I’ve had a number of readers ask me about vacation planning, particularly those trips overseas. Interesting question! I absolutely have a method, and I’m happy to share it with you today!
Vacation Planning: What Kind of Traveler are You?
I think there’s two kinds of travelers…those who like to be loose on trips, and just go with the flow each day. Then there’s the travelers who want to have every single minute scheduled out. I’m pretty must the poster child for the scheduled traveler. I’m happy to schedule unscheduled time…but there’s still a schedule. And probably an associated 12 Step Program…but I digress.
I’ve got 5 Steps for Vacation Planning, I’m curious to see how many of you plan like I do!
Planning the Perfect Vacation: Step #1
I make a list of all the major things I want to do or see. I don’t worry about how long the list is, I just make a list. My list can come from many sources: previous travel, travel blogs, friends, family, social media….I often research many sources just to create my initial list. If I’m traveling with my husband, or friends, I include them in Step #1 for sure!
I love to plan travel and trips with others, and I am very conscious of making sure that everyone’s travel goals are addressed in some way! I’m a benevolent dictator, y’all. I recently wrote a post about traveling to Italy with teens, which required a teensy bit of dictatorship, but also some democracy! Y’all might want to check out.
As a side note, I find Pinterest an excellent tool for “filing” my travel wish list. You can follow me on Pinterest by clicking here, by the way! I have several Boards for countries in Europe, places in the US, and other great travel-related pins!
Organize Your Travel: Step #2
The Glorious Spreadsheet. I love a good spreadsheet. Luvvvvv! My travel spreadsheet has the days of the week at the top, and then along the left side Breakfast, Morning, Lunch, Afternoon, Cocktails, Dinner, Evening. Yes, you read that right. I’m gonna eat all the meals, I’m gonna see all the things. I’m going to be totally exhausted every single night and sleep like a dead person, and every day I’m going to do it all again. I truly want to do ALL the things on all the trips.
But again, I do not insist that all my travel companions adhere to the spreadsheet plan. And sometimes I don’t either. Rain, long lines, heat, and generally tired feet can derail the daily plan. And that’s totally OK. If I miss seeing a site, that’s a GREAT reason to plan a return trip!
Efficient Travel is FUN Travel: Step #3
I start plugging in my list to my spreadsheet, minding information like opening and closing times, etc. One aspect of scheduling I am very strict with myself about is trying to group activities geographically. Not only do I get cranky when I feel like I’m zig zagging around a city, it’s also a big waste of time.
Variety is the Spice of Life: Step #4
I try to balance several different kinds of activities each day. For example, it’s no fun to fill one whole day with nothing but museums. Throw in a church, a street market, some shopping, a historic home into the mix, and the day is much more interesting.
Alone Time is OK Too!: Step #5
I do not believe in mandatory All-Skates. Remember our roller-rink days, readers who are close to my age…all-skate was when we ALL had to get out on the rink and skate together. Well, I don’t believe in All-Skate trips. I love a good plan, but the plan is not mandatory for all participants. I’m gonna follow the plan, because I made the plan and I love my plan, but my travel companions certainly don’t have to.
I’m happy to split up, and reconvene over a meal or an adult beverage at the end of the day, no problem. See…benevolent dictator. Vacation Planning with flexibility!
I don’t like for friends to feel overwhelmed when they are planning travel! Let me help you! One way is to download my FREE Travel Planning Checklist. This will help you think through all the details, particularly when traveling overseas, which feels confusing to many people! Just click on the image below to get your FREE Travel Planning Guide and Check List!
Summer is coming, and we WILL start traveling again! Let the Vacation Planning commence!
Tags: Domestic Travel | Overseas Travel | Travel | Travel Challenges | travel planning | Travel with Kids
Great tips! I like to start itinerary planning by looking at guidebooks at the book store. I grab several off the shelf, browse in the store and buy my favorite which is usually Rick Steve’s. AAA (I’m a member) has free US tour books and reasonably priced foreign ones. I can put sticky notes, tabs, high light, etc. Trip Advisor is helpful, too.
Carol, thank you for sharing YOUR process! My fantasy is to travel WITH Rick Steves!!! LOL!!!
Mary! This was fun to read. I am more of a go with the flow traveler, but I still found step #1 to be something I sometimes overlook! Great reminder to check in with what everyone in the group wants to see. 🙂
Thanks so much Logan!!!
I love this post!!
You are my very favorite travel buddy!
This sounds very much like my process, down to the daily meal planning and itinerary. I have a step 1A. Once I get the major locations and/or events selected, I plan our hotel spot so that I can consider how we will get to neighborhoods or take day trips, especially on longer trips. I love learning public transportation in major cities, so that’s almost always on my step #2.
Jennifer, thank you for sharing this important step!!! Yes…adding in where to stay is really worth thinking about ahead of time, for sure! In fact, that’s a big point I make in my FREE NYC Travel Guide. Worst thing on a trip is to end a really busy day, and be on the other side of the world from your hotel or apartment!!!!
Love this! I like some structure with flexibility built in, so this is perfect. I’ll definitely be utilizing some of these when planning my next getaway 🙂
Kelsey, thanks so much for your comment! Glad my post was helpful! Come back often! xoxo
I am more of a go with the flow kind of traveler. I like to have the hotel set up but then let the time there just unfold.
That’s a totally awesome way to travel…leaves you open to experience whatever comes your way!
And I travel JUST like you. Plan it all out…mix the day up….keep in the same area if possible…let others wander as they wish and reconnect later. I agree that planning transportation is a big piece of my puzzle in a place I don’t know…otherwise I just grab an Uber or take the Subway and I’m good to go. Want to make the most of my time when I’m traveling so a schedule is a must! : )
THIS is why we are friends!!!! xoxo
Great post! I’m somewhere in the middle between meticulously planning and being a wanderer just in case I missed anything in my initial research. I think I might put some of these tips to the test when I plan my next trip! ♡
Antonio, I am so glad my post was helpful! Happy and Safe travels!