Our Italy itinerary is only yet to start…
The other day I posted a travel itinerary I made for Kevin and I when we were headed to Palm Springs for 3 days, showcasing what a nut I am and how insanely organized the itinerary was- down to times upon arrival, locations, and times spent at each location. I jam-packed our 3 days so precisely that I had pee stops scheduled…. Okay, not really but you get the point. I was organized AF. In sharing this I received many messages about sharing more on how I plan for these trips, what tools I use to put together the itinerary, and how I stay organized. I honestly thought I was a pain in the ass with this stuff but that’s just truly how I like to travel. And apparently I’m not alone! So here’s the gyst…
Some people had asked me what app I use to make my itineraries: I make all my itineraries in Photoshop. The aesthetics and visuals I put into it are just for me really but it gets me excited every time I look at it!
When I plan a trip I take up to a month putting together an itinerary. Especially when I’m traveling somewhere new. I research, review, plan, schedule, so much so that the locals can ask me where to go and I’ll know. Normally, I avoid sites like travel.usnews.com, travelandleisure.com and other larger blogs for my information. More often than not these sites aren’t accurate, and sometimes they’re paid to post about certain hotels, locations, etc, which makes me feel like they’re not authentic. For example, upon researching for my Italy itinerary, I recently read on travel.usnews.com about how the best time to visit Italy is in May or September because the weather isn’t blazing hot and it’s not quite “peak” season yet suggesting hotels and accommodation are slightly cheaper. This is incorrect. Peak season begins in May and ends the last week of September so hotels and accommodation are at an all time high- in fact, these months are arguably more popular to visit because the weather is so prime. Bottom line, don’t believe everything you read. I also avoid websites like mrandmrssmith.com for my hotel stays, although they specialize in this topic [I found tons on their Italy travel blog section] the thing is, one, they are likely sponsored for these hotels, and two, they’re all 5 star hotels and, unfortunately, my money tree in the backyard hasn’t sprouted yet so moving on.
Photo found via Pinterest
Before anything else [aside from booking the flights] I’ll start with accommodation. I’ll research the best areas to stay at and then I’ll check out hotels around that area. My favorite hotels are always boutique hotels- if possible, I’ll only stay at boutique hotels when traveling. I use booking.com for all my hotel stays and tripadvisor.com for the reviews on said hotels- I love Trip Advisor because they have an option to show only “traveller” photos rather than the spruced up hotel edited photos so you can get a really accurate picture as to what the hotel actually looks like. You’d be surprised how sneaky hotels can make a room look online! PS. None of this is sponsored [although, honestly, I wish it was cause that would be amazing]! Typically, I spend roughly 3 hours looking for a hotel at each location I stay at. That’s how long it takes me to get an accurate depiction of all hotels within the area, reviews, and cost comparisons. This Italy itinerary is going to take me months to plan even though we’re only there for 10 days. So far, the roughest part was having to narrow down each place we are going to visit. If it were up to me I’d want to visit every last nook and cranny of Italy but we don’t have the time… or the funds.
Next, I’ll research things to do/ places to visit. I’ll check out blogs, travel websites, etc for a list of the major sights to see and top places to visit in Italy, but I’ll also go on Instagram and check out tags within that location for some lesser known, under the radar, spots. Even though we only have 10 days in Italy, I’ll make sure to jam-pack them with fun things that Kevin and I both enjoy. Since we’re not headed to Italy until September, I have tons of time and haven’t really even started on my Italy itinerary yet other than reviewing and comparing hotels. Since my job has lots to do with photos, I’ll always try to scope out aesthetic spots that will look nice for my Instagram. I always keep this in mind when traveling.
For food, I like hitting up the local grocery stores for snacks, wine, and “packable” food. I did this when we went to LA and we saved more than you’d think by just going to Whole Foods. When I’m budgeting [and let’s be honest here, who doesn’t need to budget when they travel] I’m a person who prefers to spend my money on nicer hotels, spas, experiences rather than food. Of course, I’ll always spot out areas for the great food but I’ll skip a nice dinner one night and hit up the grocery store instead in exchange for an afternoon boat tour. And I’ll always try to eat where the locals do- typically it’s cheaper and the food is incredible. Of course, one of the main attractions in Italy is the food *DUH* but saving on a bottle of wine at a restaurant and, instead, opting for a bottle of wine from the grocery store is alright by me. I’ll also do lots of my digging for good food on Instagram. So many Instagram foodies out there- it’s easy to find great places.
One final note, never underestimate the power of word of mouth. I have friends in London who often travel to Italy for the summer months and asking them for recommendations is a must. Especially the people who have been, and have the same interests as you.
How do you plan for trips? Was this Italy itinerary planning helpful?