Friday, September 20, 2019

Travel Planning

I'm big on planning. I love planning out my week, setting goals, planning meals out, planning how to tackle projects, you name it.  I love taking a big problem and breaking it down and ironing out every little detail.  So when it comes to planning trips, I am 100% in my element.  I love researching our
flights, finding the cutest little b&b's, and charting our course for maximum fun.  I figure, our time on our travel adventure is so precious, that we ought to make the most of every opportunity we have!

I love it so much that sometimes I forget that other people aren't as weirdly obsessed with planning as I am, and actually find trip planning to be a chore (*gasp!*) and kind of overwhelming.

So I've decided to put together a few habits that I have for trip planning that kind of sums up my process as I prepare for an away from home excursion!

1. Choose your Destination and Chart your Course

Where do you want to go, and what are the main things you want to see?

I've really gotten to be a pro at this one with the myriad of wedding planning trips we've taken in the last few years.  We always kind of knew our destination was Washington/Portland, but in arranging various meetings with people all over between states, and also trying to shoehorn in fun sightseeing, sometimes trying to make everything fit in the right way was a nightmare.

Thankfully if your trip is all for fun and not planning a life-changing event, you can make your points of interest line up in a way that is the most convenient for your travel pattern!  If you are attempting to plan destination wedding planning trips, well maybe I will make a separate post for tips for that!

Figure out what main places you'd like to hit, and roughly plan out your days with main points, like:

  • Day 1: Fly to Portland  
  • Day 2: Hike Columbia River Gorge
  • Day 3: Explore City of Portland
  • Day 4: Cannon Beach Day Trip
  • Day 5: Leave Portland, drive to Mt. St Helens
  • Day 6: Explore Mt. St Helens
  • Day 7: Drive to Seattle, Evening in the City
  • Day 8: Fly home from Seattle

2. Set up Your Accommodations 

I would say this is one of my favorite parts, but literally every part of trip planning is my favorite. 

....But this is one of my favorite parts! 

Generally, I'll use Airbnb or just scour the areas we want to go on google earth, looking for cute little bed and breakfasts or adorable airbnb's.  For our Maine and Redwoods trips we stayed in two wonderful bed and breakfasts that served breakfast, and they were so much fun.  On some of our wedding planning trips we were a little more economical when possible, and bought groceries to make meals in our airbnb's for some meals, but there is something special about meals at the bed and breakfasts.  For our redwoods trip especially, I loved the sense of community that there was at the dinners at the Inn.  They had a chef in house, and all the guests would sit at a table together — you really got to know some of the other travelers and their backstory, which was really special we thought.  

Anyways, even though it's silly, I'm super particular about choosing our accommodations, but I think it makes it that much more special!  I tend to stay away from the big chain hotels (airbnb's are usually cheaper anyways), because I'd rather stay somewhere unique, but we've definitely done the Hampton Inn thing too, and that's all good! 

Once you've picked some good options for accommodations, book your hotels, car and airfare!

3. A Note on Airfare

Side note, in choosing flights we almost always leave on the earliest flight there, and the latest one going back to get the most out of our trip.  I totally get the benefits of not doing this, but I'd rather get something out of the day we fly out than fly out just to go right to bed once we get there. 

4. Plan out some specifics and options, but leave room for spontaneity!

Lastly, Andrew and I are total foodies, so we love to find fun places to eat whenever we are traveling.  Once we've chosen our accommodations, I'll generally yelp or google earth scour until we find some places that are in our price range and also look tasty!  We'll come up with a handful of options so that on the day we're not wasting time looking things up, but we still don't feel like we've shoehorned ourselves in to one thing. 

I'll do the same thing with experiences.  On our Maine trip we did a combination of lead tours, shows and more open-ended hiking, and on trips that are mainly to National Parks, I'll plot out a whole list of areas or hikes I think we might be able to handle in a given day.  

Usually I'll map out all these ideas on a digital calendar so I can move the blocks around, and plan out how much driving is in between our events. 

Then typically, I'll type up an itinerary for our trip and email it to myself and a family member with the flight numbers and things!

I'm super excited about our next trip this fall, as we're going to Arizona for a long weekend to see Andrew's best man get married!  I have only been to Arizona once, and it was a SUPER short trip (like, less than a day), so it will be awesome to spend a few days there, see their beautiful wedding ♥, and maybe get to hike a little at Saguaro National Park.  We just picked our accommodations, and I am definitely looking forward to the southwest vibes!

Until Next Time, 

— The Lovely Red Fox

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