When you are planning your travel, you may be considering an itinerary. It would include your entire trip schedule, destinations, logistics, activities, accommodations, and other details relevant to your trip.
What Decides If You Should Have An Itinerary Or Not?
While some travelers prefer spontaneity, others need to have some order and planning to their travels. We have talked to experts in the travel and tourism world and here’s what they have to say about the pros and cons of an itinerary.
Pro#1 You Can Book Your Activities in Advance so They Aren’t Sold Out For You
“When you travel with an itinerary, it lets you book your hotels, shows, attractions, and tours in advance. Many of the best things to do will sell out in advance, and if you wait until you are in your destination to book your travel, you risk missing out on the best and most popular tours and hotels. We always recommend setting an itinerary and booking your travel in advance when traveling.”
Matthew Meier, the Founder of MaxTour
Pro#2 Time and Cost Saver
“Having a travel itinerary plan is always a good idea mainly because you have an early idea of places of interest in a certain area. This means you can cover the sights all at once without having to keep traveling back to the same district/neighborhood. This is a real time and cost saver, especially if you only have limited time. This works best for big cities like New York, Buenos Aires where there are multiple districts that are considered tourist spots.” (Rax Suen, Founder)
Con#1 Stress in Keeping to Schedule
“However, a common mistake is letting the travel itinerary drive your whole trip. This can sometimes result in travel stress and a rush of touch-and-go at every place. In that case, you risk creating a tiresome experience where you don’t really get to enjoy or understand the local culture. A travel itinerary should always just be a rough plan in support to creating happy and immersive travel memories.”
Rax Suen, Founder NomadsUnveiled, a travel writer who also hosts a travel podcast.
Pros#3 Maximizes the Trip, Prioritizes Your Activities
“Anytime I’m traveling to a new location or considering traveling somewhere, I spend a good deal of time researching the area and the things to do. Then, I make a list of the things I really want to do and start building an itinerary around those things. Having the list of must-see activities and building an itinerary around them helps me to plan the vacation so that I can maximize the trip. If I’m visiting a new place, I want to see and do as much as I can. Building the itinerary also helps me prioritize my top activities, as I will find that I may not always have time for everything. As such, the main advantage of having an itinerary is that it ensures you see and do what matters most to you and helps to keep you on schedule.” (Tawnya Redding)
Con#2 Keeps You Too Busy
“On the other hand, sometimes having a travel itinerary has you so busy that you need a vacation for your vacation! That is the main drawback I’ve experienced, and sometimes I run myself ragged trying to see and do everything I want to. I’ve learned over the years that I need to build in some rest time. I also take trips solely for relaxation where I don’t have to worry about keeping a schedule.”
Tawnya Redding, elementary special education teacher and co-blogger at Money Saved is Money Earned.
Pro#4 Manage to Get the Tickets Ahead of Time
“You’ll be able to make ticket purchases ahead of time. If you’re planning to watch a Broadway show, an itinerary would allow you to make your purchases ahead of time.” (Jack Miller)
“You can estimate your budget better. Having an itinerary means you already have an idea where to go. That also means you’ll have a rough estimate of the amount you’ll spend. This will allow you to budget accordingly.” (Jack Miller)
“You have more time in your hands. By knowing where to go in advance, you use your time more efficiently. In effect, you can explore more places throughout the trip.” (Jack Miller)
Con#3 Things Can Get Stressful
“Adhering to an itinerary may not bode well with your trip companions. That could cause some tensions to arise, which could turn your trip into a stressful experience.” (Jack Miller)
Con#4 A Tedious Task
“Preparing one can be too time-consuming. Especially if you’re traveling to a place with numerous sceneries and destinations, planning an itinerary could be a tedious chore in itself. This could also add stress to your supposedly relaxing trip.” (Jack Miller)
Con#5 Lack of Flexibility
Following an itinerary would hinder you from freely exploring a place, which is what a tourist should be doing in the first place. I usually have a shortlist of places to go to as a guide, but I don’t follow it to the tee. When it comes to trips, I am more about spontaneity.”
Jack Miller, the founder of How I Get Rid Of
The Bottom Line?
“The perfectly curated itinerary ensures you see all the sights you want, with the freedom to wander about. When you go to Italy, you’ll probably want to see the sights in Rome and Florence, and surely you will. But you’ll also meet a local winemaker for a tasting before wandering the cobblestone village on your own. I like to combine a solid itinerary- so you know what train and when- with unique experiences and time to discover the destination on your own.
“A bike or food tour in Paris provides an interesting lay of the land, boosting your confidence to explore on your own the next day. To be well traveled is a delicate balance between planning and going with the flow.”
Elizabeth Breault, Founder ROAM, Kid Curated Tour Collective, ImpulseTravel by Design