Are you going on vacation or taking a business trip in the near future?
Do you want a convenient way to keep track of all your travel arrangements, connections, and reservations?
Having a well-prepared travel itinerary makes it easy to keep track of time and manage your schedule.
In this post, I offer a step-by-step process to prepare a simple travel itinerary by hand.
While travel itinerary apps abound nowadays, there is no substitute for sitting down and creating a travel itinerary yourself.
By carefully reviewing your itinerary items, one by one, you can’t help but become more familiar with your travel arrangements and schedule.
You can use these simple steps to prepare pretty much any type of travel itinerary.
Use it to create an itinerary for your next vacation, a short weekend excursion with friends, a seven-day business trip, or a local school outing.
Gather travel documents and related information.
The first step in creating a travel itinerary is to round-up all information related to your upcoming trip. You’ll need to gather any relevant emails, tickets, receipts, brochures, pamphlets, and notes related to travel, accommodations, and excursions. You may find it helpful to have a web browser open and ready on your computer, tablet, or smart phone, in case you need to research or double-check information.
Open a blank document in a text editor or word processor.
This is where you are going to compose or type your travel itinerary. A text editor or word processor makes it easy to adjust and move items quickly and easily. What’s more, you can also copy and paste text from emails, web browsers, and other documents in a pinch. At the very top of your document, type out the name of your trip, along with the start and end dates. For example, if you’re planning your summer vacation you might write out, “My Summer Getaway, July 12th – 15th.”
Create itinerary sections for information, dates/times, and notes.
The next step is to create three separate sections in your itinerary. Doing so allows you to easily organize and find information. Go ahead and divide your document into the following three sections:
General Information – This area contains the “at-a-glance” information for your trip. This space is a perfect place to store general information and resources related to your travel, such as flights, trains, buses, and car rentals; lodgings, such as hotels and motels; and contacts, such as personal or professional contact names. You can include toll-free numbers, landline phone numbers, mobile phone numbers, fax numbers, websites, social media profiles, physical and mailing addresses in this section.
Dates/Times – This is the area where you list out the different dates and times related to your trip. This section will include arrivals, departures, connections, routes, transportation hubs, reservation information, and so on.
Notes – This area is for any other information about your trip you should know about that doesn’t quite fall into the categories above. You can include notes about travel arrangements, whom to ask for when you arrive at a destination, and so on.
Write down the dates of your trip.
Under the dates/times section of your itinerary, write down each of the dates of your trip. This sets the framework for your travel itinerary, so you’ll want to make sure you include the day you leave your home or office, to the day you return to your home or office. From our example above, you’d list out all of the days, in consecutive order, like this.
Layout each day of your trip.
Now it’s time to start laying out the nuts and bolts your travel itinerary. The best way to do this is to work your way through the itinerary one day at a time, one hour at a time, from morning until night. Doing so will allow you to “virtually travel” through each stage of your trip.
All you have to do is work your way from one item to the next. And if you ever get confused, keep in mind that you will always be doing one of two things on your trip: you will either be traveling or you will be at a destination.
So, let’s say, you’ve booked your flights, car service, and hotel lodgings. You can easily drop this information into the first day of your trip, and start putting together your itinerary:
8 A.M. Leave home for Local Airport via ABC car service. Car service reservation is #334XB1.
10 A.M. Flight 324 on Example Airlines leaves Local Airport for Tropical Island Airport. Flight seat number is 14C.
3 P.M. Arrive at Tropical Island Airport and take ABC car service to Beach Hotel. Car service reservation is #908WE3
3:30 P.M. Arrive at Beach Hotel. Hotel reservation is #C12129HHT.
See how each of the travel itinerary items directly links to the next? You want to make sure each of your entries logically follows the entries immediately before and after.
Once you’ve created a daily itinerary entry, be sure to add any relevant information to your general information or notes section of your itinerary.
From the itinerary example above, you’d probably want to include phone numbers, websites, and addresses in your general information for: Local Airport, ABC Car Service, Example Airlines, Tropical Island Airport, and Beach Hotel.
Likewise, you’d probably want to add notes that correspond with your itinerary entries. For example, you might make a note to ask for the Assistant Manager at the Beach Hotel.
Be sure to repeat this process, step-by-step, for each day of your trip.
Proofread and double-check your work.
A travel itinerary is only as good as the information contained within. Be sure to double-check your work a few days later to make sure you have included everything you need. Even better still, have someone you trust review the document after your initial review to make sure there aren’t any glaring errors or omissions.
Begin by confirming general information first. For example, you’ll want to make sure you have the correct name, address, and phone number for a hotel. Check each of your general information entries to make sure things are correct.
After that, it’s time to move on to the specific dates and times of your travel itinerary. Take care and slowly work through each line of your itinerary to make sure all of the information matches your original source documents. You should also check to see if all the information contained within makes logical sense. For example, do all arrivals have matching departures?
Lastly, it’s time to confirm your notes. Are all of your notes clear and understandable? If not, you may want to add more detail or clarify a few items.
Finally, do one final check to make sure all the items in the itinerary are clear and make sense to you. And there you have it… a completed travel itinerary!
How about you? Have you ever prepared a travel itinerary? What do you think is important when it comes to preparing a travel itinerary? Join the conversation and leave a comment below!
A version of this post appeared on the blog in 2015.