Planning the Perfect Travel Itinerary: My Top Tips

Some people swear that travelling with no plan other than buying a one way plane ticket is the only way to travel. But if you’ve landed on this website it’s likely your interested in being a little more organised than that.

Like me, you like to have a plan, you like to know where you will be resting your head each night, what time the train leaves for your next destination and what are the main things to see and do in that destination.

To do this you need to build yourself an itinerary. A rough blow by blow that will help ensure your trip goes smoothly and that you make the most of your precious time away.

There are many online tools and apps around these days that allow you to put together an itinerary that I’m sure all work great. But today I’m suggesting you use my Travel Planning Template which you can get free.

If you haven’t already, go ahead and download it NOW and then come straight back here so you can read my tips for planning the perfect travel itinerary using the template.

My Travel Planning Template is the exact Excel spreadsheet that I’ve been using to effectively plan my travels around the world for ten years. It’s simple to use and can easily be adapted to suit any trip whether it be a short weekend away or a long term multi-country adventure.

How to Use the Travel Planning Template

Once you have the spreadsheet open I suggest you start by having a quick read of the instructions on the first tab to familiarise yourself with what each tab can help you do. If you need an additional tutorial on using Excel this YouTube video will show you the basics. And don’t forget you can always contact me if you have any questions.

Then you can start adding information to the spreadsheet as you make bookings and find things you want to see and do. And when it comes time to head off on your trip, you can print the information to take with you in paper form or make it available to refer to on your device of choice. I like to have a printed copy and one on my iPad.

Using the Travel Planning Template is as simple as that but planning the perfect trip, one that doesn’t make you come home feeling like you need another holiday to get over the holiday, takes a little more work.

But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with these five tips for planning the perfect travel itinerary. Follow each of these and you’ll return from your trip knowing you’ve made the most of your time and feeling refreshed and ready to get back to day to day life.

5 Tips for Planning the Perfect Travel Itinerary

Balance is key to planning the perfect travel itinerary - 5 Tips for Planning the Perfect Travel Itinerary - The Trusted Traveller

Be Realistic

The best way to ensure you come back from your trip feeling refreshed is to be realistic when putting together your itinerary.

Don’t try to see and do everything in one trip if it means you’ll be running from place to place and attraction to attraction getting minimal sleep and not spending quality time exploring and relaxing.

Instead leave yourself some breathing space. For example, after a long haul flight you’re likely to be jet-lagged or at least a little tired. Factor in a bit of extra time for a nap or a sleep in, the day after you arrive.

If you are going on a multi-city trip, try to factor in at least two to three nights in each place, more if you can. This will give you a good balance of seeing and relaxing.

Also try to be generous with the amount of time you spend visiting each attraction. Don’t just whiz through at the speed of light so you can tick it off your list. The worse that can happen by allowing additional time is you spend less time than planned and you end up with some free time.

And with this free time you can see something extra that didn’t make the original plan or just simply relax and soak up the atmosphere of your destination.

Consider Efficiency vs Budget

When planning out your transport, consider what your priorities are from the start, efficiency or budget.

If you are travelling on a tight budget then that flight that makes a stop in another city before arriving in your destination and costs less than the direct one might make sense to you.

However, someone who has a bigger budget and less time will find that the direct flight makes more sense.

This can also apply to accommodation. That hotel you looked at on the outskirts of the city might be a great price but how long will it take you, and how much will it cost you, getting in and out of the city each day? Will the money you’ll save on accommodation outweigh the time you will spend each day getting around? You might be better off spending a few extra dollars to have the hotel in the city.

Spend some time considering what is more important to you, your budget or your time, and then make decisions based on this.

Think Logically

When you are planning out your days, you want to try to think logically so that you don’t miss out on anything and are not spending all your time running from one side of a city to another.

For example, you are in Paris for three days, you have a list a mile long of things you want to see and do. When planning what you will see on what day, think about it logically. Use a map to see where each item on your list is located and then try to plan seeing each place in one area before moving onto the next.

Same goes for accommodation. If you are planning to only be in town for say two nights and you will be arriving and departing by train, you might be best to stay somewhere near the train station or half way between the train station and town.

Being logical about your plans will not only save you time and reduce stress but could save you money too.

Be Flexible

Having a well planned out itinerary doesn’t mean loosing the opportunity to be spontaneous.

Just because you have things scheduled in, doesn’t mean you have to follow your itinerary to a T. Allow yourself time to be more flexible.

You never know when you might stumble across something that really takes your fancy, or meet someone who is doing something awesome you want to do too. Maybe a local has recommended something that is just too good to pass up.

Don’t be afraid to go off schedule and don’t let your itinerary dictate your trip. A big part of travel is freedom and being able to explore and discover the unknown.

Ask an Expert

If in doubt, ask an expert for advice. Approach someone who has done a similar trip and ask them to look over your itinerary to see if they think it is do-able or not and provide you with some advice.

But how do you find an expert? Well you can start by contacting me. I’m always happy to look over your itinerary and give advice completely free of charge.

Or you can join my Facebook Group, Travel Planners Unite. This exclusive group is for readers of The Trusted Traveller only and is the perfect place to ask me and other members of the travelling community for advise. Join Travel Planners Unite now.

Over to you!

What are your top tips for planning the perfect travel itinerary?

Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.

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11 thoughts on “Planning the Perfect Travel Itinerary: My Top Tips”

  1. I really love your tip about being flexible. When it comes to travel planning, things don’t always work out the way you want them to so being adaptable can be really beneficial. My husband and I are planning a big trip through Europe for the summer so we are working on planning everything that we need. Your tip about talking to a professional might really help us because we are a little bit stuck. We will have to look for a travel agency to help us with the rest of the details. Thanks for sharing.

    • Europe is amazing! It is my favourite continent to travel around on as it is so easy and there are so many amazing things to see. I’d be more than happy to help you out with your Europe planning if you like. Feel free to email me anytime with questions [email protected]

  2. My family is planning to go on a vacation together this summer. My mother is a huge fan of planning out our whole trip. So, I like that you talked about having an itinerary but allowing yourself to still be spontaneous.

    • Thanks Ivy. I think it is very important to have balance in everything you do in life. Hope you and your family have a great vacation!

  3. There’s always something that is to be learned through travel.Whether it be via car, plane, train, boat, bike…foot…with each inevitable roadblock there’s always room for a little tip here or there. Which is why every time I go somewhere, I always learn something new or helpful about the travel process. And your blog too seem useful for many of the travelers like me.

    • Hi Richey. Thanks. If you join the Facecbook group mentioned in the emails I’d be happy to help along with the rest of the community.


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