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How To Write a High-Quality Travel Itinerary

The Goal

The first question to ask before writing--what is the goal of the itinerary?

The goal for all itineraries on Unanchor is the following:

  • The user of the travel itinerary will be able to travel to the destination and get around using only this itinerary. After finding this itinerary, they can finally stop researching!

A good itinerary will be unambiguous

When giving directions to a location, help the traveler find it easily by:

  • Providing the names of bus stops, subways stops, tourist sites, and street names in the local language (written and then romanized as well)
  • Providing all possible bus numbers when applicable. Include which side of the street they should be standing on.
  • Use landmarks to help the traveler know they’re going in the right or wrong direction. Example: If you pass a 7-Eleven, you’ve gone the wrong way, but if you pass a Dunkin’ Donuts, you’re on the right track.
  • When getting off subways, which exit should they use and which direction should they immediately turn after leaving the subway exit?
  • Provide maps. Do a Google Image search for the city or use Google Maps. Using a program like Windows Paint you can even trace the route on a map.

Provide links to resources where the traveler can dive into more detail

It’s good to put things in perspective and provide a brief summary of the sites and the cities that the traveler will see. But, don’t bloat the itinerary with too much information, try to keep to the essentials. Instead, provide a link where the traveler can dive further into the information. Wikipedia and Wikitravel are great links to provide.

You’re the expert, prioritize the list of tourist sites for them

It’s extremely frustrating reading one-paragraph descriptions of tourist sites and then have to choose what to do. You’re the expert on the destination, take a stand and prioritize the list for them.

Give them a specific list of sites that they must go to if they only have one day, another list if two days. Don’t be worried about recommending a site and having the traveler be disappointed about missing a site. You’re choosing between a really awesome site and perhaps just awesome. Either way, the traveler is going to have a good day.

Restaurants & Nightlife

Most travelers want to try the local food. Again, give them recommendations!

Tip: If there are helpful websites that provide honest reviews of restaurants, make sure to provide this link. An example: Yelp.com for many cities in the United States.

Another example broken down by price range.

Meals for under $10 per person:
Name: John’s Restaurant
Type of food: Really good local Indian food.
Recommended dish: The red curry
Directions to get there: Take bus 104 from get off at…

Name: Jim’s Restaurant…

Meals for under $25 per person:
Name: …

Meals for under $50 per person:
Name: …

Other Information

  • Are there scams specific to the city the traveler should know about?
  • Unique customs?
  • Can you drink the water?
  • How much do things cost? What if you buy food from a grocery store

Tip: There are online resources to help you figure out how much things cost. Check out BudgetYourTrip.com for example.

Itinerary Writing Summary - DOs & DON’Ts

  • Do provide a brief summary of the city(s)/country and the sights.
  • Do provide links for additional information about the city, country, sights, restaurants, hotels.
  • Do provide as many relevant maps as possible.
  • Do provide names and places written in the local language.
  • Do provide unique information about the destination (Ex: scams and customs)
  • Don’t leave directions ambiguous. There are lots of distractions when coming into a new city, so be as specific as possible.
  • Don’t forget about restaurant recommendations

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