When planning an itinarary for one of the biggest touristic destinations with unlimited places and things to do, you must be organized.
It is always good to have a plan, even if you are a free traveler and want to have an open schedule, like I did, you know more or less what you want to see.
Check my own itinerary here.
Tips to plan your own itinerary
- Do a list with the places you absolutely want to see. Start big. Decide which countries first, then cities then sites.
- Look at a map and check which of those places are closer.
- Research connections: Now that you have an idea of the order in which you are going to visit some places according to their location, you can start researching the transportation methods connecting those places
- Decide if you will connect by plane or train. I believe that in Europe the best way to really enjoy it is traveling by train. Europe is very well connected by train. They are very reliable, cover almost every area, reach long distances, high speed trains will get you there in record times, is not expensive (if you book in advance, you may be paying very high prices if you book last minute). It is easy, no security check, no traveling to outside of city center for the airport, no passport needed.
A note about trains’ prices: If possible BOOK IN ADVANCE. The max I paid for a ticket was 85 which is a ticket from Sicily to La Spezia. This is literally from one point in Italy to the other. Then I usually pay from 30 to 50 Euros depending on the distances and if I am buying the ticket in advance.
- Once you know the places you want to see, review them and decide how long you want to stay there. Its unrealistic to try and do too many destinations when we don’t have much time. At the end you won’t remember where you saw this or that. Consider that you will need some rest and if you are exhausted and constantly on the road you won’t be in the best mood to enjoy.
- Research for accommodation. There are many options that do not include expensive hotels, Airbnb is one of my favorite ones.
- Once you have a settle list of destinations and accommodation knowledge DO NOT BOOK IT. If you book things very far in advance this will condition you very much on your trip. You may end up meeting amazing people on the way that tell you about some hidden beach or amazing hiking trail and you cant go because you already have your hotel reservation for your next 3 or 5 cities. Booking in advance is helpful to save money sometimes, like with trains. But at least try not to book hotels more than a week in advance, if possible.
- Stay longer in the cheaper cities. If you are in a budget, like I am, you should consider to stay for 1 or 2 nights max in the most expensive cities. I stayed longer in cities like Firenze, Rome or Sicily, and 2 days in Paris and London respectively. Italy is relatively cheaper than France and England.
- Do what you are really interested in! If you go places just to say “I have been there” but you really don’t care or appreciate certain things do not waste your time or money. Do not listed to those comments “You cannot go there and miss THAT museum/historical site/monument”. If you have zero interest in art or really do not care about ruins or history, then do things that do matter to you. My point is, do not do something because everybody does it and you feel you have to.
- Remember to be flexible. We all want to do and see it all. That is not possible sometimes, some schedules are not attainable. If you ask me is better to enjoy some special places and not rush to see all of them. You won’t remember where you have been after your trip is over. Keep the memories, those will stay forever.