Step by step trip planning. Part 3.
In part 2 of this post I talked about plotting all the things you want to see/do onto a map (you can read it here if you want). The next bit is where you get your geek on…..
Step 5: Now it’s time to bring out my travel planner spreadsheet. This details the itinerary for each day and includes details of days, times, addresses, costs and other notes. I usually save a final copy on my phone/iPad as well as taking a print copy away with me.
Now that I know where I want to go, where everything is and how long each bit takes, I can piece together the itinerary. Having the map means you can see what stuff is in a given area and concentrate on those areas to maximise your time. I remember the first time I went to New York City. I had an idea of what things I wanted to see but really I wasted so much time either walking or getting the subway between stuff in different parts of the city. If I’d grouped things together by area and done some planning, I would have seen and done far more than what I did. Suffice to say that the times I’ve gone there since, I’ve crammed in allsorts!
Handy tip: If some things are bookable in advance, I recommend doing that once you know what day/time you want to be there. This can save a huge amount of time queueing as well as allow you to manage your budget and spread the cost of things.
Populating the spreadsheet is just like putting your trip together like a jigsaw. What things are near each other? How long will it take? (Don’t forget to factor in time to walk/bus/subway between each bit too! Just google map it and click the walk icon to find out the average walk time) You can then plot where you’ll go at what times and the beautiful thing that is your travel itinerary will be done in no time.
I know this whole series of posts may make me sound terribly anally retentive but I’m not. Honest! Sometimes things don’t go to plan but it doesn’t matter, you can still adapt and adjust on the hoof. The main thing is that you’ve maximised your time and managed to fit in all the things you want to do. Depending on where I’m going, I do usually factor blocks of time to just wander and shop for souvenirs etc. It’s your trip so you can do whatever takes your fancy. I confess though that I’d feel a bit lost without some kind of structure or plan in place (particularly when I travel with a certain friend of mine. She’s an indecisive dawdler and we’d get nowhere if it was left to her! She knows who she is!)