Plan Your DIY Travel Itinerary

Edited by Jan Margery Castillo, Anonymous, Lynn, Eng and 1 other

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Your phone alarm rings and you hit the snooze button. You repeat the same process at least five more times before dragging yourself to the shower to start your predictable same old regular routine. Wake up. Go to work. Yawn in front of your computer screen. Pretend to be busy. And just watch for the clock to strike 6 p.m. If this happens to you daily, then you are totally bored. What's the best way to spice things up? Travel!

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The idea of travelling itself makes one perky. Everyone deserves to have a vacation at least once a year, so why not start planning your own now? Hit the web and book a flight. Get a pen and paper because this article will help you sketch a perfect DIY travel itinerary to make that vacation count!

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DIY Travel or Package Tour?

There is a never-ending debate about which is better - to prepare your own travel itinerary, or to buy a package tour? The answer really relies on the person or the group who is travelling. Each has pros and cons and it depends on different factors.

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Personality of the traveller

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    Adventure-seeker.
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    Most people who prefer to go DIY are more adventurous and they like the flexibility of going to whatever places their feet take them. They are open to unexpected thrills and are challenged to discover places on their own. They find meeting new people and interacting with the locals an opportunity for them to embrace the culture of the city they are visiting. If the place is too cool for them, they don't really mind overstaying. This is the downside when travelling with a tour agency. Your time is limited and you follow a certain schedule. While it is true that there is a sense of security and orderliness, the places you travel to and the time allotted to explore those places are limited.
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    Detail-oriented.
    For short stays, especially for people who don't have much time to plan their own itinerary, it is advisable to go for a package tour. This enables them to simply go on with their work duties and just leave and board a train for a weekend that has been well-prepared for them. There is less hassle and effort when you choose to buy a package holiday compared to those who are doing their own itinerary. But if you are the type of person who likes to personalize everything, then DIY is your best preference. You make every detail count by spending tedious amount of research on places you want to discover, restaurants or hole in the wall street food stalls you want to eat at, and quality but more affordable hostels to stay in.
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Package

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    Solo traveller.
    For solo travellers who are brave enough to explore alone, DIY is a better option. It's okay to join a package tour, but it's going to cost you more because the tendency is that most of the room accommodation are shared. Unless you are willing to pay for the price of two, or you are willing to share a room with strangers to save some bucks, then you can opt for an agency-assisted tour. But there are disadvantages too because you don't know who you are going to share bedrooms with. It could be a good thing because you'll be meeting some fellow travellers, but it's risky at the same time. Most of the travellers who go for package tours are couples and families. Again, unless it's totally fine with you to be partner-less, you can still choose that arranged tour. However, a DIY tour would enable you to choose what food you can eat, where you can stay, how you are going to enjoy your every single day, and who you want to meet and mingle with.
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    Travel with a group.
    A package tour is ideal for large groups on financial aspect. Travel agencies get discounts when they purchase in bulk for their travel deals offer. It's also less hassle to gather the group at certain times because you know that a tourist guide will do that for you. Small groups can still choose DIY travel itineraries, especially if they are really bonded and they all share the same interest. Many backpackers enjoy a great deal of their vacation time because they are not restricted by fixed schedules. They are free to go wherever they want and to do whatever they want.
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Duration of travel

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    Long stays.
    DIY is perfect for those who are travelling for a long period of time. They purposely book a later flight because they want to make the most of their travel. They are open for chances to meet the unexpected and some peculiar experiences along the way. Some people who book a package tour also choose the longer stays, but it's more practical to do it your own. You can save a lot and sometimes you don't necessarily want stick to a strict schedule because you might be missing something.
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    Short stays.
    Some people who are too busy don't have much time to spend on long vacation days. They can't afford to take care of their own itinerary. It's fine for them as long as they get away with their daily work and routine, at least for a short period of time.
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Budget

Those who prefer a package tour think that people who choose to go DIY travel cannot afford a package tour.

JanMargery DollarSign.png

Those who choose DIY travel think that people who choose a package tour are less adventurous and that they settle for something less. There's no right preference here. But it is true that you can do more when you choose to arrange your travel by yourself because you don't need to pay for a travel agent's commission. You can budget your accommodation, food, and activities on your own. It's fun because you do not only get to save a few bucks, but you also get the chance to explore the place and learn in-depth information about it even before you get there. It's like doing a virtual tour of your own for free.

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Start your DIY Travel Itinerary

Doing your own travel itinerary can be a big effort, confusing, stressful and it can consume you, especially when things don't go your way. Expect to make many adjustments, but the process is quite fun, especially if you're the type of person who likes to make things personal. Here are some guides on how to start your own travel itinerary.

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Where to go?

Your destination is the first thing you need to think of when planning your DIY travel. Whether you want to go out of town or out of the country, you need to consider several factors before deciding on your destination.

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    Write a list of places you have been meaning to visit.
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    Start to list places you have dreamed of going to. This is the best way to choose because you see the places you want to go to, it would be easier for you to decide which place you like most. Keep your list so that you can put a check mark on the place once you've been there. It's like ticking off an entry on your Bucket List.
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    Your personality can dictate which place to go.
    Assess yourself too. You might be meaning to go to Africa but you know you cannot bear the heat. Perhaps you love the beach and water sports adventures. It's easier to decide when you know yourself well. However, you can also plan to go to a certain place that is out of your character. You want to push yourself out of your comfort zone and try different things. All you need to do is to accept the challenge to yourself and think carefully about which adventure you specifically want to try.
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    Budget.
    JanMargery Budget.jpg
    Set a budget to determine how far you can go. But just because you have a little lower budget doesn't mean you can't go to your dream destination. This is what DIY travelling is all about. You can arrange yourself a well-budgeted and affordable trip if only you research and haggle well. If you're short on a budget, then start with local destinations first. Then save for an out of the country tour next year. However if you have already saved a lot for the vacation you've been wanting for so long, then it's fine to go right away to your top dream destination. The important thing is that even if you are on a budget, you should still bring with you a credit card in case of emergency.
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    Season.
    If you are planning to travel during a specific holiday season, you should consider the fact that many other people would certainly be travelling at the same time. If you don't like to be in a situation where you are mostly going to line up for food, amusement rides, or other activities, then go to a place that is less travelled on a holiday. On the other hand, if your purpose of travelling is to feel the season with shopping spree or beach bumming, then go ahead and pick the best location you can spend your holiday in.
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When to go?

After deciding on which place to go, think about when is the best time to go there or when is the best time do you want to travel. The date of travel must be convenient for you and your friends or family, or whomever you're going to travel with. Here are some factors you need to consider when thinking about the perfect date of travelling:

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    Peak season.
    There is a certain peak season for specific travel areas. A tropical country is mostly visited by tourists during summer. People also flock to cold areas during summer, especially when they're country of origin is mostly humid. Here are the advantages and disadvantages when choosing to travel during a peak season.  
    1. Spirit of Festivity. It is expected to see many people on a mostly visited destination, especially when it is peak season. Different races from all over the world are strolling and wandering around the city with you. It's like a festival because you see lots of people sharing the same happiness as yours. You get to celebrate and enjoy the culture around you with so many people.
    2. Sale! Plane tickets are mostly discounted at a great value during peak season. But you have to book ahead. This is why, when planning, you should think when and where you want to go to be able to know when to get promo tickets. Most of the time too, when you visit a place on its peak season, you will see a lot of sales and discounted items around. It's the time of the year where people from the place take advantage of many travellers by offering them good deals on souvenirs.
    3. Too crowded. It's a common knowledge that a tourist destination in its peak season is crowded. If you enjoy being around many people, then it's fine, but there is a huge tendency that you won't enjoy the view and the serenity of the place because all you can see is people. Those who are looking for solitude might not be able to relax in a crowded place. The location also becomes less appealing when the other tourists don't care much about their litter.
    4. Long lines. When there are many people, it's difficult to buy food, a ride ticket or reservations to dinners because of the long queue. It could be stressful. It's a whole lot better when you are on vacation and you can eat whenever you want to without lining up a long queue.
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    Off-Season.
    Choosing to travel in an off-season is a wiser choice to many who want solitude and serenity when on vacation. After all, you want to relax and just enjoy the company of your loved ones. Here are the perks when choosing to travel in an off-season.  
    1. Cheaper accommodations. Hotels and other types of accommodation offer low prices for their rooms during off-season. Since there are less people, they want to attract more customers by lowering their rates. There are times when they give the deluxe room for a price of a standard room.
    2. Less crowd and noise.
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      You can enjoy the beach, the city and the key locations sans the crowd. It's quiet and peaceful but not boring. It's like owning the city and blending with the locals. There is a better opportunity for travelers to find solace. This is great because you want to break your routine. Being in an exquisite place without the noisy crowd is the best way to relax and enjoy.
    3. Easier access to food and activities. When there's not many people in the area, you have a freer time to explore many food at stalls, discover many restaurants and compare them and also pick the activities you want without the long lines and impatient people.
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    Wet Season.
    If you want to go to a destination in an off-season, make sure you do not visit the place during a wet season. You don't want to stroll around the city under a storm. It's not a good feeling because it ruins your outfit and your mood. When you visit a place on a certain date, check first if your planned date is within the rainy season. You can check sites like Best time to visit and best time to go to know when is the perfect time to visit your dream destination.
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    Special Occasion.
    Birthdays, anniversaries, new job promotions and new business ventures are among the good reasons to celebrate and travel. It's like having the time of your life to a far-away place and all you need to do is to seize the moment and feel the special occasion.
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    Just a break.
    Everyone needs a break. You do not necessarily need to wait for any season or a special occasion to treat yourself with a vacation. If you are already experiencing a series of burn-outs then why not plan a vacation with colleagues or with your special someone. travelling is not only for people who can afford to get a leave from their jobs; it's also for anyone who needs a break from his stressful and toxic life.
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Who to travel with?

Another important component when planning a DIY travel itinerary is who you are going to travel with. If you are alone, then it's going to be easier since you will be your own boss. It's easy to plan too if you're travelling with a partner because you will mostly likely have the same interests and plans. But if you are with a group, you need to all be in sync, and many things must be considered. The opinion of each one matters. Here are some suggestions on who you may choose to go with when you travel.

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    Yourself.
    Who says you can't travel alone and enjoy your own company? Most people find it odd to be strolling along the street, enjoying the views and eating alone and depressing idea. But it's not. It's nice to have alone time to because you need to be comfortable with your own self at some point. Many times we become too independent on others so that we forget our own potential. There are even times when we let our happiness depend on one person or other people around us. travelling alone is one way to discover yourself and treat yourself with the good things life can offer. Besides, travelling alone doesn't mean you shouldn't talk to strangers anymore. There's a big chance of meeting awesome friends when you are alone.
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    Special someone or best friend.
    You always have that one best friend who thinks almost the same as you. It's the same with your boyfriend or your girlfriend, you are same-minded people who share so much interest and passion. travelling with a partner is fun to do and exciting to plan too because you customize your travel itinerary based on the things that both of you have agreed on. There will be little to no miscommunication because both of you are very comfortable with each other
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    Family.
    JanMargery FamilyTravel.jpg
    Travelling with a family member or with the whole family is one of the best experiences one can have. They are the closest person that can give you utmost joy just by looking at them having fun. When planning an itinerary with family members, it could take a lot of work because each of you has different opinion. Always consider the pros and cons of the suggestions of each one. It is important that the majority agrees on to something or to some place before settling on a decision. The kids should have a say too because you can't afford to travel to places where you know your kids will only smirk the whole time. They should be satisfied and happy.
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    Colleagues or group of friends.
    The nice thing about travelling with a group of friends of colleagues is that you can save on many aspects �" food, transportation, accommodations, and other tickets too. Sharing will give you such relief. Planning an itinerary though could be a little difficult specially if you have different opinion. Sometimes conflict may even arise and before you know it, the vacation might not even push through. Make sure you only invite people whom you know are not difficult to be with.
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What to do on a trip?

Here is a question that involves a lot of creative thinking. Of course you already know that when you travel, you basically relax, enjoy the views, eat local food, shop, and do a lot of road trips. But given a specific budget, time, number of travellers joining you and the type of destination you plan to go, there should be at least some concrete details of what you should do on your vacation. It is like an outline of what you would like to experience and how you want to experience it. Below are some tips on what you can do when you are travelling:

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    Go Extreme.
    Yes you want to unwind and have peace for at least a couple of day, but think about how much fun you will get when you try something that's out of your comfort zone. There are so many activities that don't involve the typical walking, sightseeing and bargaining. Check your destination's offers for adventure-seeking tourists. Try things such as:  
    1. Sky-Diving.
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      Conquer your fear of heights by experiences that seem like a deadly adventure. The thrill of seeing the whole city from 1,000 feet above is just exhilarating!
    2. Eat exotic food. You cannot say you have fully had a taste of Cambodia's finest food without trying on their famous delicacy, the Thai Zebra Tarantula. How about the Chinese' Bear Claw? Include in your list some food that you must try before leaving that certain destination. The thought of that experience will surely keep you laughing all through the years whenever you remember them. It also creates a little pride because you were able to eat something you're not used to.
    3. Dive with a whale shark. Asian countries such as the Philippines let you swim and dive with a huge whale shark. It's not as dangerous as you think because you have five to six people around to guide you. You may try it with friends and have your photo taken. Hang that surreal photo in your living room at home and you'll see how much you'll reminisce about that one vacation you had.
    4. Ice Climbing. In Canada, there's an activity that's so unique and literally cool. They do it on frozen falls with sheets of ice. But of course you can't do it without the help of professionals. That activity is very risky, but it looks like a majestic frozen falls and you might wonder how it feels like to actually survive climbing on it.
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    Join the locals.
    This doesn't mean joining the locals on the street and shopping along with them. It means going for an in-depth experience of how the locals live. This is perfect for those who are looking for a first-hand unique experience. You might as well look for a guide and live with their family and community for one day and one night. See how it feels like to live with them.  
    1. Cook and eat with the locals. At your destination, particularly in small villages, there are certain deals on travel sites that allow the travellers to live cook certain specialities with the people in that area. They teach and let you learn how to they prepare their food in their own unique way. You will learn so much from them and might as well adopt their unique delicacy by making your own version at home.
    2. Camp away. One way to enjoy the view and other exciting places of the country of town you are visiting is to camp with them and learn so much from how they live. Friendships are built through this form of activity. Spending a night with them in a cool, breezy and comfortable tent while a bonfire is lit outside is such an ideal way to loosen up.
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Practical Tips on Planning a DIY Travel Itinerary

  • When booking a flight, compare airlines ticket rates. Do not settle with an airline that has bad reputation.
  • Book early to avail of promos. Some airlines even offer free seats or no base fare at all.
  • The date and number of days you'll be staying in a destination should be convenient to all of the travellers.
  • When booking for accommodations, check different hotels and compare rates online. Communicate with the manager of the hotel to verify some things. You don't want to be charged hidden taxes!
  • Ask for the standard check-in and check-out time. If you are arriving early, you can have an early check-in and pay for an extra amount or you may leave your things to the reception, stroll around the city, and come back on the official check-in time. Most of the hotels allow travellers to spend an extra hour after their check-out time.
  • For an extended stay, opt for a condo or apartment, especially when travelling with friends or family. This way, you don't have to buy food all the time. It's nice if you can cook your own and try their native delicacies.
  • When touring around the city or villages on foot, you can ask a local to come with you and guide you.
  • You can also tour around using a rented car. Just make sure your phones have GPS or your rental car has.
  • Install smartphone apps that will help you in case of emergency. Free apps like Hostelworld (offers a directory of geo-targeted budget hotels), Hailo (an app that could make a cab in your location come to you) and PinPin ATM Finder (helps you find the nearest ATM machine) are some of the apps that could be of great help.
  • Plan your wardrobe. Wear comfortable and appropriate shoes and clothes.
  • Always bring your passport and Visa with you.
  • Read online forums about travelling. Sites like Tripadvisor, Lonelyplanet, Fodor's, Virtual tourist, Travelblog.org and Travbuddy are very useful for practical tips. Many people share their own experiences and they answer queries too. You can find commendable restaurants, bars, hotels, food and activities, that you can try while you are on your travel destination.
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Categories : Travel & Leisure

Recent edits by: Eng, Lynn, Anonymous

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