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Old 07-27-2009, 10:38 AM   #1
 
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Default Itineraries - good or bad?

I've got a more general question...

Is it better to have an itinerary, or not?

I went travelling round western europe last year for about 3 months on the interrail (eurail) pass. I had no itinerary. Every few days I'd pop into an internet cafe and book up a hostel, then I'd go to the train station and play any necessary supplements on my interrail pass. I enjoyed the freedom, but then again I did randomly double-back on myself a couple times due to having to be on certain train routes (I stayed in Barcelona twice, I went through Paris twice). Also I was scuppered a few times because I hadn't made reservations early enough and so all the interrail tickets had been sold on certain trains.

Planning another trip to Europe in Sept, was thinking of a much more planned out thing this time. Have already sketched out a list of places to visit, how long to spend there, train connections onwards etc. I was planning to book up a few hostels and make any necassary interrail reservations on the phone before I go, but this will mean that pretty much my entire trip will be set in stone, it doesn't feel very rock 'n' roll. More like the holiday plans of an accountant.

What are people's thoughts? I guess I just need some people to bounce ideas off...
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Old 07-27-2009, 11:27 AM   #2
 
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It really depends on what type of person you are. It looks like you can just wing it and not freak out about not having a set schedule like some people do. I prefer having a loose itinerary, just an idea of places I'd like to go but I can never stick to JUST the itinerary because I change my mind constantly.

And as you know..when you travel you hear about all these places you don't even know about. I think it's more fun and adventurous just kinda doin whatever you feel like at the moment.

When I was in Panama, I had no idea where I was staying once I got to Panama City. It was dark out, I was alone, and had no clue what I was going to do/where I was going to go....ended up being suggested a place by a guy with dreads down to his ass. Went there and met some of the coolest people ever.

So yeah..I think it's best to have a general idea of where you wanna go but always leave room for change
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Old 07-27-2009, 12:58 PM   #3
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It really depends-if I am going on a trip to specifically see or do something then I will make out some sort of itinerary. But to be honest, the best trips I have done is when I just winged it. An itinerary can be a useful thing so by all means make one, just don't be a slave to it.
Maybe instead of an itinerary, you can make a list of essential places/things to see.
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Old 07-27-2009, 06:51 PM   #4
 
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For myself I like to come up with a list of the places I really want to visit. Then I figure out a vague order that I want to do them in and other than that I just wing it but since I know what direction I am heading in I don't usually have to double back. I've had a few times that not booking in advance has bitten me in the ass and I had nowhere to stay for a night or two but that just adds to the adventure. Really I think it just depends on the type of person you are however, I have very few friends who like to travel the way I do so if they are coming I let them plan everything out and it is still fun.
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Old 07-27-2009, 08:19 PM   #5
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I've done 2 six week trips through Europe. First one was heavily planned, second one I bought a plane ticket and had a few places in mind that I wanted to visit.

Had MUCH more fun when I winged it. When I met people I enjoyed hanging out with, I'd travel with them for a while. When I enjoyed a city, I stayed as long as I wanted. When I hated a place, I got the hell out. I still majorly regret not tagging along to Ibiza with some dudes I met in Barcelona on my first trip, all because I "had" to be in Paris the next day. On all future trips I'll only have an itinerary if there's a festival or event I really want to go to.
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Old 07-28-2009, 12:42 PM   #6
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Personally, I always need an itinerary. But then again, I'm someone who needs a plan to stick with. That's being said, I am not opposed to modifying my iterinerary when it needs to be modified.

I think the biggest consideration is how much time you have versus how much you want to see. If you have little time and a specific list of things you just gotta see, then I think you'll need to be some sort of travel plan.

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Old 07-28-2009, 12:59 PM   #7
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I make a rough itinerary, then don't follow it at all. When I went to Peru I didn't do a single thing on my itinerary or even visit a single city that I planned to (except for flying into Lima of course)

That's the way I like it though, it's good to know something you want to do and then be willing to change based on who you meet, what they recommend, etc. Sometimes you don't have much choice....my second plan in Peru involved a Machu Picchu trip and we showed up at the bus station to find they had just gone on strike! So we hopped on the next bus to Bolivia instead...all part of the fun
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Old 07-29-2009, 05:23 AM   #8
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So far along my travels I have come to the conclusion that itineraries are awesome...but don't feel like you have to stick to them!

I think the best thing to do is to make an itinerary (as in research places and have an idea of where you want to go) ...then follow that path roughly until you feel like you need to stray from it or want to. Things certainly are a lot easier when you have the knowledge to back up certain decisions....
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Old 07-30-2009, 02:57 PM   #9
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I've done both... when I went to europe in winter I had a rough route planned out but we didn't book anything so we had a lot more freedom.. we added a few places, spent longer in some places, and it seemed like a really good way to travel. being winter it meant that it was easier to find a spare bed, but in some cities we did end up wandering around all afternoon trying to find a hostel.
when I went in summer last year I didn't want to waste any time finding beds so I planned and booked the entire trip before we left. I was really happy with that because we had more time to relax, and it meant I could look hostels up online before we left and choose the best one - no dodgy hostels!
both ways of travelling have their merits, but I think it depends a lot of where you're going, what time of year it is, who you're going with, whether it's you first trip, etc etc.
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Old 08-04-2009, 05:17 AM   #10
 
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I don't want to make one sound better than another, because I enjoy both, but when I had an itinerary, it wasn't as expensive as when I just winged it. Once I stopped being a student, I apparently had to do 'important things' like pay council tax, so making an itinerary really helped me out in the savings department.
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Old 08-04-2009, 09:10 PM   #11
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Even when you choose to wing it, it's still a plan.

I'm more of a "rough plan and wing it" kind of guy. It's a vacation and I don't like any kind of pressure whatsoever on my vacations. I just want to relax, enjoy, and be fully present in the moment (this is the real key to an enjoyably successful trip, in my opinion).

I can't do the 3 days here, 2 days there, 4 days over here, etc...

For me, I work better with ranges- 3-7 days here, a week or two there. It just depends on how I feel, who I meet, and keeping my soul fed.

Sometimes good life altering things happen when you backtrack too. Happened to me...and I have a kid to prove it!

I don't think booking a few hostels online and making reservations by phone for trains will set your trip in stone.

Book the first night or two online, save time at the beginning, then when you're there, wing it...You can still book online while you're at the very hostel that you are about to book online with, that is if you have already enjoyed being there.

Trains can be reserved a day or two in advanced if you're traveling with the Eurail pass.

Since you are a seasoned traveler and know what to expect, I'd say that if your gut feeling is doing a more planned out trip this time, then that is the correct answer.

If you don't plan this one out like you think you should, then you're always going to wonder if you should have done a planned trip and if you would have had a better time on your travels.

Hope that makes sense. Good luck!
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:39 AM   #12
 
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Thanks to all for the advice and stories posted above! Leaning towards an itinerary. Really this thread has just reinforced to me the way people do things differently and that there are not 'right' or 'wrong' ways to travel. Which is nice.
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Old 08-13-2009, 07:45 AM   #13
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Hi Leonardo ! I'd have a request : would you post your thoughts on the subject after your coming back home? It will be interesting to see what you think, once you've experienced the journey abroad.

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Old 08-13-2009, 08:32 AM   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Esterina View Post
Hi Leonardo ! I'd have a request : would you post your thoughts on the subject after your coming back home? It will be interesting to see what you think, once you've experienced the journey abroad.

Will do (provided I remember!)
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Old 08-13-2009, 10:02 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian Bacon View Post
Personally, I always need an itinerary. But then again, I'm someone who needs a plan to stick with. That's being said, I am not opposed to modifying my iterinerary when it needs to be modified.

I think the biggest consideration is how much time you have versus how much you want to see. If you have little time and a specific list of things you just gotta see, then I think you'll need to be some sort of travel plan.

CB
I'm going to revise what I said earlier, because I'm totally gonna wing my two week adventure in Spain. I mean, I'll probably have a list of hostels to check out... but nothing booked, no definite plans.

I just know I'll be going south... then east.
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Vincent: "So what you gonna do?"
Jules: "Well, basically, I'm just gonna walk the earth."
Vincent: "What you mean 'walk the earth'?"
Jules: "You know, like Kane in 'Kung Fu'...go places...meet people...get in adventures."

Trips (only counting recreational travel):
FIRST TRIP (2005): FIRST EUROTRIP EVER! UK, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland
SECOND TRIP (2007): First Solo Trip! Greece, Turkey, Syria, Spain
2008: China (Beijing, Shanghai, Yangshuo) ...right before the Olympics!
2009: Japan & HK, Southern Spain
[size=1]2010: All over Lebanon, Ibiza (Spain), Oktoberfest (Germany), Thailand.
2011: India (Goa), Jordan, Jerusalem, San Sebastian (Spain), Amsterdam (again), London, Driving from Vancouver to L.A. (stopping in Portland, Seattle, San Fran and all the little stops), Montpellier (France), Geneva and Lausanne (Switzerland)

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Old 08-14-2009, 03:32 PM   #16
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I like to research where I am going and make an itenerary based on the route that is most time and cost efficient. Then after doing all that I reserve the first part of my trip. Then I just see what the road holds.
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