Plan ahead: Do More & Worry Less

When Emily and I went to Greece in March 2018, we planned an awesome day sailing around to some of the different Greek Islands, and it was perfectly executed with very few road bumps!

March 2021 – 

Planning your itinerary is a no brainer, and one of the most stress relieving tips I can give! By knowing what is most important to you on a journey, in terms of what you want to dowhere you want to gowhat/how you want to eatwhat you want to see, etc., the better off you will be when you arrive. I speak from experience when I say this! 

Figuring out what time you have will enable you to do more and ultimately have less worry when you arrive to your destination. By establishing the arrival/departure time needed, allowances for those random delays that always happen, and time to/at/between destinations for sightseeing ahead of time, you will feel like a free bird when you arrive! Of course, nothing ever goes perfectly, but then again how would it be fun otherwise? The better you map out the places you want to go and the things you want to do prior to arriving, the better your experience will be. This also feeds into my other tip: ‘Be Smart, Vigilant & Observant,’ in that you will be familiarised with where you are going, avoid getting completely lost, and blend in with the locals, meaning you’ll look less touristy. 

Imagine you have just chosen a flight for your trip and then your screen flips over to the last remaining question before you pay. It says: ‘Do you want to buy trip insurance?’ What do you do? You would probably be thinking, “Ohh jeez, I don’t want to pay extra, I won’t need that, what could go wrong?” Well the answer is that whether you think you are going to need it or not, you should most definitely buy it for any sort of long distance flight. Honestly, as a rule of thumb for myself anything over $150 I always buy trip insurance. That is because you really never know and it is really not worth all the hassle you will go through if your flight gets disrupted or something just happens. Plus, it is your money, and to lose it for the sole reason that you didn’t get trip insurance is silly. The answer to your question should be YES to buy it!!! I cannot tell you how many times, especially this past year of 2020 with Covid-19, that having bought that insurance was a such relieving factor.

 

Make An Itinerary

Whenever I make plans to go somewhere, I always map out locations, distances, prices, time needed, transportation, and directions to/ from by making an itinerary for myself. I do this by making a new Word Document and I always start by putting in my destination information, as well as arrival and departure. Then I purchase my transportation to/from and I add that info to start forming my budget. Next I determine where I will be staying and add the location and cost as well. After that, I consider all transportation avenues that I’ll be using when I’m there as a sub section and I add approximate costs. Now depending on the place I am staying at, I decide how I will be eating, which if I’m staying at a hostel, will be primarily by cooking. So doing some research on food costs and grocery store locations can be very helpful! 

From here I can start piecing together my expenses and look at what sights/things are a must see or do. Then, I can plan the best order to visit/do them in and formulate routes to and from my hostel. I usually mark down addresses, time needed to visit, and highlights of the sight or thing. In this step I usually copy & paste directional routes to the document for reference because cell phones are great but they don’t always work! This way I will be familiar prior to being stuck when my phone doesn’t work or isn’t accurate. Once I have finished my itinerary I typically email it to myself, and then I can look at the Pdf or I can take a screenshot to look at. Now don’t get me wrong, when I can use Google Maps or Maps, I always do, but this way I have an extra security tucked away!

 

Which Places And Things?

When I consider what I want to see and do at a destination, there are several factors I consider. Those include: cost, time, and content. Granted sometimes the most unexpected discoveries around the next corner are absolutely delightful, but I have found that if in advance you consider how much you can allocate toward entrance tickets, and transportation to/from the places you want to see, you will be happier, and more importantly so will your wallet. I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about museums and entrances always being super expensive and costly, but they don’t have to be!

Cost is certainly the most deciding factor for most people, myself included, but think of entrance fees as a form of rationing. For example, when I went to Amsterdam in February 2020, I knew that I wanted to go to the Anne Frank House, the Amsterdam Cheese Museum, and the Rijks Museum or the Van Gogh Museum. Now both the Rijks and Van Gogh Museums cost 25 euros each for entrance, thus I just couldn’t justify seeing both at that cost. So I had to decide on one, and what I considered was based on content and time.

The content was a big factor because I wanted to choose the museum that had the most exciting displays and the most Dutch history. After reading lots of reviews and scouring both websites, I chose to see the famous Rijks Museum for it has an immense collection of Dutch heritage, of which I have as well.

The time factor was also super relevant as I only had about 24 hours to spend in Amsterdam. Therefore, by choosing just one, I’d give myself more time to wander the lovely flowing canals and puddled cobblestone streets.

As for the other places I wanted to see in Amsterdam, the Anne Frank House and the Amsterdam Cheese Museum, the contents of both were essential must sees, so it was easy for me to narrow down my places to just those three. The Anne Frank House only cost about 12 euros with my student discount, so that was reasonable, and the Amsterdam Cheese Museum is free, which was awesome!! Furthermore, all my entrances in Amsterdam cost me less than 40 euros, a very good number considering the content!

A lot of the time I try to scout out all the free things to do and see first! There are actually so many ways to cost yourself zero dollars and still see/do things. One of the best options is to plan a walking route and be your own tour guide. There are always ample opportunities for taking photos, admiring architecture, looking in little shops, or just sitting on a park bench for a while to take in the scenery. By mapping out said free things to see and do, I have saved lots of money, time, and worry!! I used to be the one who arrived all hectic and stressed because I didn’t have any idea about how to choose the places to see, things to do, and how to move around between them all, but alas no more!!!

You can rest assured that if you plan ahead, you will be able to do more with your precious travel time, see more, and worry less!!!

This is a screenshot from the itinerary I made for my journey to Delft, Netherlands in February 2020. I often utilize Tripadvisor to collect information about good vs. bad sights to see based on reviews, for entrance prices, for gathering locations, and opening times. [Click on the image above to check out the Tripadvisor website : ) ]

Pictured above is a sample of navigational directions from the train station in Valencia, Spain that I found on my hostels website. They were super useful when I got off of my train because as it happened GoogleMaps was quite misleading, and as a result by following these directions I was able to find the stop for my bus that took me to my hostel. I like to add directions like these to my itinerary in case something happened to my phone as an added precaution. 

 

Pictured below is a screenshot of my hostel confirmation that I also added to my itinerary so that I would be all set to check in when I arrived. I always include this information when I form my itineraries because you never know if something will happen with your phone or internet connection, plus I prefer to save paper and not print out said confirmations! 

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