Updated: Aug 18, 2019
Relaxation. Adventure. Traveling the country or maybe the world. The possibilities are endless when it comes to taking a trip. Day trip, road trip, cross country, or across an ocean. But before you get to the relaxation and enjoyment, you must first know where you are going, how you are getting there, and what you will be doing when you arrive.
I recently returned from my own excursion. My annual family trip with my husband, my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend. We explored the beautiful southwest part of the United States. We covered Flagstaff, the Grand Canyon, Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend all in Arizona. We then went on to Zion National Park in Utah, followed by Las Vegas. And finally for my parents, San Diego. It was a trip full of natural wonders and lots of precious family time. And it was also a trip where we were on the go...a lot! So how did we keep on track? It had everything to do with our handy trip itinerary.
So what should your trip itinerary include? Here is a list of some of the most used and needed information for traveling.
1. Flights: (if you or anyone in your group is taking a flight). Include the departure city/airport, the airline, the flight number, departure time, arrival time, and arrival city/airport.
2. Accommodations: Include the check in/out times, the name and address of the hotel/Airbnb/VRBO/campground, etc. Also, if staying at an Airbnb or VRBO property, include the name of the owner/property manager, their contact information, and any entry or access codes needed for the property.
3. Car Rental: Rental pick up/drop-off time and pick up/drop-off location. Include a reservation confirmation number and even the cost you are expecting to pay.
4. Driving: We did an enormous amount of driving in the week that we were gone. We covered over 500 miles in about 10 hours and visited 7 different locations! We also braved wildfire and flash flood warnings, and a really gross (and completely harmless) grasshopper invasion. If you are going to be visiting several destinations in one trip, logistics and timing is important. One of my favorite websites/apps to use is www.roadtripper.com. It is free to sign up and helps streamline your entire road trip. It has great features like fuel cost estimation and the ability to search for activities and hotels along your route.
5. Daily Activities: Here is where you can include plans for meals, excursions, and side trips. With dinner reservations include time of the reservation and location of the restaurant. With side trips and excursions, make sure you know the approximate length of time these may take and allow yourself some wiggle room here. It's best to account for extra time just in case they run longer or you want to spend a little more time exploring.
One of my favorite tips for planning: allow for downtime! Don't forget this is a vacation after all. Leave some free time available for people in your group to do their own thing. Provide a list of activities or restaurants instead of making reservations every night. Allow for some freedom and spontaneity. Be flexible to change and make adjustments if necessary.
6. Use A Calendar: Make your itinerary visual appealing and easy to read. Not only were we able to use this on our trip, I can also include it my photo book so we can remember where we went and what we did. This beautiful image is doing double duty!
You can design your own with one of my favorite free websites, www.canva.com. You can also use Google calendar or even just good old pen and paper.
7. Additional Details: Pay attention to time zones as you travel. In this experience we were in several different time zones. It's also important to note which states observe Daylight Savings Time (Arizona does not). And since we had an activity planned on a Navajo reservation, they observed a different time zone than Arizona. Wow! So many time zones to keep in check. Also, I mentioned the wildfires, flash floods, and a grasshopper invasion. These things all actually happened to us! We had to divert around wildfires and the resulting smoke as we were driving. We had to be cautious of where we went with the flash flood warnings so we weren't swept away (Turn around, don't drown PSA!). And to be honest, I'm not sure if the grasshoppers could have been predicted. While I'm prepared for a lot of things, I definitely don't bring a bug net on most trips. The lesson to learn here, is to be aware of the different climates you visit and what that can mean as far as what type of weather to expect. While flash floods and wildfires aren't the norm in Michigan, they are certainly very real in the Southwest United States.
Having a trip itinerary definitely eases the stress and anxiety that can go along with being away from home and traveling. This handy document is great if you are traveling solo, as a twosome, or in a group. Having it accessible on your smart phone so you don't lose it is another convenient bonus. Next time you are planning a getaway, try using a one and done document to help guide you!
If you are interested in having someone help plan your next trip, reach out to A Meaningful Space. Organizing is not just about physical items, it is also about time and calendar management and having peace of mind. You can contact A Meaningful Space through the contact page at www.ameaningfulspace.com or call at (586) 342-1280. Virtual services are also available if you or someone you know are not in the metro Detroit area.
“A vacation helps to relieve stress and boredom, gives us a change of scenery, provides us with adventure, and helps to bring us closer to the people in our lives.” – E. S. Woods