Some people, actually, perhaps many people hate the nitty gritty aspects of planning a vacation and going through the steps of planning a vacation, whether it is finding the right hotels, booking the cheapest flights, finding the right activities, finding the right restaurants. Not me. In fact, that is one of my favorite parts of planning a vacation. I do not believe in using or utilizing travel agents. I view vacation planning as a large puzzle, and it is up to me to put those pieces of the puzzle together and find out where everything works and how all the pieces fit together. I love the logistical aspect of it all.
I love doing the research to find the right accommodations. Everything from where they are located to what people are saying about them. I certainly take that into consideration. I look at where they are located in terms of activities and things that interest me. Are they downtown? Perhaps I want to be where all the excitement is. Are they located near the airport? Perhaps I want to be close to the airport if I have an early flight the next morning. Perhaps I do not want to be close to the airport because it is too noisy. Perhaps I want to be somewhere quiet, or picturesque, near the market or near the beach even.
I like looking at different airline costs and playing around with dates. One of my favorite apps to use is Hopper.
Depending on where I am going, I do my research, I look at key things that I would like to do and how I would be able to incorporate them into my travel journey. For instance, I am going to Portugal in September, and the five things that I am adamant about doing are as follows:
- Take a cooking class
- Try the Pastries from Belem
- Take Tram 28
- Visit Sintra
- Visit Cascais
I made sure to incorporate all of these activities into that trip to Portugal. I am only there for 3 full days (72 hours) but rest assured, it will be the best 72 days ever.
Or, we can take a look at that trip to Southeast Asia that I will be taking in a few months. I have done thorough research and scoured the internet and read every travel blog under the sun, for tips, suggestions etc. My only regret is that I will not be in Asia long enough. Two weeks is not enough to see and do all of the things that I want to see and do.
But, below, here are a list of a few of the things that have made it onto my itinerary for Southeast Asia:
- Eat, Eat, Eat–every blog that I have read says that Thailand and Vietnam have food that is to die for. I will most likely go broke just eating the food in Thailand and Vietnam. I mean, here in the United States, I absolutely love food trucks and am all about those food trucks. So you can imagine when I head to the street markets, I will pretty much go from stall to stall and try anything and everything.
- Visit a floating market in Bangkok
- Catch a Muay Thai match
- Visit the Elephant Nature Park
- Visit the Tiger Kingdom
- Visit a number of temples
- Get a Thai massage
I absolutely refuse to leave Thailand without doing all of the above. And in Vietnam:
- Eat, Eat, and Eat again
- Take excellent photographs
So, when you are planning your trip, make sure to plan around the things that you most want to do. Figure out how much time it will take and how much money it will cost you.
One of my favorite websites to help with planning and generating an itinerary (it pretty much does it for you) is Travefy. It even allows you to invite other people to help plan the trip and collect payments. When using it, you can even import links and other documents and information and then generate a .pdf with all of your travel information in it. It is so simple to use and 100% user friendly.
Here is part of a sample itinerary from my trip to Southeast Asia:
By the time I land in Bangkok it will be just after noon, and by the time I clear customs and reach my final destination, it will probably be close to one, so let’s go from there:
Sample Itinerary: Bangkok
Enjoy the Grand Palace
Explore Temple of the Emerald Buddah
Explore Wat Pho
Explore China Town
End the night and wind down at a rooftop bar (I am incredibly excited about this one because I have heard that the views are breath taking).
Traditional Thai Massage
Visit a Floating Market
Take a Thai Cooking Class
End the night at a rooftop bar
In fact, taking a Thai cooking class is an absolute MUST for me in Thailand. And there is no wiggle room there. I love food. I love to eat food. I love to cook food. I love finding the best food. I have already compiled a list of potential places to take a cooking class in Bangkok.
Take another Thai cooking class.
The days are built for cooking classes.
And remember, you do not have to stick to the itinerary. An itinerary is meant to act as just a guide. Go where the wind takes you and roll with the punches. You might be on one tour and notice something else that interests you that you want to get involved in.