There’s nothing quite like the high of being on vacation but for me the excitement starts long before the plane has left the runway…
I’m headed off for a week in Paris next Saturday so it’s probably no surprise that plans and last minute checklists have been keeping me busy. From big things like booking the hotel and transportation to the more minor considerations (should we buy tickets to that attraction online in advance? Is it cheaper? Will we be able to skip the line?) there’s always a lot to think about when you’re getting ready to go away. Though every trip comes together differently there are a few constants when it comes to my planning process – the things I come back to again and again to ensure each journey is as amazing as it possibly can be.
1. Inspiration: Pinterest is always my first port of call when I’m considering a trip. It’s an amazing resource with thousands of fabulous ideas to suit anyone’s wanderlust. I have a board called ‘Destinations‘ which I’m constantly adding to and it’s a great starting point for narrowing down where we might want to fly, drive, or train ride off to.Once I have a destination in mind I find all the relevant pins on my Destinations board and add them to a Word document under categories like ‘Where to Stay’, ‘Where to Eat’, ‘Where to Shop’ and ‘What to See’. Following that I start searching key terms about the city or key sights to add to my list of ideas and suggestions for what not to miss.
2. Planning: The next thing I do is get my hands on a travel guide. As you can probably tell from the photo above, I’m fiercely loyal when it comes to guides. Seriously though – DK is the BEST! Full colour photos, up-to-date interesting facts and amazing recommendations from sights to shops to food. They’re the gold standard of travel guides in my opinion. Throughout my travels I’ve used both the larger country (or area) guides but if you’re off on a mini-break or spending any amount of concentrated time in a city the Top Ten books (US/UK/Canada) are your best bet. They do a fantastic job of streamlining the immeasurable information available about any given city and helping to highlight the ‘must-see’ sights. They also give really helpful half or full-day itineraries that walk you through a given area ensuring that even if your time is limited you still get a great experience and get to ‘live like a local’ while you’re there. I love cracking the spine on a new guide, reading it cover to cover and adding the information to my trip list!
3. Itinerizing: By the time I’ve read the guide the list I’m keeping in my Word doc is inevitably running into multiple pages so I take time to go through it all again and sort it into what makes sense in terms of the itinerary – organizing closely-located sights/shops/restaurants together and taking into account how much time I want to spend in each place. I usually like to pull up Google Maps too as seeing everything laid out in relation to your hotel is hugely helpful. I always make sure to underestimate rather than overestimate what I think I’ll be able to see each day as a holiday spent rushing from place to place without taking time to really enjoy any of it doesn’t end up feeling like much of a holiday at all! This is also the time to be a bit ruthless and to consider what I absolutely have to see and what might be best to leave for the next trip. (Remember, it’s never a bad thing to ‘miss’ something in a city or country – it means you have a built-in excuse to return on another trip soon!)
4. Booking: Now that I’ve got my itinerary more fleshed out I start to get things in writing – it’s time to book! HotWire.com is my favourite source for hotel bookings and I’ve had great luck with the hotels I’ve stayed at. Though you don’t know the exact name and address of your hotel when you hit ‘book’ you’re given a geographic area where it will be and can choose the star rating. They also give examples of recent hotels booked in the area and these are a great hint at what you’ll be getting. Everyone needs a little excitement and uncertainty in their lives so if you’ve been hesitant about trying it out give it a shot!
Once everything is booked it’s time to pack your bags and take off on a brand new adventure. 🙂
All this talk of vacations makes me want to start planning the next one right now! As I said, each trip comes together differently so if you have any tips or suggestions based on what works for you please feel free to share them in the comments below! In the meantime, happy travel planning!