Are you planning a solo trip but feel overwhelmed by the task of building an itinerary? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! Building an itinerary, especially for a longer trip, is an iterative process that requires careful planning and consideration.
In this article, we will guide you through the steps of building a well-organized and efficient travel itinerary, ensuring you make the most of your solo adventure.
Finding Inspiration for Your Itinerary
Before diving into the nitty-gritty details of your itinerary, it’s a good idea to seek inspiration from experienced travelers. Popular guidebook series like Lonely Planet, the Rough Guide, and Rick Steves’ Europe have recommended itineraries for different countries and regions, curated by professional travelers.
Additionally, a simple Google search for “recommended itinerary [country name]” can provide you with plenty of ideas. Starting with a pre-made itinerary and then adapting it to your own circumstances can be extremely helpful, especially if you’re new to solo travel.
Start with Flights and Transportation
When building your itinerary, it’s essential to start with your outgoing and return transportation, as they are likely to be the most expensive and time-sensitive parts of your trip. These should be the first things you confirm and book. If you’re flexible with dates, take the time to explore different days and times to find the most affordable prices.
Consider comparing prices for ‘open-jawed’ flights as well – flying out of a different airport than the one you flew into. This option allows you to avoid circling back to your first city and can save you time and money.
Pro tip: If you’re planning an open-ended trip, make sure to set aside a budget for an emergency return flight home. Knowing the typical cost of a last-minute return flight will help you plan your finances accordingly.
Consider Jet Lag and Customs Delays
As you start filling in the rest of your itinerary, it’s crucial to consider factors such as jet lag and customs delays, especially if you’re traveling between continents. Begin your adventure with a low-key first day, avoiding intense physical activities, tours, or timed tickets.
This will give you time to recover from a long trip, adapt to the time difference, and familiarize yourself with your new surroundings.
Avoid Overpacking and Account for Transportation Time
One common mistake rookie travelers make is overpacking their itineraries. It can be tempting to squeeze in as many destinations as possible, but this often leads to exhaustion and burnout. When planning, remember to account for transportation time between destinations.
Research the length and availability of plane, train, and bus connections, and give yourself ample time to rest. Spending hours each day just getting from one place to another can quickly dampen the excitement of your solo adventure.
Determine the Ideal Duration for Each Location
Deciding how much time to spend at each location on your itinerary depends on your interests and preferences. Some people may find two days in London or New York City sufficient, while others might feel that two weeks aren’t enough.
As you gain experience through travel, you’ll become better at estimating how much time you’ll need in different places. Initially, you can aim for the following rough estimates and adjust as you discover your personal travel speed:
- 3-5 days for major capitals and large cities
- 2-3 days for medium-sized cities
- 1-2 days for small cities, towns, and day-trip destinations
Remember, these estimates are not set in stone. Flexibility is essential, but it’s still vital to ensure that your chosen destinations offer accommodations within your budget and have reliable transportation options that fit into your schedule.
Avoid the last-minute surprise of no available hostels or limited transportation options by checking for accommodations and transportation availability in advance.
Building an itinerary for your solo travel adventure doesn’t have to be a daunting task. By following these steps, you can create a well-organized and efficient travel plan that optimizes your time and budget.
Remember to seek inspiration from experienced travelers, start with your flights and transportation, consider factors like jet lag and customs delays, avoid overpacking, and account for transportation time between destinations.
Lastly, customize your itinerary based on your interests and preferences, and ensure that accommodations and transportation options align with your plans. With careful planning, your solo trip will be a seamless and unforgettable experience. Happy travels!