Caroline Costello and Ed Hewitt report:
"If you really want to squeeze in every tour, meal and excursion you've typed into your itinerary, but as it currently stands you're getting six hours of sleep a night with no room for a time adjustment, you need to add a day -- or cut an activity...[Create] a list of everything you want to see or do in your locale. Then put the list in priority order. To help estimate how long an activity will take, or how long it will take to get there, consult a guidebook or check out online forums or reviews for perspectives from other travelers who've been there and done that...Research events happening in your destination while you'll be there (tourist board websites are good for this -- they usually have events calendars), and plan accordingly...Also note local holidays coinciding with your trip, which can affect transportation schedules, business opening hours, etc. Ambitious travelers who plan to embark on a weeklong tour of Europe...should do some serious planning. In a case like this, a map is your best friend as you prioritize activities. Look at a map and start grouping the different attractions you want to see by neighborhood or region -- this will help you minimize transit time between one part of your itinerary and the next. There's more to consider than just time and location. Planning to search for sunken treasures? Most scuba experts agree that divers should allow at least 24 hours between scuba diving and flying (so that your body can adjust to changes in altitude). If you have a cruise or a prepaid excursion planned, arrange for your flight to arrive no less than a day prior to your departure date. Otherwise, a missed or severely delayed flight could cost you. A good rule of thumb, regardless of what you have planned: The more space your itinerary allows between activities and transportation, the better...[I]t's important to account for time spent schlepping from the economy parking lot a few towns over. Allow yourself plenty of time to make it through the security checkpoint's snaking line. Ask yourself a few questions: How far from the airport do I live or work? Will I have an opportunity to eat before driving to the airport? If I miss the parking or rental car shuttle by seconds, will I have enough time to wait for the next one, or am I going to be sprinting across the lot trying to hail down the driver? The same thing goes for your arrival...[I]t's important to weigh thrift against travel time...If you simply can't avoid a connection [to your itinerary], make sure not to cut it too close. Allowing at least a couple of hours to change planes (longer for international connections) will give you a little wiggle room in case of delayed flights...Various websites and apps have facilitated the creation of itineraries, and the ability to share those itineraries, for thousands of tech-savvy travelers...Your itinerary is not a legally binding contract. It's more like a rough draft written in sand...Consider scheduling a free day into your itinerary. During your trip, it's likely you'll discover some worthwhile attractions you didn't know about prior to your departure. This will also give you some wiggle room in case you don't see everything you had originally planned. All in all, the most flexible itinerary is often the best...If you know where the bumps in the road might be, you can steer around them. And if you're really lucky, you can put it all together for the perfect itinerary."
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