For today's Travel Tuesday post, I wanted to discuss some tips for planning out the itinerary for your next trip. I think it's important to have a good idea of the things that you want to do and see, especially when visiting a place for the very first time. Going to a new city or a new country can be a bit overwhelming if you don't have some sort of plan to follow. Before heading to Galway and Dublin, I made sure that I scheduled out most of the days while also allowing myself for a bunch of free time to wander about and sight see. If I didn't have some things set in stone, I am not sure if I would have known what to do with myself! The same thing goes for Sweden. Before heading to Stockholm, my friends and I had a pretty good idea of what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. It's not always easy figuring out your travel plans ahead of time, so I hope this post will be helpful for you!
By now, most of us are pinning tons of inspirational images on Pinterest. I literally have almost 30 different boards and of course one of them is travel. I recently started using Pinterest as a resource for visiting new places. You can type in any city or country in the world and so many amazing photos and information will come up about each place. It's such a great way to keep track of the sights you want to see, restaurants you want to try out and basically anything else that you come across that catches your eye for the trip. I am really hoping to visit London at some point later this year so I already started searching on Pinterest. I came across some pins with 10-15 secret/hidden spots to visit in London and even a guide on how to get around using the Tube! Since Pinterest can be used right on our phones, it's such a resourceful on-the-go app. Each pin brings you directly to that specific website, so you can either take notes now or use it as a guide during your travels. Either way those sites are always bookmarked in the app, which I find to be so helpful!
Map It Out
This is a huge one for me. I have to admit that I am not the best at following maps, so whenever they give them to me on my travels it always brings back memories of Joey from Friends. Do you remember when they were in London and he put the map on the ground and stepped on it to figure out where they were? [lol]
Anyway, I started doing this before my trip to Ireland and have to say it was a life saver in terms of making sure that I picked the right location. I also just did this for my upcoming trip, which I will touch on more next week. Basically after researching, I figure out the most popular areas and search for a hotel based around that. Once I have a list of a few hotels in my price range, I map out their address to the popular areas in the maps on my iPhone. So for example, Temple Bar in Dublin was a very touristy area filled with restaurants and pubs. Everyone pretty much said it was a good idea to stay somewhat near that area or directly in it. I knew that I wanted to be a little further away but still close enough to walk. I knew that I wanted to hit the shops down on Grafton St. and visit the Guinness Storehouse. I wanted to see St. Patrick's Cathedral and the Trinity College Library. I mapped everything out before going to Ireland so that I could see what was in walking distance and what I needed a cab for. I also got information about the hop on hop off bus, which is how I traveled to a bunch of the tourist attractions. So basically my point is that location is key in terms of figuring out your itinerary. You will be able to see what can be done on the same days and you will have plenty of time to determine what your means of transportation will be. Can you walk? Do you need to take the metro or the bus? If it's the latter then you can do some research before leaving so that you don't feel lost once you get to your destination. Of course there are always people that you can ask while you are there, but I loved knowing some of this information before my arrival.
It's always great to read reviews and get some recommendations from those who have already traveled to the place you are headed to. Besides asking friends and/or family members, I love using sites like Trip Advisor. In fact, I am super excited to be partnering up with them in next week's post! They are a travel site that I have been using for months and I have already mentioned them on here multiple times. They have an app too. I 100% have found them to be resourceful for booking hotels and getting recommendations for places to eat, tourist attractions to visit and pretty much anything else that you can think of. After reading reviews and seeing the top attractions, I'll make a list of the places that I really want to see. Then as mentioned above I map them out from my hotel along with the other areas that I want to visit. This is all so helpful with creating an itinerary!
I just recently learned about TripIt. It's an iPhone app that is basically an itinerary template. Here you can store all of the information on your flights, hotels, restaurant reservations, transportation, activities and more. You can forward all of your confirmation emails for these things to TripIt and they will create a free schedule for your entire trip. The best part is that you don't need a WI-FI connection to access it while you are away. I downloaded it and started to create a schedule for my trip at the end of the month. This is great if you don't want to physically write something down. It serves as one central location for all of your travel plans! Have you ever used this before?
Tours & Activities
Another great resource for finding things to do and for booking tours is Viator. I know that I have mentioned this several times before too, like in my Tips For Solo Travel post. They also have an app, making it even easier to search for fun activities. I still swear that my Cliffs Of Moher tour with them changed my life that day. I also booked my Guinness Storehouse visit with them too. They offer a bunch of all day tours and several ones that are only a few hours. I highly suggest taking at least one full day to do a tour. If you are traveling to a major city in another country, then this is a wonderful way to experience a different area. This is also a great starting point in your itinerary and allows you all of the other days to see and do everything else. For Stockholm, we were hoping to book an all day viking tour, but unfortunately due to it being the winter season, they were not offering that one during the time of our stay. When coming across a tour you like, make sure to check out their schedule first to see if it's only offered seasonally.
Scheduling out your trip does not mean that you have to follow everything to a T while you are away, but having something written down or stored in your phone truly serves as the perfect guide for your travels. You may never have the opportunity to come to this place again so do what you can to make the most of it. All of these tips are just some things that I have learned along the way and I hope that they will be as helpful for you as they have been so far for me. If you have any requests for upcoming travel topics please let me know! <3