I find planning vacations to be a therapeutic process, spiritual almost, but I know that most people find it hectic, stressful, and daunting. Planning a trip can be just as messy as traveling and we’ve all had our fair share of trips we’d rather not revisit, but the baby steps of the vacation of your dreams can be just as fun as feeling your feet in the sand, saying Bonjour to a hunky Parisian, and reliving each glorious detail years later through photographs.
Below are my favorite tips for the early stages of planning any trip. They don’t include budgeting, food concerns, or suggestions on how to pick up said hunky Frenchman, but they surely will get you warmed up in a different kind of way.
Consult your life list.
Picking a destination can seem like the hardest task in the world. There have been a million times you have said I’d love to do this and see that but so often those thoughts slip our mind when we finally start to entertain the idea of a trip. Keep track of your worldly desires and when the opportunity arises revisit it and let it be the guiding light for your next vacation.
Tell everyone you know.
I don’t mean proclaiming in the annoying, high-pitched “I’m going on vacation”, instead I’m encouraging you to reach out to people you know, ask questions, and get familiar with other peoples travel experience. You undoubtedly know someone who studied abroad in Prague, vacationed in Spain, or went on a safari back in 2007.
Reach out to people, the places, and the suggestions that flood in once you tell every single person that you know about your impending trip. You would be surprised by how many people have photos to share, cousins working abroad, and highlighted travel books lying around. These tips and connections are your lifeline to an unconventional trip.
Research the shit out of it.
I’m talking pouring over travel books in the aisles of Barnes and Noble, crunching numbers and plotting points on maps, and cross referencing all of the off the beaten path activities. You aren’t looking for 90% of the information you will come across, but that 10% is worth the work, plus it’s plain fun.
Become a map maven.
Ah maps. I’ve become quite fond of maps over the years and they are definitely a huge tool in my travel tool box. How else do you think you figure out what cities boarder France, and approximately how long it takes to get to each?
Track down every festival, must-see, and off the beaten path location.
I am not a tourist. In fact, I despise being identified as one (unless I’m dressing up for Halloween). In my opinion the best way to see the world is to be immersed in it and by looking for off the beaten path activities, authentic festivals, and a few must-see attractions you’ll find yourself living where you are visiting.
Fellow vagabonds what am I missing? What are your tried and true pre-planning tips?