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8. SIT Itinerary: (full)

A. Definition:
An itinerary is a travel document recording a ‘simple’ route or journey.

Initially, I relied on a stripped down heavily highlighted Rick Steves or Lonely Planet guidebook &/or a simple list of my cities, sites and experiences I hoped to visit.

BUT, the more I SIT (solo independent travel) traveled the more, I realized I was a foolishly inefficient & unwise traveler because I was wasting time, missing sites, getting confused because …:
     1. I did not allocate enough travel & on-site time, 

    2. I did not allot free, flexible time for of unforeseen opportunities, 

    3. I wasted valuable ACTUAL travel time hunting train & bus schedules while trying to actually travel, 

    4. I unnecessarily retraced my earlier routes to get to those sites I had inadvertently missed the 1st time. 

    5. I dragging my bag around town looking for a vacant hostel dorm bed.

In sum, think of my SIT Travel Itinerary as my Personal Guidebook for each country & city I will visit, super condensed to include only the important information I need to easily execute my 2 to 3 month trip’s plans smoothly … without missing anything

During each trip I discovered more defects & info gaps in my ‘simple’ itinerary which I then corrected for next trip, …. evolving subsequent Itineraries into more detailed, complete, accurate & useful. Evolving with my increasing experience.

My itinerary was NOT an inflexible anchor holding me back, as some might think, rather, it ensured I easily & efficiently saw & did all I had planned without wasting actual travel time. At my age, I only have time to visit each country once because too many other countries to visit.

B. Travel Itinerary Usefulness:
My detailed Travel Itinerary was useful for several reasons:
     1. I traveled more easily & confidently, less anxious, because I had a Plan.   I knew what to do, where to go & when. I knew what to expect.

    2. more available travel time because:
        a) less wasted unnecessary route duplication

        b) less ‘on-the-fly’ wasted time researching trans~, hostels & sites.

        c) easier to alter or fix with ‘unforeseenitinerary changes or mistakes.

        d) less likely to ‘miss’ a desired site or experience.

While many may dislike my itineraries because, too obsessively detailed AND not flexible, … it is important to realize : 
    1. this itinerary’s format & detail evolved over 20 years of foreign 1> 3-month travel trips.

    2. each itinerary item has built-in flexible time: a) 1 free day for every 7 travel days, & b) intentionally excessive estimated on-site time.  

At worst, you can tone down my Travel Itinerary structure to fit your travel style.

C. Itinerary’s Organizational Structure:
SITs (I quote from above) “SITs have maximum freedom/flexibility to design their most ideal mixed itinerary of countries, cities, sites &  ranging from the major to remote or obscure.”

While I've learned that my best laid plans often times fall apart as soon as the plane lands. OTOH because I research & confirm everything I have often anticipated issues and glitches in advance and have alternatives in mind.

My Standard Itinerary Outline Structure:
   Each city of my itinerary includes 4 main sections: 
    1. TRANS: transportation in and out,  [jlk:    ]

    2. ACCM: accommodation/lodging     [jlk:    ]

    3. FOOD:                                              [jlk:    ]

    4. Sites & Experiences or TODOs:     [jlk:    ]

My standard ‘personal itinerary’ outline structure for each city I will visit contains basic info AND any peculiarities my research may have uncovered. 

         Anecdote: On a train ride somewhere, mid-journey the train stops without any apparent notice & disconnects several train cars then continues on. Shortly afterward, a 2nd train attaches to the ‘disconnected cars’ and proceeds in a different direction. 

Seats were not reserved.  You HAD TO KNOW which cars were going your way, otherwise you would unexpectedly end up somewhere else. Somewhere in research, I learned this ‘fact’ & put it in my itinerary.    
Too much fun, eh? 😐 

    1. TRANS synopsis:  Please see: [jlk:    ] for in-depth
        a. International Arrival:
USA to Host Country Flight Info & b) Special Notes [jlk; Safe:Airport]

        b. Airport to Hostel transportation: [jlk; Safe:Airport]
Airport >City options: Airport light rail, Airport Shuttle, Uber, tuk tuk, (limo 😃); often depends on city size.

I make different choices based on time of arrival, speed, price, safety.  I will  pre-book or arrange ONLY if there is some compelling reason.

         Anecdote: Quito, Ecuador’s very (2;30am) early morning arrival in a huge confusing city of steep hills & winding roads.                                             

       c. Local City transportation: [pplk; Safe:City/Country]
Light rail, buses, Ubers, tuk-tuks, motorcycle taxis; often depends on city size.   I make different choices based on time of arrival, speed, price, safety & site location.

TIP: I often take Uber to farthest site away from hostel on my day’s walkabout or walking tour & spend day walkabout-ing back to hostel. very time efficient; see/do more.

      d. Long Distance transportation:  city>city, OVN & multi-nite side trips, etc. [pplk; Safe:City/Country]
           1. Long distance rail & bus, Uber (?), motorcycle, scooter or bike rentals 

           2. New city’s transportation: into & out of: [jlk; lodging ???]

           3. Unless direct city to city, several different travel kinds

          Anecdote: Laos: several 3 day OVN (overnight) Laos solo motorcycle loops in N Laos back country to see seldom visited temples. ???

     2. ACCM (accommodation/hostels):  [jlk; lodging]
          a. International Arrival: 
When USA to 1st host country:  I always pre-book 1st 1 > 3 nights to reduce international arrival, anxiety, hassle and to easily acclimate.

        b. On going cities hostels:
            (1) Key pre-booked hostel info: confirmation number, address, phone number, and contact info, if any any. 

            (2) List 3>4 additional hostels that I have screened & with contact info in case I choose to change hostels. 

           Anecdote: Tallinn, Estonia:  My 1st Tallinn ratty-hostel included a nightly live rock music bar which made early sleep nearly impossible. I moved the next day to a superb hostel (Wait for it!) … for the same price.

 [ytlk: Estonia, Tallinn]

     TIP: Store hostel’s Google Map’s pinpoint location & address/phone in cell phone,.


    3. FOOD: 
Not a foody, so a good menu item at a comfortable, authentic, non-tourist, local restaurant near hostel is my ideal. 😄 

Occasionally I note an unusual cultural menu item that culturally intrigues me. I am not a foody.

    Anecdote: Hiroshoma’s Okonomiaki: A grilled pancake from Edo period (1683- 1868) Buddhist ceremonies. 
Hiroshima’s okonomiyaki style was popularized after the atomicbombing when food was scarce. [ytlk; Hiroshioma]] 

OTOH, if you are passionate about foreign food, scour the most recent guidebook and ask hostel, staff, and locals.

    4. SITEs & ToDOs: Usually longest section

Lists all sites & experiences by city’s neighborhood or by Self Walking Tour’s most efficient sequence. Exactly like your UPS, FedEx or Google or Amazon driver does.
        A. Each site includes:   
            1) address/contact, & directions, 

            2) estimated on-site time for each site in ¼ hour chunks (¼h, 1¾h) 
                  Helps me construct my daily self walking tours/walkabouts.

            3) Any other relevant or confusing info" hours, directions, ACTUAL passport req'd, no video, etc.  

           Anecdote: Rick Steves’ GB ‘Krakow’ tip: Horse tie ring on the main square’s Cathedral Kosciol Mariacki. 

     TIP: Store hostel’s Google Map’s pinpoint location & address/phone in cell phone,.


       B. Time Allocation:
At home, ‘time’ sometimes seems flexibly unlimited. If I don’t do it today. I'll do it tomorrow. Usually no bad consequences. 

In contrast, foreign travel is for a definite, limited time; you leave home and then return. What you failed to get done while traveling does not get done. What you didn’t see, you may never see.

My SIT goal has always been to fully explore each travel bud while detouring whenever an ‘unforeseen’ opportunity pops up. I wanted the option to linger at a site, if warranted, or move on quickly, if not. 

In my early travels, I often realized I had either had too little or too much time for an individual site or activity, resulting in either wasted time or ‘missed’ sites.

So I started trying to estimate or guess how much time it would typically take to travel to & visit each site based on logic & my experience. I was purposely ‘overgenerous with time estimates.  My ‘worst outcome’ was extra time to see/do more.

These loose estimates helped me construct my daily walking tours or walkabouts. If too much time was allotted, I moved on to next site with extra time. If too little time, I keep exploring because plenty of excess time is built in.      

I might stop for just moments at a simple statue en route to a cathedral, while a cathedral might consume 1hr or more depending upon the size and its interest value.

For example, [ytlk: EC/GI: ] On Santa Cruz Island in the
Galapagos islands, I might allocate 1/2 hour to visit a small seaside Fish Market for only ¼hr, which leaves an extra ¼ hr.

I can add that ¼ hr to my 1½ hr visit to Charles Darwin Research Center.

If my El Chato Tortoise Reserve visit lasts too long I’ll simply eat dinner late. … and so on. 


        C. Site Scheduling:
Also, If I visit sites in random order, I waste TRANs time & money wandering back & forth over earlier routes. So eventually, I began mapping sites into a sequential stream one after the other …. just like UPS & FedEx.

All sites were combined with others into a chain of daily visits just like FedEx, UPS, etc.

In my 60s & 70s I didn’t have the luxury of future decades to re-visit MISSED sites & experiences.   “so many countries, so little time.”  I must be thorough.

        D. Unforeseen opportunity Strategies:
My trips ranged from 1 to 3 months. My goal was to see/do everything I planned plus the inevitable unforeseen opportunities

Unanticipated Travel Bud opportunities suddenly materialize like Easter Eggs when traveling in a foreign culture: look down an alley at a small church, a local veggie market, an Indian cow blocking a narrow alley, a Myanmar monk’s procession, etc.  Opportunities that will tug at your curiosity.

I didn't want a schedule so tight that I’d be forced to pass up Travel Bud site or experiences, so, I scheduled 1 free day for every 7 travel days.

Ironically, I usually used most of a free day for more travel.

         Anecdote: Tangiers, Morocco unplanned side trip: after 36 days, trekking Camino de Santiago in northern Spain, I began 1½ months PIK: K6 Tangiers. thru Portugal & S Spain. In Madrid, I realized I was too far ahead of my itinerary, so I booked a train to southwest Spain, & took a boat to Tangiers, Morocco for three days, then, returned to Madri to continue on.[ytlk: Spain.  ]

         Anecdote: Guyaju Cave village & Jackson Hole
WY: Guyaju Cave village is carved into a mountain on Beijing’s far outskirts. I allocated ¾ day for 2 confused bus rides out & return plus an estimated 1 hr on site. [ytlk: China.]

Ironically, walking from the last bus to the village, I surprisingly encountered a major high-end Chinese residential subdivision, named and styled after my hometown Jackson, Wyoming. [ytlk: China: JHole].

I spent more than an  EXTRA hour and a half visiting and being driven around this subdivision that I had not anticipated.

My SIT’s organized & flexibile time allocation made each day fulfilling, SIT traveler experience. [pplk: Resource: ITIN example]

After a trip, I often estimated my itinerary completion rate at about 95% of everything I had planned NOT including the unplanned (e.g.: Morocco visit).

Postscript: After each trip my rough estimate of my itinerary’s ’site visits’ completion was at at least 95%.


        Bus Tour & Cruise tourists need ONLY choose a ‘package’, book their tour/cruise, flights, & get to START on time, companies do all research, planning & itinerary design.


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