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
Enjoying the moment
Printed travel guides vs. Online guidesWiki 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 MapsTravel 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 tripI 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.