Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Wanderlust Librarian | Tips for Trip Planning

As a young traveler, I was obsessed with planning things down to the last detail: getting somewhere at JUST the perfect time, sleeping from X hour to X hour, visiting things in the "correct" (to me) order, eating at a certain place on a certain day...

Needless to say, this method of trip planning never worked out. In fact, if only one thing went wrong, it would throw a wrench in things and stress me out. This method also stresses out any travel companions. Nobody is happy.  This type of trip planning never worked out... ever.

Since I adopted a lot of these tips, things have (for the most part) worked out pretty well. I definitely haven't stressed out on trips and my travel companions are happy, too! 

Please keep this one mantra in mind:

There is no perfect way to plan any trip.

This mantra comes from years of planning and going on trips with other people (including family). Here are some helpful tips I'd like to share.  

  • Have a meeting with all of your travel companions and get on the same page (or at least a respectful understanding) about the trip expectations. If you and your travel companions are hindered by distance and time, consider using a free group chat program like Google + to plan. Negative feelings during a trip are never a good thing.

  • Have everyone make a list of the top 10 things they want to do on their trip. Talk about it at the meeting. At some points, the lists will have the same items. If not, plan a day to break up the group and then get together to talk about your adventures! Keep in mind, it's also okay to break away from the pack and go solo if nobody is interested in going where you want to go.

  • Do your research. When looking for things to do in Europe or Asia, try a book by Rick Steves! He has a lot of helpful information. Traveling in the United States? The library carries a lot of Frommer's Guides for different states and cities! 

  • Make sure you are aware of operating hours for places you want to visit during the time you'll be in town.  There's nothing worse than arriving somewhere just to find out it's closed or getting ready to close. 

  • Have at least one point person to help keep vital travel items together: reservation numbers for hotels and airline reservations, vital phone numbers, list of things that the group discussed, hours of operation for places, tickets for events, list of restaurants that the group talked about.  This person is not in charge of holding things like passports or IDs, just vital trip information! I like making a binder to keep these things together. I usually leave it out where any companion can take a peek at it. 

  • Something will always go wrong. It's the way of the world. Have a couple of contingency plans at the ready in case  when something goes wrong. 

  • When something goes wrong, don't freak out. You have a contingency plan, remember? Get the group together and talk about what you all would like to do based on that plan. It's all about compromising! 

  • Relax. Vacation is about having a good time, right? You're away from home! You're with friends, family or both! 

Some of the best memories you can take away from a trip are usually the little things. Take some time to enjoy the experience. Traveling should always be about learning and seeing new things. 

Adventure is out there (with good planning and a level head!)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the good ideas, Rena. I'm taking a trip with 2 sisters and my daughter, and we will meet up with several cousins. Planning the trip and activities in advance will save a lot of time for fun later.