That time of year is approaching again when my boy and I reach another year older and his wish was to travel South to the bustling city of London.
I’m not much of a city girl but I do love Sherlock, river cruises and museums – geek out! So London was a great idea for a birthday get-away.
This was going to be the beginning efforts of our life journey to explore the world as it has always been a longing dream of mine.
First step was to create a basic template draft which details required information. I used Notepad on my Samsung Tab E to record this information. This makes life a lot easier when planning and when you need to refer quickly to specific information such as emergency contacts, rather than having to route through lots of paperwork or emails. It is also easily altered for different types of destinations/holidays/travel as you will see later in the year how I adapted it for planning a trip to France. You may also use this template for your itinerary plans should you wish. Remember to also keep hard copies of all necessary documents and ID just in case your device loses charge;
Month of travel – £ X total budget for full trip including travel, meals & accommodation
Accommodation name & address
Check in X Check out X
Breakfast Inc ?? – here you could list WIFI, crib, bedding or sauna; whatever your tastes are!
Train From X To X
Bus station X To X
DATE TIME arrive TIME
DATE TIME arrive TIME
Itinerary – example
[Breakfast out, food shop, check in £20
Check the area out – parks, sights etc, sandwiches £5
Tea in room (travel stove)]
London motor museum £22 PAID @Hayes 10:00 – 18:00 metro £8
Explore sights, sandwiches £5
Tea in room (travel stove)
Night open top bus tour £18 @Victoria ]
=£ X total for all trips’ experiences/activities/meals etc
Items – example, could detail more fully if you wish to get super-organised!
Notepad, pen, felts
Camera, phone & charger
Products – wash, oils, toothpaste, razor
- You will notice that I have not put much detail to the ‘itinerary’ section themselves since I do not like to be bound by set times and routines, therefore I make a note of the brief overview of activities/experiences for each day and note their costs, places, opening hours (if applicable) and whether I have already purchased tickets. If the activity officially begins at a certain time for having to meet the group such as tours or excusrions, then I will detail the times for meet up and ensure we are there for this.
- The ‘items’ section just breifly lists items which I am to take. I don’t bother getting into specifics such as ‘two white tee shirts, five black socks…’ as I decide this when packing. If I need to purchase an item, I will mark it with an astrophix ( * ). Of course, this can be adapted for anyone’s preference to which will assist them in their planning/packing.
BOOKING ACCOMMODATION AND TRAVEL
Before I begin researching, a total budget for the trip needs to be determined and I take a look into the general costs of accommodation on various search sites. Depending on the destination of travel I will look for campsites, caravans, B&Bs, hotels or hostels. Camping is my favourite, but without a car to travel from and to the campsite it would be difficult in the middle of the giant city of London.
Whilst researching the accommodation, I establish whether it is accessable for my means of transport. My trip to London is via coach, so I ensured that the b&b was within close proximity to my coach drop-off point.
For this trip, we booked through booking.com which allowed me to secure the room without any ties or payment required until the day we turn up. Perfect! This means if I find a cheaper or better deal elsewhere I can cancel without any charge to me so long as I cancel prior to the week before we are due to arrive. It is the most simplest booking site for accommodation any where in the world. The last time we used booking.com was for our trip to Spain, and the hotel was lovely, cheap and within minutes from the beach!
So now we have the accommodation booked in, we can get on to doing some serious research on what we are going to do down there…
I can now research places of interest and make a quick list of all the different activities/experiences/places of interest in that city.
Now, I know the city of London is quite vast (in UK’s standards) and so having made my quick list, I then search each one on our best friend Google to see where abouts it is in the city and the cost then i can determine if it fits within my budget and travel reaches. If not it gets cut from the pack until finally, we end up with a list that fits nicely.
These activities are then made into a mini scavenger hunt list for Brody and marked out on a printed map of the area. I also download an area map of the London tube lines to follow that colour to certain destinations.
Once the list and map is complete, I take these with me in my son’s pack for a scavenger hunt sheet which he can then visualise the layout of our travels and check each activity off having visited. He loves this as he thinks he is a pirate on an adventure for the Queen’s gold!
Having carried out the task of researching all of the activities or experiences that fit within my needs, I add these into the itinerary above for my own reference.
Then I search Wowcher or other voucher sites for the cheapest deals and book the ones I definately want to do. I also download any good free walking tours or information on activities I need such as opening times.
I note that for some destinations, I will need to use the tube or buses to get about and so I will need to obtain an Oyster card for this. Having researched this and any other methods of transport such as PAYG options and rail cards, I decided the Oyster card was the best and cheapest option for us. You can collect these cards from certain rail stations or online; visit their site for more information, to check which stations you can pick these up from and where you can top them up. Since we are staying in Victoria we will collect ours from the Victoria station on arrival day.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
At this point I can give thought to how much I wish to spend on meals.
Now I am a budget traveller and although I really love food, I love travelling more, and so I choose to make my own meals and snacks for the trip with perhaps one meal in a restaurant for experience so that my budget stretches further. Therefore, my meal planning is quite simple.
On the first day I will be arriving early – 6:30am to be precise! – so my boy and I will take to the supermarket to gather a few essential items for snacks, lunches and dinners. Since breakfasts are already included within our accommodation we do not need to purchase this at this shop. My ideal grocery list for four days would be;
- Large tub of yogurt (nuts, seeds, chia, dessicated coconut, and flax seeds will be packed as a prepped mixture in my backpack)
- Sustainable fruit such as bananas, oranges, apples and pears
- Bread/tortilla wraps, cheese or other filler, rocket mixed salad, and supersprings (for sandwich lunches each day)
- Carrots, celery and peanut butter (for vegetable sticks)
- Crackers etc (alternative snacks)
- Bottled water
- Tinned meals (for dinners)
You may be wondering how I plan to cook tinned meals in a bed & breakfast… simple really – mini gas canister, mini travel stove and backpacker travel pan all up in the room! Don’t worry, we are careful and follow safety procedures, i.e. common sense.
Oh, I love a good camp out 😄
We leave for London soon and our itinerary plan, map and activity list is complete. The accommodation has been booked and ready to be paid for on arrival, some activities have been booked and tickets purchased in advance, and our backpacks are ready to be stuffed.
Until next time my friends…