A large part of traveling is the itinerary. This is the list of activities day-by-day, including times and dates so you know exactly what’s happening when.
When you go on a tour, a cruise, or to a resort, itineraries are part and parcel of the experience. But if you’re traveling solo, as a couple, or even with a few friends, your own itinerary is just as important!
Going in blind can be fun, there’s no doubt. But if you want your trip to go as smoothly as possible and you’d like to make the most of your time in a particular place, a daily DIY travel itinerary is essential.
It doesn’t have to be restrictive. But creating a detailed itinerary will offer you some peace of mind! Here are some of our favorite tips to spice up your itinerary and make your trip interesting right from the planning stage!
Get Your App Game On
Travel apps can make your life easier. Firstly, we recommend using an app (like Evernote) to create your itinerary instead of having it on paper where it could get lost or ruined. Of course, it could be a good idea to have a paper copy as well, in case something happens to your phone!
Some towns and cities have their own apps! Download them prior to arriving to get a quick idea of interesting things to do or see. Other apps may help you find great travel deals.
For finding great accommodation deals, consider downloading AirBNB, Trivago, or Booking.
If you’re not going to be relying on public transportation to and around your destination, find the best prices and transport times on Hopper, Skyscanner, or Kiwi.
TripAdvisor and KAYAK are two of our favorite all-in-one apps that every traveler should have!
Ask the Locals
The locals always know the best secret spots and hideaways! If you want a value-packed experience, it’s worth chatting to the locals and getting their recommendations.
While you can do this when you arrive at your destination, you can also get a head start and get in touch with some locals before you even get there. That way, you can add their suggested spots to your itinerary from the start.
Find forums or social media groups that consist of people who live or work in your destination area. Expat groups in the area also work well.
You can also find websites or forums specific to your destination and start chatting to people. TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet have forums for discussion on specific places. Social media, particularly Reddit, could be a helpful resource.
It’s important to note that not everyone on these forums will be locals! But you may also come across other travelers who can give you great advice about local spots. Wherever you chat to people, remember to be respectful.
Make The Journey Matter
We’re all about sustainability. While flying to your destination is quick and easy, it’s not always the best for the planet due to the huge CO2 emissions from planes.
If you can avoid flying, we recommend doing so! For example, if you can get to your destination by taking a bus or train, it’s a far greener option than a flight!
What about driving? While it’s convenient, driving alone still has a comparatively large carbon footprint. Driving with others, though, reduces it.
If possible, we recommend sticking to trains, busses, and trams between destinations as much as you possibly can. While exploring the area, walking is first prize, both for the environment and your own health!
If you have no choice but to fly, then we recommend doing your best to find a direct flight. Not only will you save time by not having layovers, but direct flights are generally more sustainable.
Using an app like Skyscanner can help you to choose more eco-friendly flights. If you have to fly, it may be a good idea to try and make the rest of your trip as carbon-neutral as you can to offset the giant carbon footprint of a flight.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
Unless you’re doing it specifically for comparison purposes, doing the exact same activities at every new destination is boring!
Comfort is the enemy of adventure! Getting out of your comfort zone could open you up to new, exciting experiences that you wouldn’t otherwise have taken part in.
You don’t need to be drastic here. Simple things are a great way to start – for example, choosing a different type of accommodation to your usual. Do you usually spend your nights in luxury hotel rooms? Why not try spending a week in a tent in the woods instead?
If you enjoy a travel challenge, here are a few exciting, out-of-the-box ideas.
- Get High: No, we’re not talking about trying the local drugs! For those who are afraid of heights, try abseiling, ziplining, or a relaxed but high-up activity.
- Van Life: If the gypsy life appeals to you, living and traveling in a van could be the adventure of a lifetime. Choose an economical vehicle if possible, and travel the country by road. It’s so much fun!
- Go Off the Grid: If you think you’ve got what it takes to be a survivalist, consider going properly off the grid. Catch your own food and cook your meals on a campfire, haul water from the closest stream, and use solar panels for your power. No tech, no elec!
Be Brave With Local Food
This is another way of getting out of your comfort zone. Part of the adventure of exploring a new place is the unusual and exciting local food!
If you want a true feel of the local culture, avoid the temptation of the McDonalds on the corner (let’s be honest – they’re everywhere!).
Even if the local cuisine is a little strange and scary, there’s bound to be something interesting and less crazy that you can try. This is also a wonderful way to endear yourself to the locals – in some places, refusing food that’s offered can be insulting!
Make a Photograph List
This is a fun way of ticking off everything on your itinerary. For every activity, make sure you get a photo, whether it’s going to a particular restaurant or doing a new activity.
You don’t need to do a photography course or take a fancy digital camera with you! All you need is a phone and to remember to take a few snaps.
That way, you know you’re following your itinerary and you’ll have a great bunch of pics for a scrapbook or social media too!
Be Generous With Details
You don’t need to learn absolutely everything about your destination before getting there. In fact, knowing all the details can ruin some of the excitement! But we do recommend keeping all the necessary details of your activities or the places you’re visiting on your itinerary.
For example, if you’re planning on going kayaking, you don’t need to know every twist and turn in the river, or the flora and fauna you can expect to see.
But what we do recommend is including important things like the contact details of the kayaking company, contact details of your hotel or accommodation, your medical cover details, emergency services phone numbers, or the route to the nearest medical facility.
That’s not to say you should expect bad things to happen. But there’s nothing worse than finding yourself in a difficult situation and having nobody to turn to, or not knowing where to go or who to call.
Include all the necessary details of people, places, and emergency knowledge on your itinerary so you have it with you at all times!
Try to Do Some Good
As they say, leave everything better than you found it. If you can find an opportunity to do some good, such as taking part in a beach clean-up, then go for it!
Try to be as environmentally friendly as you can while you’re traveling. It may be worthwhile to learn a bit about going zero waste before you head off on your adventures. Regardless of the area you’re in, the planet needs more people who care about the environment!
You don’t need to run out and join an environmental group or go out of your way to find an eco-warrior even to take part in. But it is up to you to be an eco-friendly traveler, and leave your destination the same way (or better than) you found it.
Leave Free Time
Don’t pack your schedule so much that you don’t have time for unexpected occurrences or freedom. Rest time is important too! You need to refuel to be ready for new exciting experiences.
It’s worth scheduling a free day (or two) into your itinerary. If you aren’t rushing off to the next item on your list, it leaves space for you to be open to spur-of-the-moment adventures!
Don’t be afraid to say yes to exciting offers and invites. If you’ve got nothing planned for the day and someone invites you to take part in something, who knows – it may end up being the highlight of your trip!
Also, be open to changing or adapting your itinerary on-the-go. If you’re planning on doing one thing this afternoon and you’re invited to a local hangout or unusual experience, don’t be afraid to scratch what’s already on your schedule and switch it out!
Conclusion: Crafting your DIY Travel Itinerary
In the end, your travel adventure is what you make of it. If you feel confident enough to leap into it without any sort of schedule or itinerary, great!
But if you need a guide or a reminder of the activities you’ve chosen to do, an itinerary is super useful. Don’t let it restrict you, though, and always be open to new, exciting, unexpected possibilities!
Even if you stick to it religiously, following some of these ideas will spice up your itinerary with fun and challenge!
Whatever you choose to do, remember, your adventure is up to you. Happy travels!