The best travel itinerary recipe

Have you ever followed a recipe for anything titled “the best” and been extremely disappointed?  I have.  I’ve tried about 10 “best blueberry muffin” recipes, and none of them were as good as my friend Amanda’s.  While I know calling this “the best travel itinerary recipe” could welcome some people who don’t like the taste, I still believe it’s got all the necessary ingredients for a great trip.

In my opinion, for a trip to be stellar, it needs all of these ingredients.  Do I always use this recipe for my trips?  No.  But, when I do, the trip tastes the best.

The best travel itinerary recipe


  • 1 full day and night for every travel day
  • 1 thing you’ve never done before
  • 1 thing you’ve done before and enjoyed
  • 1 new restaurant
  • 1 thing that relaxes you
  • 1 day of nothing planned
  • Optional: 1 thing that makes you uncomfortable


1. Now that you have the ingredients you’ll need, now it’s time to make the trip.  I consider a “travel day” to be the time you are in a car, plane, train or bus to get to your destination.  If you’re traveling, you need at least one full day and night somewhere to recover.  Make sure you aren’t traveling every single day.  I try to apply this to road trips as well.  If you’re driving every single day, you’re going to be exhausted.  Plan for rest, and plan the trip so that you have recovery time.

2. Add one thing you’ve never done before.  Have you ever kayaked down a river?  Ever walked up a lighthouse to see the view?  Ever hiked in a canyon?  Ever slept outside in a tent?  It doesn’t have to be skydiving, just something new to try that you’ve never done before.

3. Add one thing that you know you enjoy doing.  Love to swim in the ocean?  Love to go wine tasting?  Love to visit museums?  Add one thing that is tried and true.  Something you know you will enjoy no matter where you are, or who you’re with.

4. Look for a new restaurant to try.  If you’ve never been to this destination, all the restaurants will be new (aside from chains).  However, if you’ve been there before, or even not, look for a new restaurant that would be exciting to try.  Try to find one with local cuisine that you’d get to try food that you normally wouldn’t at home.  Look for one that makes your mouth water when you read the menu.

5. What makes you feel the most relaxed?  For me, I like to sit by something pretty and have something to drink and a book to read. I also love to do mindless small activities, like picking up shells at the beach.  What is it that relaxes you and helps you shut your brain down for a bit? Whatever that is, make sure you add that to your itinerary.

6. Always add one day (or half day) of nothing planned.  Whatever you feel like doing, do it.  If you want a bagel, go get a bagel.  If you want to sit and do nothing, sit and do nothing.  This sense of whim adds something really important to a trip: whatever you need in the moment.  If you’re tired, maybe you need to lay around in bed for a few hours.  You don’t have to go to work; you don’t have to do anything.  Just enjoy whatever it is you want.  Be in the moment.

7. This is the optional ingredient you always see on recipes.  You don’t have to add it, but if you do, it gives the food that little bit of extra something. Try adding one thing that makes you uncomfortable to your list; something that takes you out of your comfort zone and scares you a little bit.  Overcoming a fear, or simply being uncomfortable, can fill you with a rush of adrenaline.  After you do this, you will also be filled with a sense of accomplishment for doing something that took you out of your comfort zone.  Scared to take public transportation in NYC?  Do it.  Would you be uncomfortable having dinner with strangers?  Sign up for a food tour.  Don’t want to sleep outside?  Try camping for one night.  Just see if this optional ingredient gives your trip a little extra kick.

What would you add to this recipe?  Anything that makes your trip taste even better?

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