Take the Hassle out of Trip Planning: Tips for Building a Perfect Travel Itinerary

How to create a workable trip itinerary that takes the biggest headaches out of travel?

Credit: Flickr/Okinawa Steve

A little travel planning can help you avoid a lot of potential hassles

If you’ve ever tried to do it all by yourself, you know building your own travel itinerary is not as easy as it sounds

Putting together a seamless trip on your own doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take a little thought and 

There are even some great websites and software out there to help make the entire process easier. Just do a Google search for “trip itinerary websites” and you’ll find plenty of online help to choose from.

Tips for Planning Your Own Trip Itinerary

Be Realistic

Your first inclination might be to milk your trip for all it’s worth by booking red-eye flights and scheduling full days’ worth of activities. After all, if you’re heading to a once-in-a-lifetime destination, you might feel determined not to miss a single thing. But by the end of a trip like that, I can guarantee that you won’t feel as if you’ve had a vacation at all.

Instead, make life easier on yourself by creating a list of everything you want to see or do at your destination and then put all those things in priority order so that you don’t end up missing out on your top picks because you ran out of time, or because unavoidable circumstances got in the way.

Use a Guidebook

One thing that can throw a wrench into the best-laid plans is underestimating the amount of time it takes to get to a certain spot, or not knowing how long it takes to visit a particular attraction.

To help you more accurately estimate how long things will take, use a guidebook or do some searching around online message boards for some real-life perspective from other travellers who’ve been there before you.

If you have a cruise or some kind of prepaid excursion planned, arrange to arrive no less than a day prior to your departure date.
 And if you can avoid having to make travel connections, do it. Nothing can mess with an itinerary more than a missed or delayed flight.

Remember, as well, to factor in time for getting to and from the airport and for clearing all necessary security checkpoints.
 If you’re trying to save money by flying into a smaller airport rather than the city’s main hub, remember that you may need to factor in extra travel time once you’re on the ground.

Build in Time for Spontaneous Adventures

Of course, your itinerary will never be set in stone, as some things will inevitably go wrong. 

During your trip, you’re also likely to discover some worthwhile adventures you hadn’t planned on, so keep in mind that a free day here and there helps to keep your time flexible and gives you wiggle room where you might need it.

Try these Trip Planning Websites

To build the perfect itinerary, check out these two online helpers:

: This handy site allows you to create complex online itineraries and email them to friends and family so they can keep track of where you are. TripIt lets you store all your travel details in one place and can also send you mobile alerts or emails about flight changes. 

NileGuide.com: This online travel guide lets you pick your destination from a list and then instantly gives you an impressive inventory of hotels, activities, travel guides and much more.

Originally published in TV Week. For daily updates, subscribe to the free TV Week e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.