To schedule or not to schedule?
Making a schedule for your trip might sound weird at first, shouldn’t you be on vacation? But actually it can make your trip less stressful and more relaxed. Depending on your trip, you might have some schedules already, a guided tour, pre-purchased museum tickets for certain time slot, or if nothing else, at least your flights (or train or bus).
I am a visual person, so instead of just planning the schedules in my mind, it helps when I can also see them and take a quick glance where I need to be at what time.
Besides events and tours, I don’t usually make exact plans for sightseeing, just a draft with one or two main sights per day. If I have an early flight, I plan where I spend the time before hotel check-in and after that I usually plan one day at a time. Again, if I have a late return flight, I try to leave something that is easy to explore for the last day, so I can carry my belongings with me (which I don’t usually have that much, see a post about packing). When I travel with carry-on baggage only, I try to be at Helsinki Airport at least 1.5 hours before my flight. On a less familiar airport my goal is to be there at least two hours before.
Latest trip example
In the picture you can see my schedule for a trip in Rome two weeks ago (translated to English for your convenience). The first day was just for traveling, but the next three days were quite full booked with tours, pre-booked museum visits and a day trip to Florence. For Saturday-Monday I had just marked some the places I might visit, without a specific schedule.
The plan worked well, I saw everything I wanted without feeling too rushed. Especially in Rome it really pays off to pre-book tickets to get in faster for example to Colosseum and Vatican Museums. Of course then you need to be there at certain time, but you can save hours if you don’t need to stand in the ticket line.
With all the scheduling, it is equally important to leave some time for free wandering, ice cream eating and such. Also when your schedule is not too full, it is ok to stay inside if it rains without missing something important you wanted to see.
I have found this type of scheduling useful for me. Usually I have a bit less fixed schedule that on the mentioned Rome trip, but you got the point. What is your way, scheduling or no scheduling?