Brasov, Romania

READER’S REQUEST: How to Create Amazing Itineraries

One of my biggest Global Debauchery fans is my “little” cousin, who’s actually going to be 21 this summer. She’s done a fair bit of travelling with her family growing up, but recently embarked on her first solo international trip to Amsterdam and Berlin. She had some difficulty forming her itinerary and requested that I drop some itinerary know-how on my blog. So, Baby Cuz, this one’s for you.


Where Do I Even Begin?

The #AdventurePartnerForLife and I have, like, fifty places on our bucket lists, of course. We’ve been fortunate enough to check off a nice number of them, but this actually makes choosing our next destination even harder since all the really compelling destinations are done. How do we even start? Well, I’m somewhat of an avid wanderluster, so I subscribe to a number of great travel blogs and I even collect travel inspiration coffee table books. One of my favorite books to get every year for Christmas is Lonely Planet’s annual Best In Travel. This let’s me check out up-and-coming locations, which usually equates to affordable locations off the beaten path (my favorite). Yes, cost is one of the major drivers in our planning-selection process. Until more recently, we were very much budget travelers, and we still won’t pay for something just because we can; it needs to make financial sense. The best way to save money to a specific destination? Travel during the shoulder season. Also, have a couple places in mind and scour some discount travel sites to see if there are any offers to one of your places. All set with your location selection?


Determining Your Sights

Once we’ve picked where we’re going, we order our favorite books and do a deep dive. We particularly like DK Eyewitness Travel Guides, but Lonely Planet has a big selection of e-books if you’re looking to pack light, be green, or just keep your place clutter-free. While we’re waiting for our new arrival, we do some preliminary research online. We tend to Google Image search, helps us see what the hype is really all about. (More on our favorite travel resources here.)

Now, it may seem over the top, but from there, the #AdventurePartnersForLife actually start a Google Doc. We make lists of everything we want to see from our books and online and rank them into must-sees, nice-to-sees, and if-we’re-in-the-areas. Why do we go through all this trouble? Because we only have so much time and we want to make certain we don’t have any regrets. We’ve done a trip or two where we’ve winged it, but actually, they haven’t been nearly as exciting as the well-planned ones we’ve taken. After our last fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants trip, we decided planning was the way to go for us, personally. If we had extended timelines or never ending holidays, we might be a little more casual in our approach. If you’re not as anal retentive about your itineraries as I am or just don’t have this kind of time to invest, I really do recommend DK’s walking tours or Rough Guides’ suggested itineraries.


Creating Travel Routes

From our lists, I organize sights by area and route. There are any number of ways to do this, some easier than others. A lot of times, it just so happens that most of our must-sees and nice-to-sees are on DK’s pre-determined walking tours. You could add your picks to a Google map and note the groupings. You could download any number of travel planning apps, add your sights, and look at that map. We find that we often see a lot more things than we were even intending to just because they were en route to something we really wanted to see. These general groupings save touring time and help me decide where to book our hotels. I also might book a hotel close to a transportation hub if it’s not in a seedy area or if we’re planning to be on the move. For more ideas on getting from point A to point B, you might find this recent Freestyle Debauchery article helpful. We also rely heavily on the transportation sections of our travel books. These educate us on our options and familiarize us with where everything can be accessed.


Power Tourist Adjustments

The #AdventurePartnerForLife and I often refer to ourselves as power tourists. We tend to pack a lot into a short period of time, and sometimes even overdo it. My husband, ever the eternal optimist, always shoots for the moon when it comes to our itineraries. If I don’t reign him in, we end up spending more time on the road than actually enjoying our surroundings and we rush from place to place, a practice that leaves us worn out and wanting to sleep more than sightsee. Admittedly, there have been a few times where I myself encouraged the same thing. Either way, it doesn’t end up being very fun. This being said, know when to cut things out, and be selective about what you want to spend your time doing. The truth is that there will always be more that you wished you would’ve seen, whether in the destination you’re visiting or one you haven’t been to yet. The idea is to get the most out of the time you have. And to enjoy it. You’re still out in the world experiencing something new. Don’t take that for granted.


I hope you’ve found this article helpful in creating the itinerary of a lifetime, and that maybe you’ve found some new ideas and resources in helping you do so. Not everyone is as structured in their approach as we might be, but for me, creating an itinerary is almost as fun as actually being on the trip. Almost. Other ideas? Comment away below!


Up next: Created after the #AdventurePartnerForLife’s travel tradition, pre-flight (and post-flight) libations from around the world in your next “Freestyle Debauchery.”


Today’s featured photo: One of the most difficult itineraries I’ve had the pleasure of putting together was for our trip to Turkey, Bulgaria, and Romania. The train system is old and inconsistent and the bus lines are all privatized. These countries are not part of the Schengen Agreement, so border checks abound. Not to mention everything is in Cyrillic in Bulgaria. Forced to make travel plans on the fly, we did actually make it to every destination we intended with a little research beforehand, including Brasov, Romania.

© 2016 Jordan Campbell. All rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “READER’S REQUEST: How to Create Amazing Itineraries

    1. Thank you for the comment, Risa! Well, we didn’t get to see as much of Bulgaria as we would have liked, but we really loved what we did get to see. We drove up from Istanbul and stayed for a few days in Sozopol. We also drove from Sozopol to Ruse and most of that drive in the country was just beautiful! Would have loved to have spent more time on the coast or in the west. Have you been before?

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      1. Yes. My husband is Bulgarian and we have lived there together twice for two-year periods as well as many visits over the years. We’ll be there with our children this summer and can’t wait. I have never been to Ruse, but know that for many years it was considered the Vienna of Bulgaria with its beautiful belle époque architecture.

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      2. Koprivshtitza, Triavna, Balchik, Nessebar, Melnik, old town Plovdiv, and old town Bansko are all lovely. Much depends on your interests – quaint towns and villages, historical sites, archeology (BG is the gift that keeps on giving archeologically), beach, mountain, forest, lake, monasteries, spa experiences (BG has been famous since Roman times for its hot mineral springs). Let me know and I can make some suggestions.

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