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How to create a perfect travel itinerary?

There’s a Bunny from Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani in all of us. One who is crazy about making a travel bucket list long before we start traveling. And also passionate about completing it. We read about places and experiences from our friends, social media, newspapers and we keep improvising the bucket list. When we plan our travel journeys, it is always to tick off most of the items from our bucket list. This is where a perfect travel itinerary comes into the picture. To ensure that all our travel goals are ticked off! Let me give you my suggestions on how to create a perfect travel itinerary.

This is a part of our exhaustive Ultimate Guide to Travel Planning.

Why do we need a perfect travel itinerary?

I started traveling with my husband after marriage. For many years we used to rely on consultants to arrange these tours for us. But we used to end up finding out the touristy places we have seen are not so great. And while doing so, we have missed out on some other interesting experiences that we might have enjoyed. So we decided to skip asking the travel consultants to book the trip. We decided to do everything ourselves. Creating a perfect travel itinerary helped us in having the kind of travel we wanted. And it also ensured that we ticked off many items from our bucket list.

a. Do not miss out on experiences

Although a cab option might be available, but it is so much fun to travel by bus, train. Again resorts might be great, but there is fun in a homestay or farm stay or camping. You might also want to catch a glimpse of the local festival or try a new adventure while you are in the vicinity. So when you research the place, understand the locale and culture. It helps you to shortlist the experiences you might want to have when you travel.

b. Do not miss out on opportunities

We were planning to travel to the US west coast in August. After our research, we found out that summer in August was the peak season. Everything was very costly. So we dropped the idea of traveling in August and changed the dates. This helped save us our money! Keep researching the places you want to visit and keep your eyes open for any savings and discounts.

c. Building a bucket list

Making your own travel itinerary also sets goals for your next trip. For example, if you are planning a family trip and you come across an adventure outing. It can go into your travel bucket list. So whenever you are going to travel to that city next you can try the adventures you missed out earlier.

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How to create a perfect travel itinerary

The basic rule is to not over do it. Keep the travel itinerary as simple as possible. Also the goal of your travel should be very clear before you start working on an itinerary. So whether you want an adventure, a relaxed trip or a family fun trip should be clear before you start your travel research.

1. Create a visual bucket list

Create a bucket list of destinations you would like to visit. Make a list of places, experiences and stay options you can find under those destinations. You can create a visual board under pinterest. Or start sticking these options in notes. This information will be helpful when you plan your next travel.

2. Gathering information

You need to include the following in your travel itinerary –

  • Travel and logistics
  • Stay arrangements
  • Sightseeing
  • Restaurants to be visited and food to be tasted
  • Experiences and adventures

Gather all the relevant information about tickets, fares, timings for visit, holidays, etc. I generally start with Lonely Planet and then move ahead to other things in Google.

Do not forget to Google ‘Unique things to do in ….’. I always do it while creating my visual bucket list. Also, I do not just stop at the sightseeing bucket list. I make sure to include research on festivals, rituals, special food items, cafes, unique and old shops, book stores and unique restaurants too. If your area of interest is music, make sure to search for good bands in the city and make sure you visit them. After all not just the places, but these experiences make up good memories too!

3. Building up an itinerary

I start by making a rough itinerary based on my research notes on availability of logistics (flights as well as internal travel), hotels and sight seeing places. You can use websites like to check the availability of travel and hotels and Lonely Planet for sight seeing.

You can fill in the rest of the days with travel experiences and adventures you wish to have. Many travel bloggers suggest using an Evernote app, but I rely on good old excel with all screen shots of maps, addresses and other information.

Start putting all the information you have gathered day wise in this excel sheet. Once everything is in one place, you can start with okaying and deleting few items on the list. You can also mark a few ‘maybes’ if you want.

4. Leave some blank cells

In the excel, do not fill up each and every time slot of your travel calendar. Leave some blank cells free for some last minute shopping, adventures or experiences. A stressed itinerary creates unnecessary pressure. Whereas a relaxed itinerary ensures that you get time to enjoy the sights, food, people and places you are visiting.  Also whenever you are travelling abroad, leave room for jet lag and sleep.

5. Do not ignore the Maybes

You might find that the place you wanted to visit is closed for maintenance or not so interesting after all. And suddenly a slot has opened up in your itinerary. Your maybes will help you in these cases. These surprise, unexpected experiences also help build good memories.

6. Storing the travel itinerary

After you finalise the travel itinerary, storing it in easily accessible place is important. A digital version can be mailed to yourself to be accessed from your mobile phone. Being old school, I also like to carry a printed version with me. Whatever works for you, but you ensure that you have it handy during your travel. You might also want to leave a printed version with your family.

Also refer to our ‘Ultimate Travel Planning Guide‘ to plan your travels!

Simple, right? It does not have to be a tedious process. In fact building a perfect travel itinerary can be enjoyable as a me time activity too! What do you think? Share with us your favourite travel itineraries in the comments below!

Happy traveling!

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