Travel Guides and Building Your Itinerary
Travel guides and information sources
Travel guides are excellent sources for travel information - no surprises there. The most popular guides are, in no particular order:
Get the digital version and download it to your phone. Save yourself from the weight of the paperback version.
There are two sections on travel guides I would suggest you ignore. First, the "where to sleep" section: just follow our advice on booking hotels. And second, the "where to eat" section: just google "city where to eat" or "city foodie". Ignore the first few results of spammy websites (like TripAdvisor) and look for blogs of fellow travellers or local foodies.
If you want to save money and not buy a travel guide, I suggest the following free sites:
- Google "city itinerary" or "city X days itinerary". For example, "paris 3 days itinerary"
Another trick to find what to do in a city is to look at the website of the hop on/hop off tour bus many cities have. Google "city hop on hop off bus", select the right site from the results, and look for the route maps. This will tell you what the main attractions are, and where they are. For example, "Paris hop on hop off bus".
Building your itinerary
Now that you know what you want to do and see it's time to write it down in an itinerary.
There are many sites and apps that promise to help you build an itinerary. But I would recommend you do it in a spreadsheet. This way you can do it your way, with little or as much details, and in the way the organization seems logic to you.
The only app I would recommend is TripIt (Android Apple Free). It reads all of your confirmations emails (airlines, hotels, transportation) and presents it together in a nice interface. It's much better to look this information on TripIt than on your inbox full of other emails.
Below is an example of an itinerary on a spreadsheet. It has columns for: date, what you plan to do in that day, and additional notes. Example of notes you can write dow are: opening hours, address, price.
After you have written the first version of your itinerary, then it's time to do a sanity check and change it if needed.
Some adjustment you might want to consider are:
- Are you trying to do to much? Or maybe too little?
- Check opening times. For example, museums are usually closed on Mondays and have a free day once a month.
- Check attractions for closures. Sometimes museums are closed for renovations, parks are closed for events etc.
- Check what you are doing on the weekends. Some attraction get very crowded on the weekend. Also public transportation timetables have less services. So doing a day trip for a nearby city can get incovenient to do during the weekend.
- Check what you are doing during public holidays. Transportation, accommodation, attractions - all get more crowded, harder to find, and more expensive. Check what the locals do during the public holidays. For example, they all leave the capital city to a nearby beach town. Then, it's better to stay in the capital during the holidays and then visit the beach after the holidays.
- Check the city's event calendar. Sporting events, shows, festivals and conferences can mean all hotels will be full
Transportation between destinations
In a high level view, the kind of transportation you will use to travel between your destinations:
- North America: flights, car, buses
- Central and South America: flights, buses
- Europe: flights, rail, buses
- Africa: flights, buses, organized tours
- Asia: flights, buses, rail (in some countries)
It's beyond our scope to list all transportation details all over the world - and which are always changing. Your travel guide and internet searches will point in the right direction in your specific case.
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