I love trip planning.
It combines so many things I enjoy — imagination, research, bargain hunting, learning, curiosity…
I also know it’s not everybody’s thing.
And we’ve planned a trip that is a bit on the complicated side — there are a lot of moving parts! Doing what we’re doing is not the same as calling a travel agent or showing up at the Marriott.
So in addition to the basic tips such as “start early” and “stay organized,” I’d also offer these ones:
- Cater the trip planning (not just the trip plan) to the people involved. If you enjoy the planning, like Genevieve and Rebecca do, and those same people have time to devote to the process (because it does take lots of time), then a complex itinerary might be OK for you. If your capacity for and enjoyment of the planning process is more limited than ours, I’d suggest going for something more straightforward. And don’t expect those who don’t enjoy trip details to get involved in the planning. But in our house, the deal is that if you don’t plan, you also don’t complain. We’ll see how that goes.
- It’s not all or nothing. We made sure some parts of our trip were easy to plan (e.g. by working through a tour company in Vietnam) while other parts took longer (e.g. setting up home exchanges). It’s often a trade-off between time and money.
- The last couple of weeks before leaving are likely to be awful, no matter how organized you are. (As I write this, we leave in 18 days). The to-do lists are long and growing…so plan for that too.
As a kid embarking on road trips to Florida, my parents used to say, “The vacation starts in our driveway when we get in the car!” For me, it starts when the first travel guides arrive from the library…