Okay, so I know the phrase ‘travel itinerary’ makes a trip sound totally boring and planned down to the minute, but trust me on this, it can seriously be a life saver. Japan has been my first long haul trip in a year after doing loads of mini European city breaks. With only two weeks, and so many places to see I was overwhelmed to say the least. This lead to me creating an Excel file (probably the first time i’d ever done so willingly) to sort out my trip. So here are the steps I take when I’m organising my travels! (Update: After coming back from my travels in Japan, I can 100% say this itinerary was my lifesaver when I was jet lagged and told me what I was doing without my effort on my part).
STEP 1 | Research, Research, Research!
Before any holiday really I’m researching the best places to visit, to eat and to stay. My top tip in this area is to really go beyond your Lonely Planet and the standard first hits on google when you type in ‘what to do in Japan’. Travel blogs are a great resource, some of my favourites include World of Wanderlust, Find Us Lost and The Blonde Abroad. Instagram is another one of my top resources; I’ll normally go on popular hashtags for the area such as #visitjapanau and scroll until I find places that look beautiful or interesting (hint: the new collections feature on Insta is amazing and lets you sort out your saves by topic). Also, don’t only research places to go, but also bucket list experiences you might want to try.
STEP 2 | Find The Patterns
During your research you should probably be writing everything down as you go. I found that as I write down the places I want to go see or experience, they normally fall into a certain pattern, normally by area. For example, in Kyoto Japan, some of the temples and a bamboo forest that I wanted to see were located in the west whilst others were up North. Obviously, I did the western area on one day and the north on another; it might take some time figuring out what is close to what but it just means that you save so much time during your trip by not travelling long distances for no reason.
It’s worth noting that once you’ve got a main skeleton of each day you can go more in depth with research. In regards to my trip to Japan, once I had decided I was going to a town called Nara for one of my days in Japan, I did more research and found another beautiful town that was on the same train line, so I added that in as a stopover before reaching Nara as my final destination.
STEP 3 | Putting It All Together
The least fun part for me is actually writing up each day. I used one of the ready made templates on Excel and adapted it to what I wanted. You’ll see that I never add in exact times, the day still has some flexibility in that way. But the order of what you see is also important depending on your priorities. I wanted to get to certain places before the crowds rolled in so I made sure to put those places first and the places I was least fussed about where last.
STEP 4 | Remember To Go With The Flow
You’re 99% likely to not stick to your itinerary and that is completely okay. Some days you’ll wake up and just feel like chilling instead of seeing three temples and shrines, or one day it’ll be pissing it down so it’s probably better to skip the hour hike up a mountain. I definitely wasn’t the best at this as in the beginning I felt like I needed to tick off everything on my list or I was doing something wrong. But I burned out pretty quickly and learned my lesson, it’s still a holiday after all!
Happy Travelling! Also who else can’t wait for my Japan posts ah!