Creating your DIY travel itinerary could be a tedious process for most people. It can be overwhelming trying to fit everything you want to do and see within a limited amount of time. Additionally, as much as possible, you keep within a budget without compromising the experience. The process could be even more difficult if you are traveling with a huge group of companions who are of different ages and interests.
Generally, all of those factors are what pushes most tourists to hire a travel agency to do the work for them. It is not wrong to do so, but a DIY travel itinerary has quite a lot of benefits. It is more personalized to suit your preferences and you can go off the beaten track. You can add in some stops that are not in common tours and be able to manage your own time. There is a luxury to being able to freely explore a new place at your own pace. This luxury doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag when you DIY a travel itinerary. Here, we will give you a step by step guide on getting that holiday of your dreams.
Step 1: Choose a destination
The first step in creating your DIY travel itinerary is to finalize on your destination. Which country and what cities in that country are you planning to visit? At this point, it is also best to think about why you want to visit that particular destination so you can more or less gauge how many days you need to spend there. A rough search on the internet could go a long way!
Also, remember to read on the best time to visit the particular country or city. To ensure that you can maximize your vacation, travel in the best weather conditions. However, do take note as well if you are traveling during peak seasons as prices tend to surge in those periods.
Step 2: Check flights and routes
There are numerous online resources that offer compiled flight details where you can compare airline prices and schedules. Skyscanner is one of the reliable websites that offer this service for free. Just plug in your desired travel dates and destination, and click on search. There, you will be able to see which airlines offer the best rates and routes.
However, do take note that all cities or towns have direct flights. In some cases, you will have to take a domestic flight or a connecting one to get to your destination of choice. Usually, recommendations on which connecting flights to take also reflect on reference websites. If you prefer looking for alternative options, you may check on travel blogs to find out how to get to a particular town without flying.
A simple trick is to book flights on weekdays as rates are better. In some countries, airlines offer the cheapest flights on Tuesdays. Usually the first flight into your country of destination and last flight out are the cheapest. Anyway, it is nice to fly early in the morning or at night so you can sleep the flight off and somehow avoid jet lag.
Step 3: Look for accommodations in advance
Determine your accommodations of choice based on what fits your budget, your preferences, and most importantly, the location. You can opt for a five star hotel, boutique hotels, BNB’s, or hostels that offer your preferred facilities. However, the most important part to consider is the accessibility of the accommodations to public transport or tourist attractions. Proximity to modes of transportation could determine how efficiently you can get around.
The easiest way to do find the best accommodations for you is through browsing apps or websites that can compare the rates of hotels in one interface. These resources make DIY travel planning much easier. One of these apps is Trivago, which is focused on hotels. There is also Airbnb for those looking for private spaces rented out. The best rates are always offered online and you can complete your booking through their online payment channels.
A word of advice is to read reviews online and take that into consideration before finalizing your booking. Choosing the right accommodations also amount to half of the success of your trip. It is important to pick the one that best suits your needs.
Step 4: Figure out the modes of transportation
Beyond finding out how to get from the airport to your chosen accommodations, you also need to figure out the best way to get around a city. It varies per country, but to give you a general idea, here are a few notes:
1. In most Asian countries, taking the train is usually a great option because it costs much less. Stations also usually land you a few steps away from tourist attractions, which makes it more convenient. They also offer passes which grants unlimited train rides for three days or a week.
2. In tourist-heavy European countries, it is more common for tourists to avail of rental car services or sign up on walking tours.
3. Generally, in the United States, most cities are better navigated through ride-hailing apps such as Uber or Lyft.
Websites that can guide you on navigating through a country are a huge help. You can check out rome2rio or Google Maps. Just plug in the place of origin and the desired destination. It will then show you the options on how to get from point A to point B. This will also give you an idea on how much time you need to allot for travel. It is essential to know this in creating your DIY travel itinerary.
Step 5: Narrow down on the non-negotiable
Among all of the attractions available in the city, determine which ones you are prioritizing. Plot those destinations first in your schedule and allot enough travel time to and from each location. It is best to schedule areas within the same proximity in one day, so you won’t go back and forth and waste time in transport.
If the destination is difficult to get to through public transport, you may opt to check DIY travel apps such as Klook and KKday. They offer transportation packages to get you around the best sites. These types of packages include a driver and a vehicle which follows a specific route and schedule. The great thing about it though is that you can just hop off each stop, go around at your own pace, and hop back on to get to the next spot. Just check on the details of each package which includes a schedule, directions to the meet-up point, and what you should present to the driver.
You may also opt for guided tours if you’d like to know more about each destination you are visiting. It is always best to book in advance through websites or apps because they are much more cost and time efficient.
Step 6: Create a charted draft of your itinerary
It can get confusing when you’ve seen and read an overwhelming amount of details online. Here’s a little tip on making things much easier to comprehend: create a chart with information of the items that you have narrowed down on. From there, you will see which details you are missing out on, and if your plans for each day are feasible.
Below is an example of a DIY travel itinerary chart for a travel to Taipei, Taiwan. You may tweak it to suit your style and preferences.