I enjoy a well planned itinerary. I’m not one for waking up at the crack of dawn and heading out into the world with a schedule to adhere to, no. An itinerary is something different to me. It’s a guideline of what there is to do at my destination du jour. It’s a condensed version of the guidebooks made famous by Lonely Planet, Frommer’s, et al. I like making an itinerary. I even like breaking an itinerary.
My pre-trip prep is inspired by two of my parents’ friends, a couple from California who love to travel. For years they packed up their kids once a year to discover a new (to them) destination. They’d select a country or city to visit and then tasked the kids with researching the destination, and reporting back with their findings. The four of them would then go through the findings and select what they’d be doing, thus creating a loose itinerary, ensuring they’d be making the most of their limited vacation time.
Consider it the less weighty equivalent of overpacking: you want options to pick from as you don’t know what mood you’ll be in on a given day. So you can say that my itinerary isn’t a schedule of activities but rather a mini bucket list that I’d like to scratch off.
(Something I uncovered while writing this post is Tripomatic, which advertises itself as trip planning tool. I haven’t used it yet but am intrigued. Will report back later.)
Once you arrive at your coveted locale, you will undoubtedly uncover a hidden gem, get a recommendation from a local, or pass by a spot that beckons you from within. That’s when you should fold up that bucket list and go hence into the unknown*. Discovery: it’s what people love most about travelling (if I may be so bold to say).
Here are some of my favourite ressources when I’m planning a trip (of any length):
- Long trips: Lonely Planet, Frommers, National Geographic Travel, Condé Nast Traveler.
- Short trips: NY Times 36 Hours, Frommers “Suggested Itineraries, Design Sponge Travel Section.
- All trips: Google. My 3 most common searches are for “things to do in…”, “unique things to do in…”, and “hidden gems/underground/off the beaten path in…”. You will uncover more current events, activities, natural phenomena and art installations that way.
Conclusion: research your heart out before heading out the door, go see what you are there to see, and when the destination pulls you in an intriguing direction, indulge the siren call and [insert your own adventure here].
*ALWAYS exercise common sense and be safe. Don’t be a fool!