Saturday, March 23, 2013

Egypt Itinerary and How to Create a Travel Itinerary

I want to share how we create an itinerary for our travels and what we are planning for our trip to Egypt. 

How to Create a Travel Itinerary

I like to use Google Drive Spreadsheets or Excel to create a travel itinerary.  This itinerary will no doubt change over time, but it gives you an idea of how to go about creating one of your own.

Creating a good travel itinerary will take some time and will be revised constantly as you get closer to your trip.  Also, you will learn a lot about the place you are going as you draft your itinerary and you will find new places that you want to visit.

I recommend purchasing a book about Egypt.  The Rough Guide to Egypt is the guide that I bought and it has a great amount of information about Egypt.  This is the most current Rough Guide to Egypt (it came out early 2013).  This book is good because it has a lot of full color maps of both the country and cities, as well as maps of the temples.  There is a lot of information about taking buses and trains around Egypt, as well as some of the hostels and cheap food that can be found in Egypt.  There is a lot of information, however, that is irrelevant to budget traveling, but overall I am happy with the purchase.

Once you have a guidebook, create a spreadsheet either by hand or by computer.  You should break it up by day and by place.  For example, on your first day, put where you will be, what you want to do, and a rough estimate of the amount you have budgeted.  This way, once you finish the first draft of your itinerary, you will have an idea of what places you have time to visit, and you can ask yourself if you think you are missing something and if you want to change your trip. 

I have found that taking a trip without a good itinerary made it so I did not see as much.  I often would spend more as I did not have an idea of what to be budgeting per day.  Some places (such as Alexandria in the summer) will be more expensive than other places (such as Cairo).  Therefore, knowing what to budget in Cairo and what to budget in Alexandria, separately, is helpful.  Also, keep in mind that transportation costs are often the most expensive part of a trip.  If you plan on taking taxis and trains often, this can eat up a lot of your travel budget.  Therefore, consider supplementing your trip with inexpensive bus rides or using public transportation while in the cities instead of Taxis.

While in Egypt, we want to visit Cairo, Alexandria, Siwa, Luxor, Aswan, Dahab, Mount Sinai, and Nuweiba.  We have 36 days in which to do this.  By creating a travel itinerary, we are able to plan for a journey that will take us around all of Egypt and allow us to get the most out of Egypt in a still limited time. 

Also, consider breaking up your itinerary into smaller daily itineraries.  You can create extra pages on Google Drive or Excel that allow you to plan for each individual day.  For example, I can state that while in Cairo on day 2 that I want to see Islamic Cairo and visit the Khan Al-Khalili market, as well as visit Tahrir Square. 

I hope that this post gave you some ideas on how to create a good travel itinerary.  It does not have to be something fancy.  Instead, something that allows you to plan where you want to see and how long you want to spend in each place should be sufficient.  Such a document will change quite a bit as you plan.  However, part of the fun of taking a big trip is planning and discovering the things you want to see.  Planning gives you a way to get the big places out of the way and focus on getting a little bit off the beaten path when you are on vacation. 

The Purpose of This Blog

Many people think Egypt is an unsafe place to visit.  This is due to many articles in the news about happenings that are going on in Egypt right now.  With that being said, I am writing this blog as my wife and I are planning on a month long trip to Egypt starting this May.  Egypt has always been a "dream destination" of mine.  I remember, when I was quite young, reading books about Egypt and being mesmerized with the culture, the history, and the monuments.  As I grew older, I continued to be interested in Egypt and the culture of its people.  There are few places in the world with such a past as dynamic as Egypt.  And therefore, I decided that it would be where I would go after finishing law school and before beginning my career. 

The purpose of this blog is to
1.  Help me prepare for Egypt, and
2.  to share my travels and experiences with others who are looking to travel to Egypt, and
3.  to give me something to remember this trip by. 

My wife and I are both budget travelers who have visited quite a variety of countries around the world, some for an extended amount of time.  We currently live in New York, and have previously resided in San Francisco.  We have always wished that we would have wrote more extensively about our trips.  By creating a blog, we feel that we can have something to look back on once our trip is finished.  We feel that this will give us something to share with others who are interested in visiting or learning more about Egypt.

We are both students and "budget travelers."  We believe that everyone should aspire to travel to new places and to open their minds about the world around them, no matter what their budget.  We have found that travel can be done inexpensively with enough planning and know how.  With that in mind, we will be staying at budget hostels and inexpensive hotels, eating street food, and cooking things on our own using local ingredients.  This is how we travel, and it lets us to learn a lot more about the people that call the countries we visit "home."  Supplementing this blog will be videos, reviews for restaurants and hotels, and things that we missed but would like to see if we return.  But, as this is being written, we are in the planning stages for this trip and will be talking a lot about what and where we want to see, and sharing with our readers the links and research that we find on Egypt.  If you have something to share, or if you have a website that is relevant to visiting Egypt, please let us know, and we will share it.  It is our goal to make this site a key resource for those who are planning on visiting Egypt in the future.

Currently, Egypt is considered a dangerous place to visit to some based on media reports.  While there is a great amount of instability right now in Egypt, we have supplemented our knowledge with first hand reports from travelers who are currently in Egypt.  Many people who are visiting Egypt right now will tell you, first hand, that they are enjoying themselves and see no reason to not visit.  Egypt relies greatly on tourism and it only hurts the country more when people do not visit.  In fact, I have read stories that state that the big sites like the Pyramids at Giza, the Karnack temple complex, and other places are deserted now compared to how they were a few years ago.  This only tells me that this is a great time to visit Egypt.  When else in my life would I have the opportunity to go to such a dynamic place and be able to see some of the greatest sites of the ancient world without the crowds that generally visit?