So how do you plan for your travel? Or more importantly how do you decide where to go?
You have a bucket list you say?! Most travellers (frequent, occasional or armchair) have it. The problem starts when you open it. Cos it’s a list. Of random places. We also have one. And it wasn’t a problem for us. Why? Cos we structured it.
Here’s how our list is structured; Continents –> Regions –> Distance from a major city. Then we have in a separate column what’s the speciality of that place; Adventure, Romance, Archaeology, etc. Too much?
We had decided early on that we will travel international, for two weeks, but keep the travel time to a minimum. So when “I” looked at this list (Honeymoon is supposed to be a surprise trip for the wifey right?!), I instantly knew it was “Greece and Turkey”!
Three places in the list could be covered in a single trip; Santorini, Pamukkale and Cappadocia. We plotted them on Rome2Rio together with the national capital (or the city you have a lot of flights to) and we instantly had a rough itinerary! How fast is that?! We also had the option to put in dates which then gave us hotel prices, flight fare and other prices for other transportation options together with travel time and cost between cities and in total. Pretty nifty huh!
I believe building the itinerary is THE most time-consuming and frustratingly confusing task of all. Not only do you have to make sure you get cheap flights but you also have to determine correct onwards connections, align the arrival/departures to suit your hotel check-in and check-out timings and maximize time spent in each place. It took us four attempts to arrive at the correct itinerary for our trip!
We added Athens and Istanbul to this list cos that’s where we’ll be flying into and out of. But we did toy with the idea of spending a night in Bodrum (primarily because of the erratic ferry schedules from Greece to Turkey), Izmir and Paros/Naxos. Temptations, temptations. Don’t we want to see everything in one trip! The trick here is to stick to the travel conditions, which for us were to keep total travel time as short as possible and not to extend the trip beyond two weeks.
By now, not only did we have our trip “charted” and “timed”, but also had direct pointers on how to travel between cities. For e.g. how many ferries run between Mykonos and Santorini on say, Wednesday and at what time (just click on the blocks on the left). And we just built up on that. Greek Travel Pages gives you all the ferries operating on your chosen route on the date specified. You cannot book from here though.
Booking a ferry beforehand is usually a good idea. Book directly with the ferry company will save you the commission. Also, the schedules published tend to be accurate and if you book way in advance, chances are you will get big discounts. You can collect the tickets from the authorized agency at the port. Cancellations are allowed up until 14 days before the journey date.
For places we needed a bus to get to, Turkey Travel Planner gives a reliable list of bus companies. The site is regularly updated so the details are pretty accurate. Also, no need to book in advance if travelling outside the tourist season. We didn’t either. But may reconsider booking about a week or two before our actual journey.
I have purposely not written about hunting for cheap airfare. There are literally hundreds of sites that have detailed articles. I personally use Skyscanner. For multi city itinerary I prefer Matrix (it has been acquired by Google and Google flight search uses this algorithm).
That’s it for now. See you all next week. And please do comment your experiences on building up an itinerary. And sticking to it!