When you decide to make a trip to a destination for your vacation, you may wonder if you need to have a trip itinerary, which includes trip activities, trip locations, cost estimations, trip logistics, backup plans, etc, and guides a traveler during a trip. In this article, I survey the pros and cons of having a trip itinerary.
There are mainly five pros of having a trip itinerary:
1. Time Management. It lets travelers allocate their time efficiently.
2. Cost Management. It allows travelers to control their trip budget.
3. Do more in less time. Travelers can do task scheduling and fit many trip activities for each trip day. In other words, they will assign the durations for each trip activity, so as to accomplish more in one day.
4. Learn More From The Trip. Having an itinerary will enable you to learn more from your trip. That is, as soon as you land on your destination, you know exactly what to do, where to go, how, and when to visit your designated trip locations.
5. Trip Activity Balancing. When finishing your day-to-day itinerary, you can easily balance among different trip activities. like history explorations, sight seeing, beach, etc.
There are eight cons of having a trip itinerary:
1. Preparation time and effort. Sometimes, it may take a few days to come up with a crafted itinerary. Indeed, you need to take into account many factors, like trip logistics, activity scheduling, budgeting, backup planning, etc, to come up with an organized itinerary.
2. Back up Plans. Unless you are an experienced traveler, you may not be able to make comprehensive backup plans (Read "Trip Emergency Plans: Why They Matter" for details).
3. Cost Analyses. Trip budgeting and cost management in a proper way requires some basic knowledge of accounting.
4. Lack of Flexibility. Since everything (every activity on each day) is already pre-planned in your itinerary, you do not have the flexibility to do extra activities that you face by chance during your trip. For example, you may plan for sight-seeing of a small village for half of a day. However, when you get to the village, you will realize that there is a special captivating community event organized on that evening. So to adhere to your itinerary, you reluctantly pass it.
5. Activity Dependencies. Following up our last example, if you decide to attend the community event, you need to skip your visit to a museum in the evening, and this change of plan may cause other changes in the following day's plans. Indeed, the majority of novice trip planners do barely take the activity dependency management into their consideration, and they may end up having confusions if one of the main dependent activities does not follow through.
6. Vacation or nightmare. If you get too meticulous about your itinerary and detailed activity planning, you may experience a nightmare rather than a vacation. After all, the whole point of a vacation is to get away from stress and enjoy your time. Therefore, you end up looking at your watch and itinerary task table with lots of stress to follow them through instead of enjoying your time.
7. Exhaustion Matters. The obvious upshot of a detailed itinerary is fatigue and exhaustion. Seeing one place after another and arranging different activities from morning to evening may have a negative effect on your trip experience.
8. Experience and Foresight. Unless you know the destination very well or are using an experienced tour operator, your itinerary may leave a lot to be desired. As mentioned earlier, you need a trip foresight, knowledge of the destination's culture, and backup plans to craft a right itinerary. For example, your Smartphone or your advance trip tools may not function properly in the destination country, contrary to what you planned.
After reviewing the pros and cons of having an itinerary, you might wonder how to manage your next trip without an itinerary. The only solution I know of, based on my years of experience in trip planning, is to have a light flexible trip plan similar to what is offered via the Above Zest tour operator (read "Why Above Zest Is Really Above Zest" and "10 Criteria For Selecting the Best Tour Operator" for details). For instance, Above Zest crafts different types of itineraries based on factors, such as the traveler's age, the purpose of the trip, the destination country, the length of the trip, the traveler's budget, the destination's local activities to overcome the cons of the detailed itinerary. As a result, high school students may see three daily activities, college students only one or two main activity, and one activity for adults is expected. Also, Above Zest includes trip parties and live events where travelers can drink and socialize while getting away from school or work stress (read "Drink, Party, Music: Life And Soul of College Trips" for more info).