Next year I’m heading off to Europe for 5 weeks (so excited!!) It’ll be my first time in Europe and I’ve gone a bit overboard with trip planning! I’ve nearly finished planning everything out so thought I’d do a series on the blog showing how I planned the holiday.
After doing a fair bit of Googling looking at different tools for trip planning and ending up with having a dozen tabs open in my internet browser and flicking between blogs, google maps, tripadvisor, viator etc. I came across Visit a City.
This is not a sponsored post – all opinions are my own.
Visit a City Tool
This has become my all time favorite trip planning tool and my starting point for planning the itinerary for each destination. Not only does it give you suggested itineraries for 1 day, 2 day, 3 etc. right up to 7 days, but it also plots them for you on an interactive map – a huge time saver if you’re a visual person like me!
It has attractions, pricing, example itineraries, temperature throughout the year for each destination, you can filter attractions by suggested time to spend at each etc.
To enlarge the screen of the video, click the square icon in the bottom right hand corner of the video (it will say ‘full screen’ when you hover your mouse over the icon).
Some of the reasons I love this tool:
- Example itineraries
- Suggested time it will take at each attraction
- How to get between attractions and how long it’ll take via walking, train, taxi etc.
- Popular attractions
- If the city has an attractions pass e.g. Paris Pass
- Pre-plots the locations on the map
- Clusters attractions together so you don’t have to work out the best order to save time – it does it for you <3
- Comes with pre-built itineraries for popular cities
- Can print the map and take it with you
- Also has an app
- Destinations and attractions have a review rating and a bit about each location so you can decide if you want to go see / do it
- Clicking on an attraction will take you straight to tours you can book to go and visit it as well as ratings
- Can filter each of the activities by outdoor, price, rating, walking tours, nightlife etc. so you can cut out all the attractions that don’t appeal to you
- Pictures of each attraction – I tend to see a place and decide I want to go there based on how pretty it is!
- Map of where the destination is and the surrounding areas which is helpful for planning day trips
One thing to note is that the tool doesn’t have remote destinations so if you’re going off the beaten track it may not be on their website.
Using Visit a City
My first stop is to see what attractions are at the destination. I’m not interested in wine & nightlife, luxury tours etc. so I can filter those out. You can also filter by price. And it tells you what the most popular destinations are and how much it’ll cost so you can start creating your budget.
Next I go to the itineraries tool. For each city they give you a variety of itineraries to suit your travel style. I always go for the ‘landmarks / attractions’ or the ‘packed itinerary’
The tool creates an itinerary for you including where you should start, how long it tends to take people to see each attraction, how to get to the next one, via what method and how long it’ll take you. It plots the route in a logical, time-efficient format <3
You can also delete places that don’t appeal to you, add others to the map, change the order if you want to be at a specific destination at a certain time of day for taking photos in the best light, add in a break for lunch, switch attractions between days etc.!
I’m a visual person so I really like the built in map that plots the attractions for you – you can zoom right in on the city, or zoom out and see what’s close by which is very handy for planning day trips. The site does also give suggested day trips and links to Viator where you can go book organized tours if you won’t have a car and don’t want to use public transport to get there.
After I use Visit a City, I then copy everything into my printable travel planner. Why? I’m a bit OCD when it comes to how itineraries are set out. I like to plan things in a certain format. I like to have what we need to be doing and when and adding in detailed directions. I go so far as to ‘walk’ it out using Google maps and put ‘left turn at xx street, walk 10 min, right turn at xx street, building on the left side of the street’. I’m hopeless with directions so have to be super detailed otherwise I get lost!
I also like to put notes and reminders in my travel planner for things like confirming tours, summaries of all the hotel info so I don’t have to lug a massive stack of paper around, a currency cheat sheet (e.g. pictures of coins and how much they’re worth) etc.
I print out my itinerary so that if my phone battery dies, or there’s no phone reception, I shouldn’t get too hopelessly lost (although I do still fear I may get on the wrong train in end up in another country at some point on the trip!). I use the ‘2 per page’ setting in my printer menu to create A5 / half size pages so it takes up less room and less paper = less weight. I shared a tutorial on how to do this in this post: printing tips
I don’t want to waste time faffing about while on holidays, glued to my phone screen stressing about whether I’m going in the wrong direction or wasting time looking at what places are nearby. I like to have everything planned, down to the very last detail before I go so I can actually enjoy the holiday.
Some people have told me the way I plan everything takes the ‘fun’ out of travel. But you know what wouldn’t be fun? Not getting to see things you really wanted to see because you didn’t plan it properly. Spending a ton of money on a trip and then wasting half of it trying to figure out how to get from A to B. Wasting time standing in queues because you didn’t look up the best time to visit an attraction. Going to an attraction on a day that’s it’s closed or just before closing and having to rush to see it. Realizing after you got back from your trip that you didn’t go somewhere because you didn’t know it existed because you didn’t do proper research.
That is why I plan the entire trip before I go!
As for what’s on the itinerary for my Europe trip? You’ll just have to wait and see! 🙂