I often get asked how I create my trip itineraries. Not that I’m an expert, as I’m sure there are better ways, but I have created many itineraries that varied from white water rafting to museum browsing to vineyard hopping.
Here are the steps I go through to create a trip itinerary.
- Decide where you want to go. This might sound obvious but depending on where you choose and what you want to do, where can be as limited as a city or as large as a quarter of a province.
- Determine your budget for the trip. Again, something else that should be obvious but some people plan willy nilly then are shocked to find out they just busted the bank and need to refinance their house to pay down vacation debt. If your budget is determined beforehand, you can plan the places and activities within your spending limit.
- What are your interests and how do you prefer to get around. This can help you research the distance between point A and B which will help you figure out transit costs. If you choose to rent a car, research the mileage of the car, or one similar to the one you’ll be getting. From the distances between points and mileage you can now determine cost of gas.
- Research your vacation area for specific activities, places from your interests above. Note entrance and tour fees. From here you can decide which items you will do based on your budget.
- Research maps and locate necessary stops. Using google maps, determine gas locations and if needed, dining stops. If your points of interest take you over a day, research accommodations in the area you’ll be in and note price. Use this information to build the itinerary of planned visits and work within your budget.
- Research free activities. Google the location and free activities. Better yet, most towns/cities have an activities guide. Google the town’s website where you can find out festivals, identify historical sites, receive discounts, and watch outdoor cameras of the area. Some tourist sites will even mail you free booklets and maps regarding their area.
- Know the weather for the area. Use www.theweathernetwork.com and locate the town you will be visiting, as your trip draws near. If your trip is some time away, google the location and weather for that time of year. It’s not fun getting somewhere only to find out you’re dressed for summer but winter is roaring at your vacation spot. This might sound funny but visiting a country as large as Canada, weather can swing wildly from one province to another and sometimes within the same province.
- Plan accommodations but be flexible. If you are staying in a hotel you may have to book in advance or risk being on the street once you get there. Same with camping at some locations in certain seasons. If travelling in the off-season you have a better chance of finding a place to lay your head randomly. Mark several locations for the spontaneity and be flexible where you can.
- Create your itinerary. Knowing the costs, distance and planned activities you want to do, it is now possible to build an itinerary within your budget. List what items you have to do and what you can give up on. Ensure to consider exchange rates if visiting a different country.
These are the actual steps I go through whenever Q and I travel. I know where we’re going, when we’re going to be there, how much it’s going to cost and what things I can be flexible with. I come within dollars of my budget because this process is so accurate.
So now you know how I build the travels of the True North Nomad. Adios!
~True North Nomad
How do you create your itinerary for your vacations? Do you use any special tools?
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