How To Plan A Last-Minute Itinerary In Another Country That's As Instagrammable As It Is Fun
Planning out the perfect itinerary for your trip abroad can be difficult, but planning it at the last-minute is even more difficult. There are so many details to sort through — from flights and hotels, to tours and excursions. I just returned from a trip to India and the Maldives that was confirmed less than a week before I was supposed to leave, so I quickly figured out how to plan a last-minute itinerary in another country that was both fun and Instagrammable.
Honestly, I don't know how people planned out their travels before the internet, much less pre-Instagram. The only way I was able to plan out this incredible trip was because I, in my humble opinion, was able to expertly Google my destinations, navigate travel blogs for information, and comb through Instagram hashtags and location tags for the perfect spots. But if you're not quite sure where to begin, your hotel can also act as a fantastic resource so that you can have the trip of a lifetime.
The beauty of a last-minute trip is its spontaneity, which means that you can't really plan it out in advance. But with a few of these tips, you'll be able to make the most out of your next jet-setting adventure. Bon voyage!
1. Make Your Searches More Specific
The first thing I do when planning a trip itinerary is to Google the destination. And while a search like "best things to do in New York City" is great to get an overview of where you're going, you might find some better options that are less cliché when you search for things like "underrated places in New York City." Blogs and local publications will pop up with their suggestions of places to go.
Another option when you're Google searching is to take your top hits — for example, "Times Square" — and search for specific things within that location to make your visit there better, like "things to avoid in Times Square."
A go-to trick for major cities is to look up the filming locations of movies or TV shows that were filmed in that place (for example, "NYC Gossip Girl tour"). Movies and TV shows are great at scouting very picturesque — and oftentimes, less-visited — locations in a city, so they usually make for interesting places to visit (especially if you're already a fan of the movie or TV show).
2. Use Instagram Location Tags And Hashtags
After I've made a list of my top spots to visit, I like to search for the location on Instagram. People on Instagram get really creative with where and how they take their photos, and it's always a great tool to get some inspiration.
When I was planning my itinerary in Jaipur, India, I came across a few travel bloggers who visited some of the picturesque places in the city that I was already searching for. I then visited their personal pages and scrolled through their feed from while they were in Jaipur and found new places that hadn't come up in my Google searches.
Because Jaipur is nicknamed the "Pink City," I also searched through the "Pink City" hashtags on Instagram until I came across dreamy photos of people posing against the faded, terra cotta-colored walls of the city. This made it much easier for me to figure out which places I wanted to see IRL.
3. Ask Your Hotel's Concierge For Recommendations
Your hotel's concierge is there for a reason! They want to help you make your trip as memorable as possible, so definitely take advantage of their services.
On my recent trip to India, I stayed at Taj Hotels, which are known for their extremely accommodating concierge service. I had my best experience at the Taj Jai Mahal Palace in Jaipur. I knew that there were a lot of places I wanted to see, and I had a pretty packed Instagram-inspired itinerary planned, so after sharing my plans with the hotel's concierge, they were kind enough to provide a driver who was from Jaipur.
He knew all of the shortcuts around the city so that I could see everything I wanted to see. He acted as a tour guide as we drove through town, and even took the best picture of my mom and me of the entire trip.
The step well pictured above, called Panna Meena Ka Kund, isn't as crowded as some of the bigger step wells in the area. Luckily, our driver knew exactly how to get there, and took a specific route so that it would be on the way to our next stop.
4. Take Advantage Of Activities That Your Hotel Offers
Though I love going out and exploring cities the way the locals do, you can also experience a lot of fun things through the programming that your hotel offers — and you don't have to go too far to do it. These activities are especially beneficial if you're at an island resort.
I had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of feeding stingrays while I was at Taj Coral Reef in the Maldives, which is something I will truly never forget. The hotel's guide taught me how to feed the stingrays, and I got the most epic photos, too.
On the way back home from the Maldives, I spent a day in Malé. I stayed at Hotel Jen, from which I took an awesome walking tour. I was able to experience the local culture, visit the oldest mosque in Malé, and try some goodies from the street markets.
5. Read Travel Blogs
Travel blogs are one of my favorite resources. They often offer helpful advice on how to dress in that particular country, things you should consider bringing, and any pro tips that they would have liked someone to tell them before they went.
One of my favorite photos from my trip to India was in an archway off to the side of the main entrance of the Amber Fort. I had seen the archway in probably dozens of pictures on various blogs, so when I got to the Amber Fort, I kept an eye out for it so I could snap a pic there.
I find a lot of travel blogs by searching hashtags on Instagram and Twitter, or just by Googling. Once you find a few that are really solid, they're a great tool to help you in your planning process.