The Rise of DIY Travel Itineraries: How to Plan Like a Pro

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Thalys Train at Gare Du Nord

Welcome to the world of DIY Travel – who needs an agent when you’ve got the internet at your fingertips? It can be time-consuming to plan your trip, but it’s rewarding and ensures that your trip hits all of your expectations.

When you take the reins of planning your next upcoming trip, you’re in complete control. An abundance of itinerary templates are out there to help keep you on track, too.

Many programs and apps have two versions: the basic free package and a paid upgrade. If you travel often or are looking for specific features, springing for a paid version may be worth it. Personally, Google Drive works just fine for me!

You’ll have to spend quite some time deciding your destination, budget, what to pack, and what you want to see. You’ll also want to consider nitty-gritty travel details like restaurants, hotel addresses, flight numbers, attractions you want to visit, local transportation information, and emergency contacts.

Thanks to the internet, you can create DIY travel itineraries with just a few clicks. Many programs and apps offer travel itinerary templates at your disposal.

Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time adventurer, take advantage of the tools available for trip planning. Plenty of customizable templates are available to help you and keep everyone you’re traveling with on the same page.

Before embarking on your next adventure, have a paper copy of your trip itinerary since Wi-fi is not always guaranteed. A cheap zippered folder off Amazon is a great way to keep your travel plan in one place.

Imagine holding up the line at the airport because you can’t access your flight information…like I have. Get the folder. Avoid the hassle and embarrassment…like I suffered. Also, always leave some room for flexibility in case of unexpected changes.

Travel Planning in 2024 – Agent, or AI?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has taken the travel world by storm. There are dozens of new tools to help you plan your travel, and DIY travel is becoming almost as fully-featured as using an agent. Sure, it will take a little bit of know-how and a certain comfort level with travel, but you can now use so many amazing new tools to help you plan your trip.

In certain cases, it may still be best to go with an agent. If you have a large group traveling, an agent may be best suited to help coordinate everyone’s travel plans. If want to experience something out of your comfort zone or a particularly high risk activity, an agent can help you vet the vendors and ensure you have the correct travel insurance in place.

Leveraging Artificial Intelligence for Travel Planning

If you’re planning a more ordinary trip, though, you can easily use online tools to make your life easier. A word of warning, though: just typing some questions into Chat GPT or generators that rely solely on GPT is likely to give you outdated and inaccurate results.

For example, I recently asked GPT for some information about restaurants in Scottsdale, and found that three of the five recommendations were either closed, or poorly reviewed. One wasn’t even in Scottsdale!

It’s important to know how to leverage AI for travel planning in a way that helps you gather accurate and useful information quickly. We’ve been working on a solution here at ViaTravelers for the last few months, and have created an incredible travel itinerary planning tool that you’ve got to try out.

Unlike many itinerary generators that rely solely on AI language models, we’ve created a framework based entirely on our own articles and experiences. It’s human-curated content, delivered to you utilizing ease and structure afforded by some AI tools.

Take a look at how you can get a jump-start on planning your next trip using the ViaTravelers Planning Tool, which you can find here.

You’ll also find the travel planning tool on every one of our articles. Just scroll up or down until you see it, and choose your destination:

ViaTravelers Itinerary Generator Destination Picker

Then, answer a few questions about your trip’s timing, who you’re traveling with, and your budget:

ViaTravelers DIY Travel Itinerary Generator timing of trip

Finally, let us know what you’d like to do during your travels:

ViaTravelers DIY Travel Itinerary Generator activities to choose from

And soon enough, you’ll have a custom itinerary with hand-curated suggestions delivered right to your inbox!

Italy itinerary generated by ViaTravelers

Like we said above, though DIY travel isn’t for everyone. Your vacation is an investment of time and money, so before you decide how you plan it, consider the benefits and drawbacks of doing it on your own.

Pros and Cons of DIY Travel Itineraries

Event planner timetable agenda plan on organize schedule event
tippapatt / Adobe Stock

As with anything in life, there’s always the good and the bad.

Pros

  • All the decisions are in your hands
  • You can shop around and compare prices
  • Budget-friendly
  • Allows for flexible schedule and freedom
  • Access to tons of paid and free itinerary templates

Cons

  • Planning and researching can be time-consuming
  • If things go south (and not the warm, sunny kind either), you’re held responsible
  • No professional guidance
  • You need to have a credit card

See Related: Why Traveling is Important

What To Include in Your Travel Itinerary

Bucket List on a notebook
Lemau Studio / Adobe Stock

A personalized itinerary will help you stay organized while you enjoy your trip. There are a few basic elements and important details essential to include on your travel itinerary. After figuring out your travel plan, find a free itinerary template that best suits your needs, and get excited for your next trip.

Choose Your Destination

Remember those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books? Now, you can experience it in real time! There are endless destinations to choose from. The destination will ultimately depend on what you’re looking to get out of your next trip.

Are you having your next meeting on a business trip, preparing for a family vacation, or focusing on a jam-packed road trip? Make sure the destination is appropriate, as there aren’t too many business trips happening in Ibiza, for example.

Budget

Other than the destination, budget is super important. It wouldn’t be wise to organize a luxury vacation when you can’t afford one night at the hotel. If you’re worried about staying on track financially, there are a lot of budget planners you can add to your trip itinerary template.

Packing List

Itinerary templates aren’t just a mundane travel schedule. Many itinerary templates are available to organize your daily tasks and to-do lists.

You don’t want to be stuck in a remote area only to find out you forgot your toothbrush. Add a list of things to bring to your trip itinerary. It’ll save you an unnecessary vacation expense.

Sightseeing and Planned Activities

If you’re planning an adventurous journey, you’ll want to create a larger trip itinerary template to fill in your activities and stops. On the contrary, if you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway, your vacation itinerary will be smaller.

Find a trip itinerary template that suits what you plan to get out of your adventure. I highly recommend Roadtrippers.com if you’re looking to create a road trip itinerary. Roadtrippers will help you build a travel itinerary and find amazing spots and hidden gems along your journey.

Under the activities section on your travel itinerary template, you’ll want to note everything you’d like to see and do, as well as how long you plan to stay at each activity. You can even include the cost of everything to stay on budget.

See Related: Incredible Bucket List Ideas

Dining Options

If you’re staying at an all-inclusive, you can skip this section on your vacation itinerary since you won’t have to think twice about hunting down your next meal. Dining is another important section to add to your travel itinerary template for a less stressful vacation.

I love scouring Reddit for local insider tips. You can also use Google to check reviews or ask the front desk where you’re staying for hotspots. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, HappyCow is an incredible resource for finding dining while on vacation.

There are lots of itinerary templates where you can add dining options. You can even create a daily itinerary based on specific restaurants near the activities you plan to do each day.

Accommodations

Adding accommodations to your travel itinerary template is crucial. You’ll want to include everything from your hotel reservations, contact information, and booking confirmation.

Again, Wi-fi may not always be available, or maybe your flight was so long that your phone ended up dying. Whatever the case, having a copy of critical information on your vacation itinerary is always good.

See Related: Top Hotel Booking Sites to Save on Stays

Transportation

If you’re using public transportation at some point during your journey, keep records on your travel itinerary template for easy access. You’ll want to have the bus routes, taxi numbers, train schedules, or even tickets. If you’re renting a car, you’ll want to note the booking information on your travel itinerary template.

Contact Details

This is another critical item to add to your travel itinerary template. Add numbers of friends or family to notify them in case of an emergency. You may also want to include the contact information of each country’s embassy or consulate on your trip itinerary.

Flight Info and Other Travel Info

The type of travel itinerary template you choose will depend if you travel by plane, train, or car. Take note of your departure times, arrival times, and flight numbers if going by plane.

If you’re planning on going on a road trip, you’ll want to have all your destinations laid out. Your road trip itinerary should include gas stations, rest stops, hotels, and any sights or activities. A paper map is also helpful if Google Maps decides to stop working.

Free Travel Itinerary Templates

Airplanes in Ronald Reagan Airport
Steve / Adobe Stock

We’ve talked about our in-house intierary generator, which is a huge project that we’re always updated and improving. However, if you’re visiting a place that we haven’t covered in-depth, you’re on your own! We aren’t going to generate a bunch of information and send it out without experiencing it ourselves, first.

So, in that case, what’s the best way to organize your trip? There are tons of travel itinerary templates out there just waiting to be filled with all the necessary details. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Wanderlog

Wanderlog Itinerary in Wanderlog App
Wanderlog / Wanderlog

For creating itineraries on iOS and Android, check out Wanderlog. The free app has received thousands of stellar reviews from travelers worldwide, and many say it’s one of the best trip planners.

Wanderlog allows you to keep all the details in one place, even if you’re offline. Simply download the app to your mobile device and start building your travel itinerary.

Wanderlog has an endless amount of attractive features. The app allows collaborative editing so everyone in your group is on the same page.

Save time by importing flight and hotel information with just a click. Create a packing list and to-do list, and keep track of your budget and split costs with your party.

2. TripIt

TripIt mobile app choices
TripIt / TripIt

If you’re heading on a business trip, TripIt is phenomenal for creating a business travel itinerary.

With TripIt, your business travel itinerary is all in one place. The sharing options allow you to see everyone’s schedule and calendar so your coworkers are on the same page. Trying to stay on budget during your business trip? The app has expense tracking. You can access your business travel itinerary either online or offline.

TripIt wants your business trip to be hassle-free. The app syncs to your email to pull the details and will organize it on your travel itinerary template. You can also forward confirmation emails to your TripIt account, and the app will input everything.

3. Canva

Canva Itinerary Templates
Canva / Canva

If you want something that’s simple, basic, and user-friendly, Canva is a nice choice. Use Canva on the desktop or your cell phone. After creating an account, search for “trip itinerary template” or “travel itinerary template” in the search bar.

Choose a template to your liking, and you can begin to create your travel itinerary. What I love best about Canva is the itinerary templates offer tons of design flexibility.

Canva boasts a huge variety of free itinerary templates. Are you looking for a daily itinerary, road trip itinerary, or meeting itinerary template for your next business trip? The app has it all!

Canva also allows you to collaborate with other users so no one is left behind. The possibilities are endless, and you can easily create a trip itinerary with just a few clicks.

4. Adobe Express

Adobe Express Itinerary Templates
Adobe Express / Adobe Express

Adobe Express is another great program for creating a basic trip itinerary template that’s visually appealing. It’s similar to Canva and available for iOS, Android, and desktop.

It’s user-friendly, and you can customize your travel itinerary template to the max with different fonts, graphics, colors, and backgrounds. Adobe Express guarantees you’ll have a stunning and well-organized travel itinerary with its many features.

Adobe Express is a great team member for your next business trip. Collaborate with others, create the perfect travel itinerary, and design a meeting itinerary template with a few clicks.

5. ClickUp

Itinerary sample in ClickUp
ClickUp / ClickUp

If you’re looking for a free travel itinerary template you can download and fill out, check out ClickUp. We actually use ClickUp for a bunch of stuff at VT, from trip planning to mapping out our content calendar!

Some itineraries are available through familiar programs like Google Docs, Microsoft Excel, and Word. There are quite a few itinerary templates to choose from to keep you organized during your trip. ClickUp allows you to keep everything in one place and collaborate with others on your trip.

ClickUp has some drawbacks. The learning curve is pretty steep (check out AskYvi for tips on how to make the most of it), and there are only a small number of templates available, so what you see is what you get. There isn’t much option for cute customization either.

6. Visme

Visme Itinerary Templates
Visme / Visme

Visme is similar to Canva and Adobe Stock. If you prefer to let your creative juices flow, you might want to try Visme to create your travel itinerary template. Browse a selection of beautiful itineraries just waiting to be filled.

From camping to hiking and even a full month itinerary, there’s something for everyone. If you want a travel itinerary that’s flashy, fun, and aesthetic, you’ll love Visme. Personalize it with your own fonts, colors, backgrounds, and details.

Visme does have it’s drawbacks. Users can’t collaborate with each other, which is difficult for group travelers. The free version is also restrictive, so you’re better off paying to get more features.

Related Resources

Lisa Merten
WRITTEN BY

Lisa Merten

Since both of her parents are German immigrants, Lisa grew up with a lot of German culture. In fact, she’s more familiar with German traditions as opposed to the North American way of life. Growing up, she was fortunate enough to spend many summers in Germany with her family and she is fluent in German. Lisa is also quite the expert on Caribbean cruises, and has been to almost every island. She was also fortunate enough to work at a travel agency for almost 2 years to learn some of the ropes of the industry, and she's happy to share her experiences, tips, and travel hacks with her readers.

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