Friday, January 22, 2016

How to plan your next big trip

When I posted my recent travel series from the Southwest USA, I got a lot of comments saying that it was amazing that we saw so much of the country in only 15 days. I kept replying how planing the trip was the key and that's how we managed to see so much in the end. This got me thinking about travel planing and organizing so I decided to write a separate post on this subject.


When you think about it, there is a lot of time in the day. Especially when you are free while traveling. So there is the possibility to do a lot, If you just plan ahead. Of course it should be said right away, that planing shouldn't take away from the enjoyment of traveling, but rather it should be an enhancement of it.

How to plan your nextbig trip

 

Brainstorm destinations

If you want to make a big trip to a new place you should first start out by exploring what is there to see and put it on a map or word document. Brainstorm suggestions with your co travelers. Remember: there are no wrong answers in brainstorming. Everything gets jumbeld up here, and later on you can mix and match, choose and leave out, and basically see what you will have time for.


Enjoying the moment

This is really important. You can cram a lot of places into one day of travel, but if you will end up just hopping from one place to the other, you won't really get to enjoy the journey. For example: We drove up the Pacific Coast Highway of California in two days (from Santa Monica to San Francisco). Each day consisted of cca 4 hours of driving, while the rest was spent on enjoying the places we visited.


Printed travel guides vs. Online guides

This will be the starting point of your planing. You can use both travel guides and online guides (like Wiki Travel and similar sites). I like a combo of both. Travel guides are handy to have when you are in remote places without internet and need to look something up, or if you are inside the city and need a map. I like using Lonely Guide and Eyewitness Guides. They are usually the most elaborate ones. You have to make sure to get the latest edition when it comes to travel guidebooks. I look online as well, so that I have everything checked again. I like to have a book and read it. It's nice to have all important information collected in one place, and it gets me excited about making the trip.


Using Google Maps

I have written about Google Maps previously in my post on Travel Apps you need for your Next Trip. I mentioned that I use the app for a lot of things. When it comes to planing I use it to see the distances between places of course, but I also like to zoom into the satellite map and use the street view to see what a place actually looks like. Often times you will find over hyped stories about places and when you see what they actually look like you get a bit disappointed.  Another really useful thing about the satellite view of Google Maps is that you can see what's around a particular spot and maybe find something that interests you as well.



How we planed our USA trip

I started out by getting Lonely Planet guides for California and Southwest USA (which covered Nevada and Arizona). I mapped out our journey. We needed to figure out how many days we would need in each city and in which order we should visit them. Since our plane landed in LAX we would start from Santa Monica, but needed to come back here in the end for the plane back home. So it was decided pretty early on that we would start our road trip right away, and explore LA and Santa Monica in the last 4 days, so that we would be in the city for our plane back home, and not rush through the desert to make it to the plane on time.

I started writing an itinerary for each day. The key is to figure out how to get from one place to the other. Since we rented a car at LAX we had the luxury to get someplace fast. I started by opening up google maps and basically getting GPS information for each place so that we could have it printed out for our car. Inside a word document I wrote for each day, at what time of day we should start our journey and how long it would take us from one place to the other. I also reserved back-ups in case one thing didn't plan out. Yes, I like to be prepared. It took some time, but after a month or so we had everything covered. (Of course not each day was spent on planing the trip)


Make a travel binder


I know, I know, this sounds like I'm sending out everybody to craft stores and back to school, but hear me out. When you make a big trip you need to have all information in one place. For our USA trip I kept a binder with our 15 page itinerary for each day and confirmations for plane tickets, car rental, motel, hotel and AirBnb bookings, as well as odds and ends. We kept the binder in the car, and it was a handy tool for everybody.



Start early and sleep on it

I always like to look ahead and be prepared, so I plan out trips early on. This gives me the advantage to really look around options and sleep on things to shape them up and make them personal. Planing a trip gets me excited for traveling, and in that spirit I leave you off, for your next adventure!

34 comments:

  1. Great advice for travelers... well done!

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  2. This is all very good advise for people making travel trips. Love your accomanying photographs

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    1. Thanks Margaret, I hope this can be of use. I'm relying on these methods each time.

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  3. Excellent advice. Your supporting photos make us want to plan a trip so we can pack our bags and get going. Nice job!

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  4. no travels for me in the near future. loved the seaside lighthouse scene!

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  5. using google maps is something I do any time i am going somewhere i have not been before. even in our town, i do the address, then the ride down the street to see what it looks like and what is close. we have heavy traffic and it pays to know what I am looking for. we don't travel at all but i did enjoy all your photos.

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  6. You plan like I plan! Only most of our family vacation planning was before smart phones so I printed everything.

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  7. This is great Mersad! We are big on planning ahead and there are lots of helps out there. When you've never been somewhere it's a little scary that you will miss something that you will find out about later and regret not seeing (because you'll never get to go back!) Your trip was awesome! It looks like you did everything right. I was impressed.

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  8. Weise Tips und genauso machen wir das auch mit dem Brainstorming. Und bloß nicht zuviel Stress, dass man von nichts mehr was mitbekommt. Wir haben auch die Erfahrung gemacht, dass sich manche Dinge vor Ort einfach ergeben. Am besten ist aber, wenn man frei und ohne organisierte Reisegruppe unterwegs ist und sich seinen eigenen Ablauf planen kann. Das sind immer die schönsten Reisen, weil sie genau zu einem passen! GlG Anne

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    1. Organisierete Reisegruppen sind der pure horror für mich. Da fliegt ja die Wanderlust gleich als erstes aus dem Fenster. Ich stimme Dir komplett zu.

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  9. A great post and great information!! Thanks for sharing, Mersad! I'm unable to travel as I did in the past, but I'm putting a copy of your post in my travel book so I will have quick access to it for my next trip!! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!! Enjoy!!

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  10. Great tips! I'm a mixture of good planning and leaving room for spontaneity.

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    1. That's a pretty good way of looking at. Plans fail, and it's not the worst thing in the world. Spontaneity has to be there as well.

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  11. Thanks for the tips! Where's your next trip going to be?

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  12. You do a fantastic job of trip planning for sure. I always enjoy you travel photos.

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  13. Good advice--- And if you know people who have been there, consulting them will help you make choices. Very good Mersad.

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  14. Great tips! I love Google Maps. Ironically someone in our extended family recently passed away. We were all joking how we can see him reading a book on the front porch on Google Maps. :-)

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  15. You've got planning trips down to a fine art because your posts from your trips are so well thought out and each photograph is perfect. I always enjoy reading of your adventures and now I realize how much planning you put into your travel....

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    1. Thank you Nancy. We try to keep it casual for small trips, but these bigger ones usually end up being a bit more prepared. I don't like tourist groups and guides. I want to discover a place I'm visiting for myself.

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  16. Your photos are always so gorgeous, Mersad, and you always offer such great tips. Thank you for all you share!

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  17. Great travel tips! With the internet and social media, there is an incredible amount of travel info. at your fingertips!

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    1. Yes. Bloggers and other travelers have really opened the door on this.

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  18. Excellent advice, Mersad! That is exactly how we planned our trip to UK & Europe in 2010.

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  19. Good suggestions Mersad.
    I do the same, like you, I want to have all sceduled and under control

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  20. Good tips, thanks. This is a very interesting case.

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  21. Great advice and so clearly written. We're in the midst of planning for a trip in July and are doing much the same as you've advised.

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  22. Good advice! I'm a big fan of finding the balance between travel planning and traveling spontaneously. I do tons of research and notemaking, and then use about half of it, but always have it to fall back on. :) I love the landscape shot with the mountains in the background, grass in the foreground.. where is that taken?

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  23. Good advice! I'm a big fan of finding the balance between travel planning and traveling spontaneously. I do tons of research and notemaking, and then use about half of it, but always have it to fall back on. :) I love the landscape shot with the mountains in the background, grass in the foreground.. where is that taken?

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  24. Hello Mersad, I actually enjoy the trip planning almost as much as the trip! I google, map, plan the day, sightseeing and make reservations as if I were a travel agent. I did see you are using a few websites that are new for me. I will check them out next time. Thanks for the tips and post. Your photos are awesome. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

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  25. You plan like me. I do build in "free time" in major cities so we can have last minute choices and some flexibility. Also, we spend so much time in each place that we usually leave a free day for catch up on stuff we may have missed. I have tried being more carefree a few times and found the trip didn't go as well. However for all the planning, once I'm there, I'm totally in the moment and enjoying the experience. Very good post!

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  26. This is some great advice (and really nice photos). We're heading to Germany and Switzerland this fall and I will surely use some of the information you gave to plan our trip.

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  27. These are some really great suggestions Mersad! My husband is often a fly by the seat of his pants kind of guy, but I like to plan. When we go somewhere, I plan...there is usually a file folder with all the information in it and then some.

    Thanks for sharing with us at Photo Friday!

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  28. Well done! Glad you used the guides and did not rely exclusively on Google Maps which sometimes takes you on strange roads. It has told me to go over steep and rutted roads and even directed me onto a private lane that had a gate across it!

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