What to Include in a Travel Itinerary

Be prepared and enjoy the most out of your travel.
Image courtesy of Plant Migration Zine

Traveling is two parts fun and one part serious. It’s not all about just going places and eating delish food. Before you step out of the plane and into your posh hotel, you first need to plan your itinerary. A well-planned itinerary is the key to having an enjoyable trip that you will remember for the great things you enjoyed instead for the hassles you encountered.

But where to start and how? Here’s a list of the things that you should include in your itinerary:

  • Contact numbers: of all services you will avail of, from cars to airlines to tour companies
  • Restaurants and sights: that you want to check out, based on your research and the recommendations of your friends and family.
  • Guidelines: on baggage allowance (so that you won’t be charged for excess baggage, take note that a promo fare flight might not have any provision for check-in baggage), immigration and other airport rules.
  • A checklist: of all the medicines that you need to bring, as well as other things that you need to ensure you will be in top shape during your trip.
  • Addresses and directions: of and to important facilities such as hospitals and police stations, as well as of your local embassy in case any emergency occurs.
  • Addresses and contact numbers: of important facilities at home, such as government agencies and the contact numbers of your family and friends.
  • Your tour schedule: and the contact number and email address of the tour company that you availed from. Also print copies of your transaction receipts as proofs of the down payments that you already made beforehand.
  • Maps: especially if you are going on a backpacking trip without any tour guide! Also toss in some guidebooks such as Lonely Planet and smartphone apps.
  • A priority list: of the things that you target to do during your trip. You might miss out on some must-do’s and must-sees if you get carried away in the natural flow of your tour.
  • Your important details: aside from the actual documents such as your passport and other IDs. Take note of your identification numbers and save it in your smartphone.
  • A set budget: for all the expenses that you will incur, especially if you target to buy expensive items such as gadgets (in Hong Kong, for instance), and a large wad of souvenirs (in case you promised your whole office t shirts).

Culture Traveling 101

What makes you passionate about travel?

Why do you travel? Is it to detoxify? Is it so you can see scenic spots or to experience thrills? I hope that when you do travel, you get to experience the local culture of the place you go to. Culture defines a place more deeply than a tourist spot and souvenir pieces. How can you experience a place and its culture on your next trip? How can you make sure that your plane tickets become remembrances to memorable and meaningful exchanges with the locals in whatever destination you go to? Here’s a guide:

  • Go someplace where there aren’t many tourist facilities. Boracay, Cebu, Singapore – these are places where you can do a lot and see a lot. But with the many sights and activities come the lack of time to interact with the locals. For your next travel, why not go to a place where there are limited tourism provisions so you can experience a more authentic trip in touch with the local culture of the place?
  • Become part of an outreach group that travels. What’s your advocacy? Is it a religion? Do you want to teach kids around the world how to read or write? Surely you have something that you want to share to everybody, something that you’d be passionate enough to travel the world for. This type of trip will surely take you to have a closer look at the lives of the locals – the people you want to reach out to.
  • Instead of booking a tour guide, find a local. With a local as your tour guide, you get to have a livelier and more realistic tour of the places that you’ll go to. Just don’t expect any deep detail about the history of the places you’ll visit; locals give a different vibe to a tour. Make sure you give a token of appreciation to your tour guide!
  • Spend more time in a tourist spot. If you want to go to a popular tourist spot, say, the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Rome, instead of just taking photos, sit inside and observe the comings and goings of people. It is a place of prayer after all, and it is where you can observe locals in their vulnerable state – praying. Talk with a churchgoer and ask questions about their faith.
  • Focus on what the place is passionate about. Every place has its own pulse. In Africa, for instance, you will find certain places where the locals are very passionate about taking care of the animals that roam around. Find about what your destination is known for or passionate about and show your support.

The Seven Wonders of the World

And you thought that there were really only seven.

The Seven Wonders of the World was a list created by the Ancient Greeks. Naturally, all it included were sights that were familiar to those in the Mediterranean Region. But since the list spread throughout the world, other individuals, perhaps realizing that the world has more wonders outside of what the Greeks saw, created a list that accommodates other wonders in other parts of the globe.

Different organizations and groups have since adopted the term “seven wonders of the world” in their efforts to promote other amazing sights around the world. Let us take a look at seven of the most impressive wonders of the world that has since made it to the various lists (yes, whether it be of the ancient, modern or new world) created and released. Watch out for seat sales to these international destinations! (Tip: domestic airlines such as Cebu pacific and Seair might not have the flights you’re targeting, so bookmark other international airlines as well.)

The Great Pyramid of Giza

The Pyramid of Giza in the ancient times

Among all the wonders in the original list, only the Pyramid survives. Being the strongest structure in theory, the Egyptians proved that it translates well into real, actual structures.

Take a photo of you pretending to hold the pyramid at the tip, and you get the cliché souvenir photo!

The Golden Gate Bridge

Included in the Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the Golden Gate Bridge is an architectural marvel, standing loud and proud and proving to be very useful as well. Its construction was finished in 9137, and has since become an iconic landmark not only of San Francisco, but also of America. It is perhaps the most popular bridge in the world, having been wrecked and reconstructed in different films.

When you get the chance to visit San Franciso, make sure you pass through it, whether in a car, on a bike or through a guided walking tour.

Grand Canyon

Another nature of the world that has made appearances in different movies, the most significant one being 127 Hours, where a man gets stuck in the Grand Canyon and had to cut his arm to escape. Let’s not get into details. Anyway, the Grand Canyon is one of the Earth’s testimony of its millions of years of formation. The Colorado River has carved the Canyon through time, exposing layers of rocks that give geologists clues about the Earth.

The grand thing about the Grand Canyon is that you can take different types of guided tours. Hop into a helicopter for an aerial view, or ride a jeep for a more thrilling speed ride. To feel closer to nature, you may take a hike, a walk, or go biking around. Just make sure that you don’t take the tour alone, lest you end up like the guy in 127 Hours.

The Great Wall of China

If you’re one of the many people who believe that the Great Wall of China is the only manmade structure that can be seen from the moon, sorry to burst your bubble, but it actually isn’t true. In fact, scientists say that the Great Wall is visible from the moon like how human hair is visible from two miles. In other words, no it’s not visible. But that fact doesn’t lessen the awesomeness that is the Great Wall of China. It is rich in history, and it is deeming with Chinese culture.

Challenge yourself for a long walk as you visit the wall in the Badaling Section, the most frequented and best-preserved part of the wall. Guided tours are also available, including video presentations about the history of the Wall, and entrance to the museum near it.

Music to Inspire the Traveler in You

We’re on a roll with inspiration, aren’t we? 😉

Music is one of the widely understood languages of the world. What better language to associate to traveling around the planet than music, and the good kind at that? If you’ve been lacking in inspiration, there’s nothing like good music to rev up your travel mood and get you booking your next flight. Want some suggestions? Here are some surefire music tracks and genres to encourage you:

  • Walkin’ on Sunshine (Katrina and the Waves). Perfect for road trips and even while you clean your car for it, this happy and feel-good track will lift up your mood and will make you realize that you shouldn’t be just watching TV; you should be out on the sun! 
  • One Love (Bob Marley). One of Marley’s anthemic songs, One Love talks about unity and togetherness, things that you experience while you travel with your buddies and interact with different people. Besides, you can’t ever go wrong with reggae!
  • Beautiful Day (U2). Rock music that sends blood rushing to your head? Check! Perfect lyrics that match a great day in a foreign land? Check! One of the best bands in the world? Check! Oh, throw in their other song “The Sweetest Thing” if you’re traveling with your love too!
  • Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall (Coldplay). You’d think that Coldplay tracks will make you want to curl up in bed and drink hot cocoa while the rain pours down outside. But no, Coldplay has a few good tracks fit for a fun day of traveling. Every Teardrop Is a Waterfall is an example of such track, and is the perfect background music for a video collage of all the clips of you in your travels.
  • Life is a Highway (Rascal Flatts). There is something uplifting about country music. The lyrics plus the upbeat, easy-to-sing-along-to tunes make for a perfect song for driving down the, well, the highway! If you want more feel good country music in your travel inspiration playlist, throw in some Taylor Swift! She’s not famous for nothing; her songs are quite singable and perfect for singing your lungs out with your friends.
  • Come Away with Me (Norah Jones). You may argue that this is too honeymoon-y for a backpacking trip, but believe me when I say that at one point or another in your travel, you’d need to reflect on love and be all sentimental about it. It may be while you wait for your Cathay Pacific flight, or as you ride the train across Europe. After all, you’re traveling! You’re free to unleash all your feelings that are otherwise ignored on regular working days.

Books to Inspire the Traveler in You

You’d think that the desire to travel comes easily to anybody, but this isn’t the case. Some people would rather spend their money on gadgets, and some travel but don’t quite experience the real meaning of traveling.

If only they knew that traveling sets their minds and hearts free, if they knew that the value of a single travel surpasses that of the latest tech gadget, then everybody would prioritize it.

Sadly, this isn’t the case. It has become my advocacy to convince friends to get out and not miss out on all that traveling can give them. Most of the time, I encourage them to read my favorite travel blogs. An even more effective tool to inspire the inner traveler in everybody is by reading books that are travel-themed. Just as how a book provides an escape from the everyday life, so does traveling. Here are the books that create an escape and encourage its readers to go on that literal escape through traveling.

  • Eat, Pray, Love. At the top of our list is the travel novel of today Eat, Pray, Love. It is a visual story that leads the reader through author Elizabeth Gilbert’s journey as she moves on from a failed marriage. It effectively captures the essence of a travel, letting go and being open to all possibilities, even to the possibility of finding new love.

 

This novel epitomizes the art of letting go and opening yourself to possibilities
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Call it geeky, call it unrealistic, but isn’t this what traveling is all about? This work of fiction (unfortunately, technological advancements in this book hasn’t been developed yet) is an interesting read that will unleash your inner geek. Aside from being great at inspiring you to travel, it also serves as a great read during a long wait at the Caticlan Airport. It’s best to bring a less bulky edition of the book over the hardbound gold-printed one.

Take me to the other world.

  • The Odyssey. Another geek book? Before you walk out on me, let me just say that no work of fiction can excite going to Greece or Italy more than Homer’s masterpiece (unless you’d rather read a Greek Mythology reference book). Moreover, the adventures of Odysseus are a good standard to set you off to your own adventure, whether it’s in Greece, in Italy, or in the streets of Metro Manila.

Epic poems, anyone?

  • Lord of the Rings. Since we’re along the lines of adventure (cyclops and whirlpools, anyone?), let’s not forget JRR Tolkien’s epic novel that has inspired travelers and non-travelers alike. The fellowship of the ring travels Middle Earth to fulfill their purpose; you should too, travel Middle Earth (that’s just the world, in plain non-Tolkien words) to find and fulfill your purpose in life.

Our beloved Frodo… and Gollum

  • No Reservations: Around the World on an Empty Stomach. I love the show, I loved the book! Anthony Bourdain is someone I can look up to in terms of wit, taste, sarcasm and experiences. How I wish I could take my own version of humor to dine in the best restaurants and to travel the ends of the earth. Can you imagine a sushi restaurant in Japan that serves 20 pieces of sushi for P16,000? Now, can you imagine eating there and eating the best sushi you’ll ever have in your whole life, and get paid for doing it? Anthony Bourdain is one lucky bastard.

    Wit, humor and of course, good food

A Unique Baguio Experience

Burnham Lake – one of the most popular attractions in Baguio

Say “Baguio” and immediately a collage of images enter the mind: Burnham Park, Strawberry fields, Camp John Hay and souvenir t-shirts. Will I go to Baguio for the same stuff? No, not anymore, although I’ll admit I’ve never gone horseback riding at Burnham Park, nor have I ever met the huge adorable St. Bernard that has charmed tourists and locals alike.

The point is, there must be something more than the usual sights and experiences in Baguio. Honestly, if you’d ask me, I’d skip Baguio if all I’ll have is a souvenir photo near the lion that welcomes me to the City of Pines.

Get my drift? So in my desire to go to Baguio (I don’t have to buy plane tickets to go there, I simply love the weather and it’s been ages since I visited), I took a tour around the Internet and found these activities that can make for a unique Baguio experience. Let me know of your thoughts in the comments section!

 

Day 1. A whole day at the BenCab Museum

Bencab Garden in Baguio

  • Check out the galleries. The Museum is four floors big, with every floor housing several galleries. Don’t rush in viewing the art pieces. Just let your mind take you from one piece to another. By the time you’re done, you might come out of the museum a renewed person.
  • Dine at Café Sabel. This in-museum café was named after BenCab’s famous muse called, you guessed it, Sabel. Here you can have a taste of recipes that BenCab himself created, as well as other house specialties that are uniquely BenCab. Take home native chocolates from the café and buy traditional Baguio pasalubongs made the BenCab way.
  • Go for an eco-trail hike. BenCab’s property isn’t limited to the Museum, but extends to a vast land of strawberry fields, plants and even authentic Ifugao houses transported to the area.

Day 2. Food trip!

Menu at Cafe by the Ruins

  • Have breakfast at Forest House. From being a multi-awarded restaurant before, Forest House has expanded to become a bed and breakfast place that offers the best breakfast view in the area. Wake up to cold and foggy Baguio in your pajamas and a cozy warm breakfast.
  • Have lunch at Café by the Ruins. This well-loved restaurant was about to close down when patrons expressed their love and encouraged the owners to continue running the Café. Find out what makes this place a favorite among both tourists and locals. Quick tip: Order their basil bread.
  • Have a private dinner care of Chef Vicky Tinio Clemente. For a minimum of six persons, you can have a special Baguio dinner served by sought-after chef Vicky Tinio Clemente. It’s definitely a splurge, but it is a great way to end a cold day around Baguio. Chef changes her menu often, so come with no other expectation but to be filled with yum!

Day 3. More educational trips

Huts in Tam-awan Village

  • Visit Kidlat Tahimik’s house and jam with local artists. If the BenCab Museum offered an experience for the mind, going to Kidlat Tahimik’s abode will give you an experience of the soul. Meet his son Kawayan de Guia and other Baguio artists and have soulful conversations about life and arts.

Visit the Tam-awan Village. Another haven for artists, the Tam-awan village is a place where one can walk along interesting rows of Ifugao and Kalinga huts as he learns of Baguio culture and arts.

How to Make Traveling a Profitable Business

Believe me when I say that I dreamed to travel and make money just by doing it. What more could you wish for? People work so they can travel, so traveling for work is 100 times cooler, with rainbows, unicorns and a U2 song playing in the background. Got any ideas on how to make traveling a business? I have some here; let’s exchange notes.

Travel Photography

Do you like taking photos during your travels? I mean, not just photos of you and your travel buddies, but artistically taken photographs that would be worthy to be placed in the National Geographic website. If you want to pursue travel photography, you need to create a portfolio. To create a portfolio, you need a professional SLR camera. To maximize your SLR camera, you need to learn how to use it. Start somewhere by reading up on basic photography articles. Take what you learn during your travels and be conscious about your purpose of taking good photographs. Soon you’ll have a solid collection of photos that can be your gateway to being a travel photographer.

Travel Agency

This one for those travellers who pay close attention to each and every detail of their trip. Running a tour company will always start with a love for travel, and for quality trips at that. Use your hardcore research skills to find connections in accommodations, transportation and tour guides, and create packages that will make it easy for clients to have the trip of their lives. How will you incorporate travel in running a tour company? Visit your satellite branches to check how your staff are doing. Dream big!

Blogging

For people who love to write about their experiences, blogging is a great avenue to express themselves and also to make money. Although it takes a lot of time for a blog to earn a stable stream of income, it will always be worth it. After all. will your boss right now ever pay you for something that’s all about you and what you did during your last trip? If you have a travel blog, make it more attractive to sponsors and advertisers by including important trip details and writing comprehensive guides. And don’t forget the nice photos too!

Travel journalist

Let’s take blogging a notch higher. If you can write about waiting at the Cebu Airport and make it sound like a spiritual meditative activity, then you can be a travel writer. If you are an excellent writer, one that takes the craft seriously, one who always ends up discontented with his drafts and edits them until they’re perfection, then being a travel journalist is for you. Unlike a blogger who’s reliant on web traffic and other factors, being a travel journalist will only require you to be a super writer and nothing more. So if you want to be taken seriously as a travel writer, you also need to take the craft seriously. Practice like an athlete, read travel articles and subscribe to magazines so you always have that dose of inspiration. Soon, you will reap the benefits and earn money by travelling, experiencing things and telling your own version of the story.