You’ve spent days, weeks, maybe even months picturing your dream vacation. You’ve probably even got a destination in mind. But how do you make sure that every moment is amazing — without trying to do too much?
Planning a travel itinerary might seem a little daunting at first. But with just a little prep, you can tailor your perfect trip and say goodbye vacation stress. Follow these 8 simple steps and make your next trip one to remember (for all the right reasons).
1. Start by seeking inspiration
Believe it or not, your vacation starts long before you board the plane. Watch movies and read books about your chosen destination. It’s a great way to get inspired, figure out what to see, and let your imagination run wild. If you still don’t know which sights you’d like to visit, take a peek on GetYourGuide. You’ll be able to search by destination and see the top attractions, tours, and activities that you can’t afford to miss.
2. Make a destination wishlist
Before you worry about the practical stuff, make a list of all the stops you’d like to hit. Dreaming of a trip to the US? Begin by writing down everywhere you’d love to go. If your wishlist is a little too long, start prioritizing. Our tip is to cut places that are similar to one another. It’d be great to do a river cruise of Chicago and sail around Boston, but you might want to skip one and pick stops that are a little more varied.
3. Find the perfect balance
A truly great trip will show you different sides to your destination. Try not to stick only to big cities. Mix it up and take some time to visit smaller towns and rural attractions. If you’re visiting Ireland for example, save a few days to discover the countryside after you’ve explored Dublin.
4. Count the days (and nights)
Now it’s time to decide how long to spend in each place. If you’re taking a long weekend, one or two places is perfect. Stretch to a week and you can add in an extra stop. As a rule of thumb, you should devote three nights to big destinations and two nights to somewhere smaller. One night stops can be stressful, so they should be avoided unless you’re OK with a whirlwind visit. We advise seeing two big attractions per day, but there’s a simple hack if you’re pressed for time. Experiences like this half-day walking tour of Berlin allow you to pack a lot of sights into a much shorter space of time.
5. Don’t overbook yourself
It’s tempting to try and squeeze in as much as you can, but beware the stress of a jam-packed itinerary! Instead of decreasing the number of nights in each destination, cut down on the number of stops. You might see fewer places, but you’ll really get to know the destination. Think carefully about remote places that require a lot of time to get to. If you’re taking a short trip, you don’t want to spend half a day on the road. Save them for another time (unless they’re the reason you’re going in the first place).
6. Map out your route
Get out your map and make sure you plan the most efficient route. You don’t want to waste time doubling back on yourself. To really minimize travel time, consider flying in and out of different places — it will normally give you an extra day. If your trip covers long distances, think about the quickest way to travel. If you’re not set on taking the train across Thailand, consider a quick one-hour flight. You can spend the morning riding tuk-tuks in Bangkok and the afternoon snorkeling in Koh Samui.
7. Timing is everything
Don’t forget to look up the weather report and pick your travel dates accordingly. Pay attention to things like monsoon season and cold winters — and bear in mind that warm summer weather means lots of sun-seeking crowds. Do some research on when things are open, too. In Paris, most shops are shut on a Sunday. And if you’re an art buff, don’t plan a cultural tour of Stockholm on Monday, when many museums are closed.
8. Leave some flex
Think about how you like to travel, and build your itinerary around it. Find that you often do things spur of the moment? Leave some free time to see where your travels take you. With GetYourGuide, you can book tours spontaneously on-the-go when inspiration strikes.