As spontaneous as I may pride myself on being, a corner of me thrives on to-do lists, charts, and compartmentalising. Travel is no different.
I think it’s imperative to have a plan when travelling because we work hard to finance our trips, and I’d hate to waste my time and money by swarming to decide what to do last minute. Planning also prepares me to ensure my travel buddies and I are on the same page with budgets and excursions.
That’s why I’m sharing with you a travel guide I’ve used since I was 19. Think of this as a travel mood board. I’ll use my trip to the south of France for this example.
Any shared space is sufficient, but I prefer to open a fresh Google doc because not only is it easily sharable, but you can access it anywhere. Make sure you mark it as “accessible offline” for those no Wi-Fi situations.
Place and dates
Now that school is done, I’m much better at allocating my vacation days to off-season travel for cheaper rates. After I pick my cities and dates, I use them as headings for my Google doc.
Book the flight(s)
I often do this as #1 because you can end up finding some cheap flights in Europe on a whim. For Nice, we got a round trip for £10 and booked it immediately.
Make a three-column chart
The first column is “Date”, the second is “Schedule”, and the last is “Notes”.
Compile possible accommodation links
Under my chart, I drop links to accommodations. I like to order them by price and let my travel partner have the last pick.
List excursions/spots you want to see/eat at
After doing a broad search on “Things to do in X city”, I make a list of places and throw them on the doc with a picture attached for each. As a visual person, it helps me navigate want I want to do. I also usually add a line or two about the place’s history and ticket prices (if any).
This is probably my favourite step. I geo search each of the places on Instagram and check for possible photo-ops. If you click “recent”, you’ll know if the site is still open (many businesses have closed due to COVID-19). The map also lets you see the neighbourhood of the excursion.
Map it out
I use google maps and “favourite” all the places including the address of the accommodation and airport/bus station to gain a distance perspective. It also helps me understand how to divide my day, so I’m not going back and forth between different neighbourhoods.
Attach links and screenshots to all tickets and bookings
This is probably the most crucial step. I take screenshots of my ticket, accommodation, and excursion bookings and add them in.
After allocating a rough schedule, use the notes section to add special things to pack (masks), alternative options if you have time or something is closed, addresses and phone numbers, reservation times, etc.
Drum roll, please…