1. Research your destination thoroughly.
This step is super important because touristy destinations aren't the only places to explore while on vacation--off the beaten path locations (safe locations of course) can be even better! Speaking to Jamaica specifically there are tons of places I came across while researching that I knew would pop up on my search but I made it a priority to read up on some places that not many tourists frequent. Exploring hidden gems can be the best part of a vacation. I found out about the beautiful Frenchman's Cove in Portland, Jamaica that not a lot of tourists visit, but it's actually rated one of the most beautiful parts of the island to visit because of the stunning beaches & blue lagoon. Finding unique places to add to your itinerary is the foundation of making your experience great.
2. Use Trip Advisor - It's your best friend
Many of you have heard of tripadvisor.com. It's one of the my favorite sites for finding cheap flights and hotels reviews. But trip advisor has so much more to offer a savvy traveler. It has a huge database with awesome reviews on hotels, restaurants, beaches, travel companies, tour services and so much more. Use this site as a filter to cross off any shady places off your list. Ensuring that you have quality, well reviewed locations on your itinerary is essential.
3. Build your itinerary in excel format.
When I first started to format my itinerary, I was using the word applications (which was ok), but I noticed that I really didn't love the layout of it. This is all personal preference and some people are better with word than they are at excel, but I just loved the look of the document once it was in excel. I found that it was also easier to edit.
4. Don't try to make an itinerary in a day.
Not everyone is a planner and some people don't make itineraries for trips, but if this is something you really want to do, it's important to note that it won't happen in a day (at least a really good one won't). Now, if a week is all you have, then hey, make it work! However, planning ahead is great because it leaves room for changing or adding more locations to explore.
5. Stop planning a week before your departure & leave room for changes.
Lock that itinerary down and send it out to everyone on the trip because if you don't you'll be temped to continuously edit (kinda like me). You don't want to continue to tweak the intineary up until the day of the trip. Most importantly, remember that while on your vacation things will come up that you didn't plan for! That awesome shack of a restaurant on the beach that you planned on going to could be closed for renovations or that cute little shop that you promised your friend you would get her something from suddenly went out of business. Regardless of the scenario leave room for changes & have fun!
P.S. 8 Things I can't wait to do in Jamaica
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