I love traveling and exploring new places. Every year I try to take at least one European city break, this month we are heading to Lisbon, Portugal for a three night break. I’m really looking forward to it!
City breaks can be quite hectic as there is always so much to cram into those few days of sightseeing. With this in mind, I always like to create the perfect itineray to avoid missed opportunities. While allowing extra time out to explore areas not on my tourist ‘to do’ list. I find it both an exciting and liberating process despite the heavy homework involved beforehand.
Below I’ve created some tips on how to create the perfect itinerary for your next trip:
CREATE AN INSPIRATION BOARD
Once you have decided on your next destination, you can begin to visualise and plan your holiday. You’ll probably begin to read up on interesting places to visit and things to do. Search Pinterest for photos of eye catching sites and create your own inspiration board. Pin images, articles, and videos to your board to keep things organised. You can also use other websites in the same way too. Trip Advisor and AirBNB are great at searching out things to do within your short time away and offers accommodation ratings, places of interest, guided tours and restaurants to visit. Once on my trip, TripAdvisor is my ‘go to’ app for local restaurants and attractions.
MAKE A LIST OF ACTIVITIES YOU WANT TO DO
Search for things that personally excite you and write them down. Decide what kind of break your looking for, is it about food & cultural? Beach bathing? City break? Pub crawl? Interact with your destination by taking part in activities recommended by locals and tourists alike. These could be walking tours around popular neighbourhoods, boat trips, wine tasting sessions or historical guided tours and so on. Don’t forget to look for hidden gems that might be off the beaten path too.
USE GOOGLE MAPS TO PLAN YOUR TRIP
Getting from the airport to your AirBNB or hotel, then onto to an attraction can be both costly and a logistically nightmare if not planned in advance. Transportation costs soon add up, especially if you are in a foreign place where you are not familiar with the public system. By using Google Maps, you can locate the correct mode of transport and work out the costs and times before setting off. Most cities have buses, metro and trains to get from A to B. sometimes just walking can get you there for free. Try and keep your itinerary within walking distance of each other if possible, then you can just move around in a sensible path tracing the best sights along the way.
KEEP NEARBY ACTIVITIES TOGETHER AND VISIT ON THE SAME DAY
Pay attention to your sights and their location. You can find out a lot on information by searching the internet. It would be best to schedule nearby activities on the same day. This will leave you with more time to spend enjoying the experience, rather than rushing around and trying to cram everything in. Remember your still on holiday! Dedicate each day to a different section of the town. Have your meals in neighbourhood restaurants near to your accommodation for convenience too.
BREAK UP EACH DAY INTO THREE: MORNING, AFTERNOON, EVENING
Now it’s time to fit your activities into a suitable time slot. It would be difficult to be too precise about the time because there might be delays, the weather may change or you may face other difficulties along the way. You might also find yourself wanting to spend more time in one place than you anticipated. Keep plans loose by dividing each day into three sessions; morning, afternoon, and evening. Pencil in just one or two activities per frame so that you’re not in too much of a hurry. Know your priorities and your optional trips. Be flexible.
VISIT POPULAR AND WELL KNOWN AREAS ON WEEKDAYS OR EARLY MORNING
Some popular sights tend to get extremely crowded during weekends, one time without proper planning we queued 3 hours just to see the Pope! Weekends always means long queues, crowded places and heavy traffic. You might spend more time queuing rather than actually experiencing the places on your list and trust me from experience it can try your patience. If you would like to optimise your precious hours away, then go to these popular places on weekdays instead. Or at best, book tickets online beforehand to jump the queues. Tourist spots are mostly quiet in the morning so be strategic in your scheduling. Leave the least popular attractions or sights for the weekends or early mornings.
DON’T OVER PLAN. LEAVE TIME TO EXPLORE
Try not to put too much pressure on your activities list for each day. You won’t be able to truly be in the moment if you are constantly worrying if you can get somewhere else in an hour or so. Give yourself plenty of time per place to explore, take lunch or rest breaks, remember to enjoy and do things that you might not have done otherwise. Surprises can turn out to be the best parts of your trip. Free time will let you enjoy them.
LEAVE YOUR LAST DAY FREE TO EXPLORE
The last day should always be kept free. This is the day to catch up on missed sights before leaving for home. By leaving your last day free of plans, you can do things you weren’t able to do earlier on in the trip, for example you found a nice market where you want to shop for souvenirs or the rain forced you away but the weather is great today. You could also go back to your favourite places, dine at a nice restaurant, or just take care of certain arrangements for smooth travel back home.