In my opinion, the best way to set yourself up for a great trip is to do a little research before jetting off so you know exactly where you need to be when and what you’re going to be doing. I’m not suggesting you have every minute of every day scheduled out; you do that and you will need a vacation from the vacation. On the flip-side, for me, there is nothing worse than getting to a great location, checking into the hotel, and then saying, “ok, now what?”. You have come too far to waste precious time twiddling your thumbs in the hotel.
Before I travel anywhere, I like to look up the local attractions; the must see and must do of the area. I always like to have some idea of what the location has to offer and where the sights are that are not to be missed. I jot down a lot of ideas of places to go, typically more than I know will even be possible to tackle. This allows me to be flexible depending on weather, jet lag, etc.
As I plan a trip, I put all the details into one document that will serve as the master itinerary. For each day listed, I like to break it up into two distinctions – travel days and trip days. Travel days have all the details for the mode of transportation getting me from point A. to point B. and trip days list out all the details for the sandwich meat portion of the trip if you will.
By laying out all of the details you will not only save yourself the frantic dig through numerous travel documents while in line at the airport, train station, hotel check-in, etc. I like to have one document with all the pertinent information listed so I can easily reference everything I’ll need for the trip without having to location individual confirmation emails, tickets, and so forth. Plus you never know if you may need to pass along the duties of “tour guide” to your travel companion who may not have been involved with the planning process.
Below are some of the key points I put into my travel itinerary template:
Did you notice how I have “directions” listed on there? I know it’s 2013 and there are these fancy machines called “cell phones” where you can download mobile maps direct to your palm. But there is something to be said about a printed map when wi-fi is no where to be found and your cell provider doesn’t quite reach you like it does at home. There’s no shame in old fashioned paper maps when it comes to being prepared.
So, using the template, you can put together a single document that has all your trip details in an easy single document format that you can print for yourself and all your travel mates. When it’s compete, it will look something like the example below. This is a snapshot of what two real travel days may look like.
Even if travel isn’t in your agenda for this year, you can always bring home a souvenir from far away exotic land from one fantastic site – ProjectBly.com. I love the concept of this site where they feature goods from different markets around the globe every two weeks. You can feel like you are walking the streets of a distant land without ever leaving the comfort of home. The photos alone will whisk you away to travel bliss.