Where do I start? Do I use a travel advisor? Should I buy this guide or that guide? Do I need to know the language? There are so many questions surrounding a trip that sometimes it seems daunting.
Planning for a trip to us is almost the best part. Obviously, the trip itself along with the memories created are what matter most. However, we see preparing for a trip as a way to not only build the excitement but also to give the tools to make it an even better experience.
Here’s how it works for us… Once we’ve decided on the where, we began to put together a folder for which to put any and all research or documents. Some folks use Tripit or other online tools (we do as well), however having that folder around helps us stay central with everything in our opinion. A combination of tangible and online tools makes for an even better scenario!
Below is an example of what we do.
My favourite part of a trip is the online searches – specifically places like Trip Advisor as this provides peer to peer knowledge of others who’ve been there; done that.(see my reviews on there as I do many).
There’s also guide books (my favourites are Lonely Planet, Fodor’s and Rick Steeves) and learning the basics of the language. This all helps create an appreciation that goes deeper than buying a ticket, hopping on a plane and heading out.
With your local bookstore and the online resources, you can spend a few hours and turn a vacation into a travel experience! I’ve always said, travelling vs vacationing is very different. One is more about what you get from it where the other is more about what you put in to the experience.
Neither is wrong – it’s just a question of, what do you want? What are you looking for? We prefer to step out of the norm and meet the locals, see it from their eyes and learn enough of the language to show that we care and want to learn about who they are and what makes them and their culture tick. Locals appreciate that so much.
Our most recent trip to Paris and Italy for example, saw 2 years of research and planning. Along with the help of a travel advisor, Sheena Murphy from Sell Off Vacations, together we created a custom trip fitted to what we wanted to do with a balance of vacationing and travelling.
We purchased handfuls of books, researched each town, train times, went through 3-4 drafts for our itinerary, enrolled in an Italian Language course at Lambton College and even had an Italian themed Dinner Party! It made the journey towards the trip an experience itself!
Here’s a quick shot of just some of the books we’ve used/read/are reading!
So really, it’s personal preference, when it comes to preparing for a trip. My challenge is this, make one small change, whether it’s learning a bit of the language (Busuu, Duolingo, etc) or reading through a lonely planet guidebook that has maps, colourful pages and everything you need to know – I promise, it will make the experience of your trip that much more fulfilling!
Research and planning for your trip gives you a much deeper appreciation and understanding of where you are going and ensures you know more, see more, experience more and sometimes helps keep you out of bad situations because you’ve prepared properly.
Again, this blogging thing is new to us so please give us active feedback on what you’d like to see, hear or read in later blogs 🙂
The Antle Family