How do you plan your trip?

How do you plan your trip?

There is NO shortage of places to go, but how does one decide?   Many people will cautiously and smartly look at their budget and time available. Or they look to see what everyone else wants to do and go along.  Or they simply get overwhelmed or discouraged and end up staying home. Not me! My "go to"  decision maker is to look inside and get in touch with what I'm feeling.  Sometimes my soul is needing a well deserved chill and a beach. Other times, I yearn for a Europe history and culture tour.  Then along comes the "I want to see this before I die and I can't wait" moment.  In that one, I ended up in the Maasai Mara in Africa.

When asked about travel in general, I emphasize that there is no right or wrong place to go.  One destination is not inherently more "cool" than the next.  Five star does not necessarily provide a better experience than camping.  It's what fits for you, now, in this point in time.  Hence, I encourage everyone to just go.  Go to Vegas...go to Alaska....go to Bali...just go and experience something new!  I believe that our brains and bodies need new experiences to grow and develop.  If not we become old curmudgeons.

After I get all riled up about a place, I check the weather.  I google when is the best time to go.  And I usually DON'T go then because of crowds.  I will go at the beginning or end of the time it says.  It's called "shoulder season."  Prices are always better and I just hate standing in long lines for the must see monuments.  Then I look to airfare as most my trips are not driving.  I use Kayak and have never gone wrong unless I know Southwest flies there as they aren't listed on most of the online sites.  Kayak will give me the best deals and can sort by the fastest and most direct way to go.  I will toss around the times vs money quandary for awhile and make a decision.

Then I decide what kind of experience I want.  Would it be fun to AirBnB it and act like a local?  Or is room service and a cool hotel bar calling my name?  Maybe a tour or cruise is the way to go and ditch making all the logistical plans.  Usually a clear winner will emerge and I book something.  And always with travel insurance.  I've never had to use it but for a small price, I feel a little safer in case something comes up.

Now by this time, I'm excited and this trip is taking over my brain.  This is a lot of the fun for me.  Visualizing myself in this destination.  I'm thinking about packing and weather appropriate clothes. And shoes.  Need good shoes.  For the next weeks or months, I'm day dreaming and reading everything I can about where to go and what to do. I will hit the Tourist Bureau sites to see if there are any freebies or coupons.  I will download apps like Citymapper, Translator, World Clock and Units Plus.  And I have some fun phone camera apps.  If there is time,
I try to bone up on the history of the place and do's and don'ts about the culture. I find out if there are any movies that have been filmed in the area or that are about the destination.  Sometimes, I'll download a good audiobook that may bring me closer to understanding the culture or history.  I love historical fiction novels.  When I arrive I will Yelp good restaurants in the area and if it's safe to walk around.
For me, travel is about immersion, having fun, staying open and soaking it all in.  And again, there are no right or wrongs.  Go about it your own way and get out of it whatever you want.  But go. Just go.

Sharna Law, CEO of En Route Travelware

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