I obviously like reading, writing, and making lists (yup, good thing I’m a teacher) and this lends itself well to planning a big trip. It does make me wonder how other people plan their trips.
I’ve come across a few different travel planning personalities over the years:
These are people like myself who might plan certain events down to the hour and research the best restaurants and places to go in case reservations need to be made. They are great with budgets and directions.
2. People Without a Care in the World
These people like to use that lovely Skyscanner.net feature to randomly find a plane ticket to anywhere in the world with a seat available at the last minute. They arrive in the new city and expect to find their lodgings once they get out of the airport. Generally these people are just out of college on an around the world trip or people who have a little extra money and aren’t afraid to pay up for last minute prices.
3. Go With the Flow-ers
These people bought their ticket in advance and may have booked their lodgings for the first night they arrive, but other than that they want to meet locals, and get a feel for things in the new city. I did this a few times while I was in college and I regret all of the things I didn’t get to see because I was going with the flow!
Now How Do I Plan?
Planning future travels is one of my favorite things to do. I don’t have cable TV in Venezuela, but while I’m visiting my family in Portland I love watching House Hunters International and really anything on the Travel Channel. I love to see how other people live and to learn about other cultures. This is what I do for fun and part of why I love my career as much as I do- because it is what I do everyday!
I usually start making my itinerary with a web search. If I am going to be somewhere for a while I really like to read blogs written by other expats. If I will just be visiting for a couple of weeks I like to find things on TripAdvisor and then do a search of my own to confirm that they are as cool as TA people say they are. I might also ask advice on the Thorn Tree Forum which is full of travelers who have been or who plan on going to the places I’m interested in.
Then I like to post my itinerary outline on Facebook and see if any of my friends have been there before. I most likely already have an idea of people I might want to tag, because if you are my friend and you posted some travel pics I have most likely already seen them all. I like doing things with my friends so I assume that I will like doing things that my friends can recommend to me.
At this point I usually look for a guidebook. If I am home I might check them out from a library. My favorite thing to do is to visit The Title Wave Used Bookstore and get super cheap guidebooks for only a dollar or two. I don’t care if they are a couple of years old because by the time they are printed the prices are already out of date anyway. Maps are usually pretty similar in most countries. Also, most museums and temples I want to visit have probably been around for a while too. And, by getting a cheap copy I don’t feel so guilty when I cut them up to go into my travel journal or scrapbooks.
Something that I’ve just started doing for the Bolivia and Peru trip is to find videos about places I will visit. Youtube is AMAZING for this! People love to make their own travel guide videos and sometimes you can even find National Geographic videos.
I also like downloading different apps such as metro apps and local travel guides for my iPhone and iPad. For my trip this summer I’m even planning on learning a little French via Duolingo.
Still, the best way to find out about a place is to go on Couchsurfing.com or to have a friend introduce you to a local who is already on the ground.
Despite all of this planning that I do, I fully admit that you can’t really know what to expect from a place until you arrive and see it with your own eyes.
Comment below: How type of planner are you? Do you agree that travel planning is half the fun?
I’m definitely a go with the flow-er! I hate researching too much into where I’m going, in favor of figuring out when I get there. I love feeling the heartbeat of the city!
All the power to you! I always admire the flow-ers, but I also get stressed out for them. For example, there was a guy who was trying to get a room in La Paz on NYE and my hostel turned him away because it was full… and so were nearly all of the other hostels when I check three days before him. I would go crazy!
I tried to be a bit of a go with the flow-ers! My stay in Uyuni, Bolivia was not booked ahead of time and I just about went crazy once I got there. I had to go to four different hostels/hotels before I got someone to give me a room. I think that if I were not on a tight schedule and I had a lot of money to work with that I wouldn’t be such a planner. However, since I usually only have vacation during peak travel times it would cost me more and it would be more difficult to get rooms where I want to go. It might also depend on where you are traveling too.
I getcha..I’ve been in that situation before, but for the most part it always works out. It’s definitely a risk!