Are you planning an independent vacation in a strange city for the first time? Even seasoned travelers can be intimidated by the thought of trying to plan out all the details that they normally leave to travel and tour professionals. But you can craft the perfect getaway for yourself by following four steps.
1. Start With What You Know
Generally, if you are traveling to a different city or state, you're doing so because you know a little about what it holds. Write down what you do know and what drove you to choose that area. For a trip to Los Angles, for example, you might include seeing the famous Hollywood sign or posh Beverly Hills. But don't forget to include experiences, such as frolicking in the surf or renting a convertible.
2. Research the Area
Build on what you know by doing some research about various options. Look at online tourism websites and recommendations. Talk with others who have been there. Get a guidebook and start marking interesting details. Look for intriguing things to do, restaurant recommendations, and hotel options.
When you find something with potential, write down a few details like pricing, location, accessibility, and the most important features. This way, you don't have to constantly backtrack to remember details.
3. Create Priority Lists
Take the ideas you accumulated in the research stage and distill them into three specific lists. You should have a list of places to eat, places to stay, and places to visit. Start numbering the items on each list in order of how excited each one makes you feel or how important it is to you.
This list should be personal to each traveler. For example, many automatically assume that Disneyland is a must-do for L.A. tourists. But seriously consider how many things below it on your list you're willing to give up. And don't be swayed by what others might prioritize instead.
4. Implement a Plan
Once you have the priorities in hand, start crafting a daily itinerary that's realistic and enjoyable. Begin with your top few priorities and add others only as it becomes logical. On that trip to L.A, you'll need to account for traffic patterns, which you can find by using your cellphone's mapping app. Write down time frames between stops and always leave wiggle room so you aren't stressed.
The creation of a daily plan may take a few tries to get right, so be patient. Remember that those travel pros you've used spent years crafting the right itinerary. Give yourself a few tries to find an optimal route and time table. And have fun with it!
As you move through these few steps of planning the perfect trip, your priorities and schedule will begin to make themselves clear. Then when the big day comes, you'll be able to embark on this new adventure with confidence and excitement.