One of the things I love and enjoy doing is making Do-It-Yourself (DIY) travel itineraries for my upcoming trips. I am a self-proclaimed group travel organizer of my family, friends and officemates. Every time we plan a trip, both local and abroad, I always end up being the one who do all the planning from ticket purchasing, accommodation reservation, itinerary, and booking of activities and transfers.
I personally prefer doing my own travel itinerary as opposed to booking my trips through travel agencies to spend less and to have total control and freedom regarding the places I want to visit and activities I want to do.
This is my guide on how I usually plan my travel and the preparations I do before arriving at our destination and coming up with a travel itinerary complete with budget and website links.
First step: Have a Travel Bucket List
List down the places you want to visit and the potential dates when you want to visit them.
I have a personal bucket list of things I want to do before I die and most of the things listed in it are places I want to visit all over the world. At the start of the year, I will look at my bucket list and write down at least 4 places (2 local and 2 foreign trips) I have not been to or I want to go back to. Then I also write down the potential travel dates when I could do my travel putting into consideration the long weekends and the remaining vacation leave I have.
For 2019, my travel goals are Cebu, Bangkok, Japan, and Batanes or Siargao. Some of the 2019 long weekends are Feb. 2-5 (Chinese New Year with one day leave on 4th of Feb), Feb. 23-25 (EDSA People Power), Apr 6-9 (Day of Valor with one day leave on 8th of April), and Aug 17-26 (Ninoy Aquino day and National Heroes Day with four-day leave).
Second step: Book a flight.
Now that you have potential travel destinations and dates, you must book a ticket for your flight. (Side note: Make sure you have an approved visa before booking a flight for countries requiring visas)
I usually wait for promo fares of budget airlines and use apps like Traveloka and Skyscanner to find cheap or affordable flights.
Make sure you register and have an account of your favorite airlines and save the complete name (as appearing in passport) and birthdates of your travel companions, and travel rewards program account number when you are booking your flights.
For 2019, I have flights booked going to Cebu (in February with friends and in March with officemates), Japan and Singapore with family and Thailand with cousins and siblings. In August, I am also planning to do a local backpacking trip with friends.
Third step: Do a lot of research.
After you booked a flight wherein you have actual destination and travel dates, it is time to do a thorough research about your accommodation, places you want to visit, eat at or activities you want to do, transportations you need, and contacts of tour providers. It takes me around four hours of browsing and researching and I bookmark all the websites I will use in making my travel itinerary.
Factors you need to consider in doing your research are budget, duration of travel, the number of people traveling with you, and the activities and places you want to do and visit.
Usually, I would just visit Google and use keywords of the place I will visit, the number of days and itinerary (e.g. Malapascua 2-day itinerary). I also look at the date of the blog post, which should at most be a year old. Then from there, I just click away until I find all the information I need and satisfied that I got everything covered.
For accommodation, I use Airbnb, Agoda and Booking apps or websites. I likewise visit the webpage of the hotels or resorts to read about the facilities and services offered by them. The things I consider in choosing an accommodation, aside from the price, are location accessibility (to stores, restaurants and public transportations), must have a Wi-Fi and a clean bathroom. I also look at ratings and reviews to make sure that the establishments provide good service to their customers.
Final Step: Make a travel itinerary.
I use Excel in doing my travel itinerary (because it is easier for me to do the budget computations). Once everything is finalized, I convert it to a PDF file.
Below is a sample of the itinerary I made for my upcoming Malapascua & Kalanggaman trip with friends.
The title includes the place of destination and the travel dates.
The details I write down in the itinerary are as follows (starting from our flight departure until arrival of our return trip): dates, time, activities, items and costs involved, the amount per person and remarks or website links. At the bottom is the total individual budget each person will incur for the entire trip excluding pocket money.
Your final travel itinerary will be very helpful in booking your accommodation, transportation and activities. It will also provide you with an overview of your trip and guide you with your travel schedule. Lastly, you will have more fun and less stress during your actual trip since you were the one who planned everything.
Additional travel tips:
Create a group chat (with your travel buddies) where you could discuss and share details and document files about your trip.
Save all your travel documents or files like hotel reservation confirmation, flight bookings, ticket purchases, and itinerary in your mobile phone. For easy and fast access, I use the Dropbox app and save them offline in one folder.
I hope this blog help you make future travel plans and, if you have questions or suggestions, make sure to leave a comment below.