You’re almost ready! You have your big flight booked and you have researched the areas that you want to hit up! One final and quite important step is to come up with a rough itinerary. If you are going on a long term trip for months at a time, you have the freedom to do whatever you want, whenever you want. However, most of us can only afford to take 2-4 weeks off so to maximize time there, its smart to have a loose itinerary to follow.
The first thing you want to do once you have a list of places you want to hit up within your destination is match places to days. The best way to do this is on a printed calendar. Print a blank calendar and and start labeling which places you want to be in on which days. This is a great way to visualize how long you have in each city and how long your transfer days are. Often times, you are struck with wanderlust and have lofty ideas of what can be accomplished in your given time period. For example, when I was planning my recent trip, I had the idea of exploring 3 countries in 3 weeks. In my mind this seemed perfectly doable but when I started adding cities to dates, there was no way I would have time for the 3rd (Thailand). Doing this online on Google Docs is a great way for you and your travel buddy to both give input.
As far as planning each day to the tee, I say it really depends on you. If this floats your boat, then go for it. This is a little to OCD even for me! The way I go about it is, research at home where time is plentiful. Come up with a list of attractions and activities that you would want to do and allot an appropriate number of days to accomplish most of it. Once you’re at your destination, look at your list and map out your days day by day. This gives you a degree of freedom that super meticulous planning just doesn’t offer. Plus some of the best experiences are unplanned no? Gotta have some wiggle room for those! For example, on my 2011 trip to Asia, we did a long leg in Singapore. We planned an unexpected 2 day trip to Bintan island, a remote, although resorty, Indonesian island off the coast of Singapore. There we were greeted with warm tropical water and sand so fine it could only be described as powder soft.
This is my itinerary for my trip this year. Feel free to have a look and copy it onto your own document to make your own itinerary!
This concludes the prep series. I’ll be starting a series about packing your bags. Feel free to ask any questions on the blog or any other means!