The start of a great trip is in planning. In fact the planning is a major part of the fun. So make sure you do not miss out on this important part of your adventure. Here are some of the steps and tools that we use when we do our planning.
What is your travel style?
It has taken Suzannah and I quite a long time to define our travel style – partly because we have rather different travel styles. (I want to go to the wild places and she wants an ensuite bathroom!) So here is our style:
We like the little places.
We would prefer to spend a little longer in one place rather than see everything.
We like to use local transport and walk if we can.
We love B&Bs and small hotels where someone really cares.
Sometimes we like a bit of luxury.
Sometimes we want to test our comfort zone! (or really Suzannah’s comfort zone!)
We don’t really mind if things go wrong occasionally because that is when the we get the best stories.
We have to agree on the plan because if one of us is not sure, it is not the right plan yet (and yes we do go through a lot of plan revisions).
It starts with an idea.
Perhaps it is “I want to see Machu Picchu” or “I want to walk on the Great Wall”. The important thing to remember about this stage is that you have not got a clue what you are talking about. You just have to dive in and start learning. Start Googling, following links and see what you find.
Look at the tours
The companies that put tours together have done a lot of work and it is often very tempting to say “Couldn’t we just do it the easy way for once?”. Get that temptation behind you and start picking out the bits that you really want to do and drop the rest. It is about now that you will have version 1 of the plan
Look for the little places and the fun stuff and be specific
The internet is an amazing tool for travellers but one of the problems is that search findings will nearly always start with the big places, the big hotels and the packaged products. The best way around this is try to be specific. So if you want to stay in a B&B, use the filters on TripAdvisor or booking.com to specify what you want. If you want to walk on the Great Wall, Google B&B by the Great Wall. If you want a canal view in Venice, that is what you search for. You will be amazed at how it changes the results.
Most places have what we call “holding pens for tourists”. These are where they bus people in and hold them there. Perhaps our favourite example is St Marks Square in Venice, just move a few yards in any direction and you loose 90% of the people and the coffee is half the price!
Maps are a great way around this, just – scroll across. Sometimes it is just a few yards, sometimes it may take a few miles but you will start to find the fun stuff
Sometimes you need to forget the geography and look for things to do. Gardens, dolphins, steam trains, kayaking, you know what makes you smile, so put it into the plan.
Start joining the dots
If you have not found Rome2Rio yet, this is the time to download the app because at the moment you just have lots of pieces and Rome2Rio will tell you if you need a bus, a plane, a boat or a car to join them together. Don’t to be afraid to change the order of things, move it back or forward a few days or even reverse the plan completely. You will be amazed how much money this can save!
So go on, start dreaming and planning – enjoy!
Here are some of our favourite resources to play with;