August 7 2014

My husband Anthony works in events and often says that planning an event is easy; you just need to think of everything. This philosophy also applies when planning our holidays to make the best use of our time.

I’m certain that you’ve been in a situation where you’re cranky because you can’t find a place to eat come lunchtime or crashing from a full day excursion and can barely walk the next day.

Anthony and I know these feelings all too well and try to avoid those situations as much as possible. We’ve picked up a few tricks here and there when it comes to planning our holidays. 90 percent of what makes a hassle-free holiday for us comes down to planning and building an effective travel itinerary, and I’m here to share our tips.


Assuming that you’ve chosen your destination, a travel budget will give you an idea of what your holiday will look like. Some of the costs you need to consider are obviously your flight, hotel and transportation but also food, activities, entertainment and other expenses such as laundry, etc. This exercise should help you figure out how much you can do within your budget.


It’s where the fun begins. Researching things to do, places to visit, food to eat, things to buy. Read a lot of travel and local blogs, magazines, Tripadvisor, or watch travel shows on YouTube. I find Instagram to be a good tool for research as well (search by hashtags) as people are responsive and will give you personal tips.

Allow ample time for research to gain insight about the destination you’re going to and to build excitement about your upcoming trip.

Here are a few things to look for when researching:

  • Must-dos and must-sees: these are obviously the main attractions that you shouldn’t leave without seeing or doing like the Eifel Tower in Paris or the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Don’t feel pressured to fill your itinerary with this list but it should give you an idea of what might interest you.


  • Hidden spot or current hot attractions: these usually pertain to upcoming neighborhoods or areas that are gaining popularity for its art, food or shopping scenes. Look into local websites for news and trends to discover these places.


  • Local taste: I love reading articles and blogs of people giving their list of ‘best of’ (best sushi in town, the best boutique, etc.) and their favorite local hangout.
  • Personal preferences: the whole purpose of creating an itinerary is that its customized based on your tastes and preferences. If you like art history then visiting a number of museums may be a priority. Photography and food are both important to Anthony and me, so we are all about scouting magical places to shoot and to dig for good food.


  • Good time to visit: look for people’s feedback on the ideal times to visit for maybe a discount, great photo hour, or what the peak hour is (you want to avoid that).


  • Distance: figuring out the distance will give you an indication of how much travel time you need. If a place you want to go to takes an hour to get to and back, you may not want to pack your day with too many other activities. Anthony uses Google Earth to plan a daily route and estimate distances (this is also a good way to identify places to eat along the way).


  • Duration of visit: depending on how you feel about a particular place or activity, you’ll want to estimate how long it might take you to do these. Anthony now knows that I need a minimum of three hours for shopping.


Anthony created this epic itinerary template (Travel Itinerary template) that is color-coded and broken down into 30-minute intervals. Our friends are both impressed and disgusted when they see our itinerary, but it made our travels so much easier. We consider ourselves slotting pros and here are some practical things we consider when building our itinerary:

  • Spread out your day: I learned to spread out the day and slotting in one major/highlight activity a day so if all things fail, you can at least do one important thing on the itinerary.
  • Try to create a route: having some kind of route will make it easier for you to move from one place to another and avoid long traveling time. Consider clubbing attractions, activities, restaurants and bars that are in proximity. It is the easiest way to create a full day of activity.
  • Travel time: slot in travel time to get to your next destination. Antony and I prefer walking in order to discover hidden places to photograph along the way therefore our travel time is lengthier than if you use the subway.
  • Remember the weekends: every day is a weekend when you’re on holiday! It’s easy to forget that some places are closed on the weekends so consider that when putting things into your itinerary.
  • Allow for some downtime: It’s not a holiday anymore if you pack your day with activities that leave you exhausted at the end of the day. Allowing free time can help you regenerate and relax, which is the whole point of taking a holiday.



Wait, what?! “A plan is a list of things that don’t happen”, says Ryan Philippe.

I agree and disagree with this statement. It may not seem like it, but Anthony and I are very relaxed and flexible with our itinerary. There are times when we’d ditch an activity and end up hanging out at a local bar instead. Should we decide to change things up, our options are clearly laid out on paper.

It’s important to remember that creating an itinerary should be more of a guideline than a strict timetable; it’s meant make the best of your time by identifying how much you can fit in your holiday and not over or under schedule your days. Spend less time scrabbling around and more time enjoying your holiday.

Creating an itinerary makes you more prepared to discovering new places with ease and confidence. It shouldn’t bring you stress when things don’t go as planned.

Remember that your holiday is a gift to yourself so you should only do things that make you happy at that very moment, regardless of what your plans say.

P.S.: Like these tips? Download our travel templates to help you plan your next travel:

Packing list

Flight Schedule

Hotel details

Travel Itinerary template

Contact sheet



  • Anthony

    These travel tips are pretty good and the template is actually really useful.

    Does anyone else have additional tips to share please?