Thursday, August 29, 2013

Thursday + {Your Itinerary: Part One}

This is going to be a multi-part blog entry, simply because if I created my entire itinerary for a 39-day trip in one sitting, I might explode. I've broken it down into a couple steps, mostly for my sanity, but also to make the process easier if anyone else is in a similar predicament.


As I mentioned before, I approached the financial side of organizing our trip in a pretty roundabout manner. Whenever I bought anything, I took a screencap of the confirmation page, though. I remember thinking to myself, "a-ha! this will make it so easy when I organize this information later." Unfortunately, I failed to name the files with descriptions that might actually help someone locate them later, so they were just called "Screenshot 1" through "Screenshot 1000." The other night, however, I went through my entire folder of screenshots and wrote what the relevant leg of the trip on them. Now my folder looks something like this:

A peek at my amazingly organized folder of confirmation #s.

I repeated this step for all relevant information: for us, that included collecting all of our Airbnb reservations into one spot. Luckily, if you use the same website to make all your reservations (whether it's Airbnb or Couchsurfing or something else), most of your information is collected into one spot for you.


Once your information is collected into one easy-to-access pile (whether it's still on the computer or printed out in hard copies), it's time to start making your itinerary. 

Earlier in our trip, we simply took a calendar and filled it out with the cities we wanted to go to, our host's names once we confirmed them, and how we were going to get between cities. That system worked really well for that stage of our planning, but when it comes to an itinerary, I personally need a lot more detail.

I ditched the calendar idea and simply wrote the date and then all the relevant information for that date under it. Each day is organized by time--what time we need to catch the bus to get to the airport to be early enough to check-in, etc.--but I included a lot more information under each day, too, such as our host's direction of how to get to the place we're staying, their contact information, confirmation or reference numbers, bus routes, fares for buses, etc.


Since Gooligan's sister and her sister's best friend are meeting us in the middle of our trip for a couple weeks, we're lucky enough to not have to do all the work ourselves. They've agreed to take on a lot of our mutual trip places, which means that Gooligan and I are mostly responsible for the beginning and end of our trip. I would suggest just taking it a few days at a time. Spend no more than an hour or two on the project of building your itinerary, since staring at all the information can get overwhelming.

STEP #4, which I'll blog about next time I talk about next Tuesday, is about the fun stuff: figuring out what you want to do in Europe once you're actually there!


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