Travel planning – how to quickly put together an itinerary for anywhere

This is the latest update to my site, which you can find on the Planning page.

One of my favourite parts of travelling is planning what I’m going to do and see. Whenever I get back from a trip, the first thing I do is whip out some guide books and start planning the next one.

View from the plane, sunset at 35,000 feet

Sunset at 35,000 feet, on the way home dreaming about where to go next

Gone are the days when people went to a travel agent to put together a trip for them, the internet has made travel increasingly accessible, putting the onus on you to put together a great trip.

The problem is that with so much information available, where do you start? You’re probably being bombarded with photos from friends and strangers alike on social media of all sorts of wonderful places to visit both near and far. How do you see through all the noise to pick a great destination for you that fits your interests, time frame and budget?

Passport stamps

My favourite possession

On this page, I’ll explain how I put together an itinerary, find accommodation and choose restaurants for a trip. None of it is ground breaking or earth shattering, but sometimes you just need a few hints and pointers to get you going.

I don’t use any fancy tools for planning my trips, so you won’t need to download lots of apps, you just need an excel sheet or a piece of paper and access to the internet.

Planning my Croatian trip

Tea and holiday planning time

First up, how to get started. I’ll add further steps over the coming days to give you a full, step-by-step guide to planning your trip.

How I get started

  1. Setting a time and cost budget

This will depend somewhat on your budget and your travel aims. I’m hoping to visit every country in the world during my lifetime, so I’ve been trying to set a pace of 8 new countries a year. This is quite ambitious and I don’t always manage it when I’m trying to fit trips in with friends and family, travelling for work, or going abroad for weddings.

I set an annual budget of £7,000 for my holidays. For some people this will seem excessive and to others it will seem minimal, it’s just the budget I set for myself each year and you can come up with your own depending on your own financial position. I’ll talk about how I set yearly and monthly budgets for myself in a later post.

I also set myself a travel time budget each year. I get 25 days annual leave from work, plus weekends, 8 bank holidays and I can buy or roll over up to 10 more days up to a total of 40 days a year. So technically I have could have up to a maximum of 152 days a year to play with.

Again, this will depend person to person and I appreciate that I am luckier than some to have that additional flexibility. In a typical year I keep my annual leave somewhere between 30 and 35 days.

I map out my proposed holidays for each holiday year at work (mine runs October to September…I know, weird right?). I try to make as much use of bank holidays as possible to maximise my time away during the year so that I’m only having to take off 4 days to make up a week.

This is how my plans have looked the last few years:

Holidays 2014
Destination Month Days Days leave
Amsterdam Apr 3 1
Mallorca Jun 5 3
Istanbul Oct 3 15
Cambodia Nov 6
Venice Dec 3

 

Holidays 2015
Destination Month Days Days leave
Barcelona Mar 2 0
Dubai Apr 5 0
Lithuania Jun 4 2
Mallorca Jun 5 3
Slovenia July 4 2
Copenhagen Aug 8 4
Tallinn Sep
Stockholm Oct
Bologna & Ravenna Oct 4 2
Glasgow Oct 6 4
Budapest Nov 2 0
Sri Lanka Dec 14 8

 

Holidays 2016
Destination Month Days Days leave
Iceland Mar 5 0
Lisbon Apr 3 0
Mallorca Jun 5 3
Portugal Jul 3 1
Prague Jul 3 1
Abu Dhabi Oct 10 8
Seychelles Oct
Malaysia Dec 15 11
Myanmar Jan

 

Holidays 2017
Destination Month Days Days leave
Croatia May 6 4
Romania May 7 4
Macedonia Jun 2 0
Riga Jul 2 0
Italy Jul 5 3
Israel Sep 7 5
Dominican Republic Nov 10 8
Germany Dec 2 0

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