A travel itinerary is essentially a plan around travel into the unknown. Not all of us like to plan, and some enjoy being sporadic. However, I suspect almost all of us are willing to acknowledge that exploring potentially dangerous ventures into unknown territory can lead to unexpected hazards. Having some plan will help navigate and overcome those hazards while still maintaining an enjoyable and safe time. So what are things to keep an eye out for in our travel itineraries to help us assemble one on our own or pick one offered to us? Let’s explore the best attributes to look for in an itinerary.
Also, check out our more high-level overview of travel planning and creating an itinerary here.
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Determine your Travel Persona before you look for an itinerary
There are many ways to travel. You may have entirely different expectations from other travelers for what you hope to accomplish from these travels. Understanding the concept of what you hope to do categorizes into what we call “travel personas.” Finding others to travel with, places to visit, and activities to do on any travel will range vastly depending on your travel persona. Take some time to reflect on what it is you want to do before you travel somewhere so you can center your itinerary around it.
It can also be just as important to find a group of like-minded travelers that share the same travel persona as you. Otherwise, you may find the group’s preferences and wants to do activities will be lacking. Of course, this makes it a bit tougher to travel, and it is an important consideration, so keep it at the heart of your planning.
Be sure to check out our article that will help you explore more about what your travel persona is and what your persona is right now.
Figure out your budget and quality range before you look for an itinerary
All travel costs money and resources. There are many strategies to travel with discounts and smartly. That would be too long to go into here, however. The important thing is that you understand how you want to travel. For example, there is a clear difference in comfort hitchhiking and camping around a company versus renting a car or driver and staying in hotels. There are cheap and expensive campsites and hotels, even breaking down those categories.
Have deep contemplation and understanding of your comfort level (with some correlation to safety as well). Breaking down these various categories is worth its article alone! Bucketing them for now in cheaper, more or less structured, and more free form options such as camping and hostels. On the medium range would be budget hotels and Airbnb rentals. Then, of course, for those who can afford it, you have the 4-5 star hotels, resorts, and more excellent Airbnb rentals on the higher end.
Once you have a grasp on what you are comfortable staying at each night. These categories will have vastly different budget ranges associated with the low, medium, and high-end categories I mentioned. These ranges will scale to local resources and the economy of where you are traveling too. Some locations may not even have places to stay with your desired quality level. This should help you grasp and understand what you need in your itinerary.
It would help if you also had a cutline budget set for your travels to understand your desired comfort level. Find a bottom line of how much you can reasonably afford and won’t put you in a bad financial move. With that in mind and setting this fine red line of maximum costs, you are well armed for knowing your quality and budget considerations.
Think about your safety tolerance before exploring itinerary options
Safety is a make or breaks for many in what is tolerable in their travel. Low safety does not mean you are guaranteed a bad experience. Although, there are a lot of additional considerations to understand the safety issues present in different countries.
Those who want to keep things relatively conservative and not worry about safety issues may opt to stay in countries and regions that are considered safe. This is entirely okay and may affect your travel persona and taste for the unknown. It could also be because you are traveling with family and take their safety with the greatest concern. With a bit of investigation, it is possible to keep to places with the least likely safety risks possible.
Those willing to explore areas with lesser safety options research what to bring or consider to mitigate the risks. Areas with lesser safety may be affected by the regions’ remoteness, in the wilderness, politically unstable regions, require technical skill, or crime-related. However, proper planning, gear, skill, and preparation can mitigate even the most significant safety risks. Understanding those safety limits you are prepared for is the most important consideration in planning for your tolerances in a good itinerary.
Contemplate what is an acceptable distance for your travel itinerary
Distance is a huge factor for you to consider as well! This whole category affects your time zone across the world, cost, time, and coordination to get somewhere. Let’s explore how these will affect what to look for in your travel itinerary with this in consideration.
The further away a destination is, be it the house next to you, several countries away, Antarctica, or Mars, the more you need to consider. The is more planning, risks, costs, and time to get there. Are you okay with accepting the amount of required work for destinations that are further away? What is your tolerance? Mars, for example, is pushing the very limits of human capability to reach potentially. Antarctica is fairly explored now but still quite challenging to reach. The house next door likely needs minimal effort or planning. Know your ideal distance as it affects where exactly you are comfortable going.
Another factor is the time zone. This will affect your body’s biorhythms (many call jet lag) as your body takes time to adapt. The sleep cycle will adjust after a few days and adds a tax on your body in the meantime. Further, the time zone may affect you. You’d be able to keep in touch with friends, family, and work. Land on what works for you and if it matters to you as it ties directly into what travel itineraries work for you.
How long do you have to travel?
This one is almost the most obvious one for most folk when considering travel options. You have a time limit for some of us working a full-time job or having other tied commitments. Understanding what that time budget is, being vacation time, agreement with others, or perhaps your budget constraints is essential.
Some of us are digital nomads and travel for a living or have flexible work, which time is less of a concern. Still, most want to return to their home from time to time, so that still is a time to consider. Others have much tighter schedules from one to several weeks, limiting your options.
Many destinations in this world have amazing things to see. With a set time limit, it will be tough to see everything. I almost guarantee you that you will leave many destinations thinking to yourself about what you missed. Still, you can fine-tune your travel itinerary to maximize where you can go by understanding your time budget. With some consideration into this time budget, you can rest assured you can see the best an area offers.