I’ve decided which city to go… what next?
Planning your travels does not have to be a headache. Yes, it takes time, but having a plan is part of the joy of travelling. I derive greater pleasure in travelling when when I see my plans come to fruition as I embark on my journey.
There are many factors that can come into play while deciding where to go, such as seasons, off- or peak periods, cost of flights etc.
Once you’ve decided the place you want to go, the next step is: What to do?
1. Look for prominent landmarks.
A quick search on Google shows you the major landmarks in that area. Depending on what else you’d like to see in the area (food/ culture/ tours/ activities/ shopping), do deeper research. This constitutes the most time-heavy portion of the research.
… on a map. I use either CityMaps2Go, Maps.me on my phone or Google maps.
2. Next, booking transport and accommodation?
Check my useful budget resource guide if you haven’t. This resource list is my holy grail which I always turn to whenever I need cheap and reliable transportation and accommodation.
If you’re travelling by air, don’t forget to check for cabin baggage limits if you’re not checking any baggage in. If you are checking luggage, make sure you pack all essentials in your carry on bag. Also, checking in online in advance shaves off queueing time in the airport!
I’m finally here! It’s time to hit the sweet spots!
In the case for shops/ museums/ restaurants/ cathedrals/ mosques, be sure to look up its opening hours. For instance, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey opens at selected times only as it is closed during the prayer period.
Hagia Sophia, also in Istanbul, sometimes closes for the entire day for praying.
3. Divide the area you are covering by the number of days you have.
Always overplan, because you never know if any unexpected events may occur. Like how I walked into a fireworks display on my last day in Nice, as they were having the finale of their annual Mardi Gras festival.
Also leave room for new surprises. When you’re in town, speak to the locals. They may offer you local finds that can never be found on the internet. Sometimes it’s a day trip, at other times, it’s a maze you’re getting into. I found the best places to eat in Ghent when I spoke to my host! On another occasion, if not for striking a conversation with a sweet Greek girl on the plane, I would have never found clearer, more turquoise waters of Milos in Greece. So be sure to leave some buffer during your planning!
While some prefer spontaneous travel, others like a structured one. But if you want an impression of the kind of planning I do, here’s a sample itinerary I created for Amsterdam.
Are there any travel tips you’d like to share about? Comment below!