How to Avoid Getting Sidetracked on Your Travel Itinerary
You’ve been there. You planned your trip for months and then booked hotels, flights, and tours. And with high hopes, you jetted off into what was meant to be a trip of a lifetime. Only that it wasn’t.
The flights were late. The hotels were either over-booked or second-rate. And the tours were no better. Horrified, you watched your travel itinerary and, by extension, your trip falls apart. How do you avoid a repeat of the same on your next trip? Here are some tips.
Get Your Facts Straight
Want to know a guaranteed way to ruin your itinerary? Do things on a whim. For instance, you set off for the airport, not knowing its exact location, the contacts of the local taxi service, or the number of your flight. Or, you walk into a hotel lobby without a reservation, but also without having first checked whether it’s fully booked.
It’s obvious that you’ll miss the flight and have to look for alternative accommodation. Granted, being spontaneous makes a trip fun. But, precision makes it memorable. As a result, gather as much information as possible about hotels, car rentals, routes, flights, and airports during and prior to a trip. And don’t forget taxi services as well.
Write Your Itinerary Down
Don’t make the mistake of committing the information you gather in memory. You’ll only forget it. Instead, write down every aspect of your trip. For instance, when do you leave? Likewise, when do you arrive? And how do you get from the airport to the hotel? Is it by taxi or car rental? If so, which taxi service or car rental will you use?
In addition, which hotel will you be staying in? And, just as important, which locations will you visit and for how many hours or minutes will you spend on each? Be as specific as possible with the answers, and then carry the hard copy of the itinerary with you at all times as a reminder.
Carry a Road Map
Besides having a written copy, also carry a visual copy of your itinerary as well - a map. On it, trace out your journey, noting down all the important stops and the distances between them. And using the distances, calculate how the travel times and then match them to local bus and train schedules.
The distances also come in handy when estimating the cost of a taxi. For instance, if you have to make an airport transfer from the Austrian to the Slovakian capital, the map lets you estimate how much the taxi wien bratislava costs. And the usefulness of the map doesn’t end there.
A map shows you where hospitals or police stations are located. Note them down in case you need them. But all the while, ensure your map is up-to-date. Remember, the areas you knew five-years ago may have changed greatly since then, and you don’t want to get lost or find yourself in a dangerous neighborhood.
Get Travel Insurance
Even though your holiday involves seemingly harmless activities, like stretching out on the beach, play it safe, and get travel medical insurance. You never know when disaster or illness may strike. It’s only then that the high cost of overseas medical care becomes apparent.
It’s also then that you appreciate having taken out an insurance cover. So, what do you if you don’t have one? You either foot the hefty medical bills yourself or convince your relatives back home to send you the money.
Have Ready Documentation
Traveling, especially overseas, requires tons of documentation. For starters, there is a visa to apply for of which you need more than one for multi-country trips. And then there are doctors to consult and immunization jabs and papers to receive. There’s more. Remember the medical insurance we saw earlier.
If you want a cover, expect to fill out and receive paperwork for that as well. And let’s not forget documentation for your car if you’re to cross international borders. And this list isn’t exhaustive. Only remember that before jetting off, have these and every other necessary document ready.
Book Hotels and Car Rentals Early
Never wait until the last minute to book a room, especially during the holiday season. You’ll find the best hotels are fully booked, leaving you stranded or forcing you to settle for less-desirable alternatives. Instead, book months in advance so that you’re assured not only of a vacant spot but also of a favorable rate. The same applies to tours and car rentals. Call ahead and make a reservation.
Make a Budget and Stick to It
How much you spend during your trip depends on you and on your finances. So, if you can afford to stay and dine in star-rated hotels, then, by all means, check into them. But if you’re on a tight budget and can only afford a private hostel, then enjoy your stay there.
The same applies to the tours you sign up for and the malls you shop in. As long as you make a daily budget, stick to it, and review your finances occasionally, you’ll be fine. However, if you spend impulsively or more than you budgeted for, you may find yourself broke or stranded in a foreign country.
Create a Flexible Schedule
Always remember, your itinerary isn’t cast in stone. Your bus, train, or flight may arrive or leave later than you had planned. Also, a museum you intend to visit may close unexpectedly. Or, you may stumble upon a restaurant, market, or historical site not on your schedule, but which you cannot resist visiting. In such cases, you will deviate from your schedule, whether you like it or not.
So, why not anticipate such disruptions by creating a flexible schedule? In short, leave a time gap between activities instead of cramming them one after the other. And if possible, also schedule a free day as a just in case. This way, any unexpected delays or deviations never throw your whole day, week, or trip off course.
Look closely and you’ll discover that it's two things sidetracking your itinerary. The first is an unexpected event, such as a delayed flight or a sudden illness. The second, unfortunately, is inadequate planning on your part. However, both are easily solved by planning ahead and anticipating disruptions.