Travel Thoughts: Trip Planning
In part one, we spent some time progressing from daydreaming to researching. Now, we can start to formulate a plan and finalize the details to make the trip a reality. Here is where we look at the time we have, all of the things we found to do, and the places we found to stay and create a realistic schedule according to what we know about how we like to travel. There will always be something left undone – make sure it’s not important to you unless you are already planning to go back! Then, we keep going:
How are you going to get there?
Planes, trains, and... Cruise ships! This is a simple enough question to answer based mainly on what is accessible to and from your destination and the price for alternate options. The beauty of our chosen city (& many like it) is that we have so many options for how to get where we want to go. For our summer trip, we stuck with the tried and true – road trip!
How much are you going to spend?
I've started mentioning money and inevitably, to make a dream a reality, we have to start talking dollars. However, for us, budget doesn't mean scrimp and sacrifice. It means having a plan early-on and either being ok with what we are going to spend and saving up some more for the trip or finding some savings in areas that in the end don't matter to make it work. A lot of it is about knowing what you value.
For example, we are not big foodies, so we save a lot on food by not eating out for every meal and when we do, opting for lunch, which is generally less expensive. Also, we might stay in a cheaper, less luxurious hotel one night to afford a fancier room the next night. If our budget for hotels is $400 for 2 nights, we could stay in the same, modestly priced, comfortable and nice but not fancy room for 2 nights, or we could stay in a $100 bare necessities one night and a $300 epic ocean view balcony suite the next. We actually just did this and, due to fortune and a full hotel, were complimentary-upgraded to the penthouse suite - a room that books for at least twice what we paid for and was gloriously epic. I think I giggled for 15 minutes straight when we first walked in!
Are there any other logistics requirements, particularly destination specific?
If you are going out of the country, be sure to research any vaccination and passport requirements, such as visas and expiration requirements. It is also a good idea to research any travel warnings and security suggestions, if only for awareness.
We also suggest looking into travel insurance. We have been lax and fortunately lucky in this regard, but are getting on board with trip insurance, particularly since it is so inexpensive compared to the alternative unplanned accident! On one cruise, the ship had to slightly alter course and delay our return to port (darn!) due to a helicopter medical evacuation to the closest available island ($$$!). I’ll take “things I’d like to avoid for $200” please, and if we can’t avoid it, I’d at least like to be minimally financially affected by it!
Do you need any special supplies for your trip?
Ah, an excuse to shop! Be it a new outfit, swimsuit, or suitcase, there’s almost always something I want to buy in the name of a trip. Seriously, though, I intended this as a cue to think of things you might need – such as sunblock and Dramamine – as well as things that will make your trip better/safer or even save you money. What did we buy for our recent epic beach road trip? A waterproof pouch, as-flattering-as-possible life vests, and full-face snorkeling masks... along with that Dramamine and sunblock! We first bought snorkeling gear before going on a cruise and it ended up paying for itself in one port where we were able to snorkel off-shore without going on a pricey excursion!
Where do you want to eat?
Until recently, we never really made a plan regarding food unless we came across a must-eat-at restaurant during our research. And, we were always suffering the perennial “what do you feel like eating?”/”what do you want to do for lunch/dinner?” back and forth. This latest trip we returned from, though, I had the time and foresight to research a few options for each day – be it a restaurant in the hotel or at whatever attraction we were visiting or something novel nearby. This ended up working out fabulously and we spent more time trying to decide if we were hungry yet than on the what and where!
One last tip: If you are going to a foreign-language speaking locale, consider learning some of the language basics – both speaking and reading. For me, this isn’t just a ‘nice thing to do,’ but something that can aid in reducing the number of possible travel-related headaches.
Have a great trip!
A 2010 study published in the journal of Applied Research in Quality of Life found that you may just get greater satisfaction out of planning your trip than actually going on it! So, where are you planning on going? Tell us in the comments!
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