Trip Planning: Prioritizing the Itinerary

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Phillipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY
This step is a simple one, but I believe it's an essential part of good travel planning, especially for anyone traveling in a group or working with limited time.


I love lists. When I'm trying to figure something out, anything from a major life decision, to an essay's thesis, or just which shoes I want the most, it helps for me to write my thoughts out on paper. The important of this step doubles when I'm working in a group. Ever experienced that moment where you get in a car with a group of friends going to dinner and someone asks, "Where should we go." Then, there's silence. No one wants to be pushy or suggest the wrong place. Now think about dealing with that every time you make a decision during your trip. The best way to circumvent this problem is to prioritize your itinerary.

When I'm in charge of planning, I like to send everyone away to make a list of the top five things they want to see or do on the trip, arranged in order of importance. (I know, homework, bleh, but I promise this works.) After everyone has his/her list, get together and compare.


Inevitably your lists will show aligning interests. Maybe you're going to Paris with friends and everyone comes back with Eiffel Tower on their list. You know that seeing the Eiffel Tower should be a priority. Generally, I use these lists with two rules.

1. Everyone gets to do the first thing on his or her list. It doesn't matter how boring you think the modern art museum sounds, your friend loves modern art and deserves to get what she wants out of the trip as much as you do.

2. Things that appear on multiple people's lists should also go on the itinerary. Chances are these will be the big sights at any destination and most people in the group will be glad to see them, even if it didn't make their top five lists.

These lists probably won't give you a plan for every single sight you're going to see during the trip. In fact, I think this method works best when it gives you no more than one sight per trip day. Remember that certain museums or attractions maybe be closed, or outdoor activities could be rained out. When you get farther into your planning you'll want to be able to fit in everything you've prioritized in so make sure you have enough wiggle room at this stage to protect for unforeseen circumstances.

Happy Planning!

Want to see more in this travel series? Click here for the master post.
You can view the last post on The Budget Discussion here.
And the next post on Nitty Gritty Details and Letting Go here.

If you're interested in other blogs on travel planning, Marie from Marie Away is doing a great series on Travel Research for Lazy Planners over on her blog.

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  1. This is some great piece of advice! It is a wonderful idea the making a list and comparing it with the whole group. Thanks for sharing!
    With love,


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