5 Tips on How to Plan a Trip
Planning a trip often contains an element of the unknown. Sometimes you know exactly where you want to go and what you want to do. But what do you do when you don’t know how to plan a trip or where to start? Here are 5 tips to get you focused and on your way to the best vacation ever!
1. Ask your friends and colleagues
This seems like common sense, but it’s the simplest way to find the best places to visit, stay and eat in a particular location and learn about what may work and what may not. Learn from someone else’s mistakes.
Just this week, I was talking to some friends who were aghast that I’ve never visited California. In a matter of moments my two friends started spouting off things to do and places to visit and even offered to create an itinerary for my family vacation. Now, I’m planning a summer road trip that I know will be a success because I’m not striking out on my own.
2. Do plenty of research
Browse bookstores, Google everything, watch travel shows on television, make phone calls, send emails. For me, Twitter becomes my best friend. I’ve sent emails to places that went without reply. Sometimes no one answers the phone or returns my call. In the current world of online connectivity, many companies have entire positions dedicated to maintaining an online presence and developing their brand online. When I travel, I follow cities, visitor bureaus, sometimes even whole countries, companies, museums, attractions, restaurants, and anything else I can find on Facebook and Twitter. Ask questions. Ask for advice. If they value online customer service, they will answer.
Tip: If you want to reach out to an organization via Facebook, often they will have a Message button in the bottom right corner of the photo on their main page. On Twitter, you can send a Tweet to them using their handle (e.g. @HiltonHotels) or try sending a direct message.
Follow this Twitter account. The people behind @HiltonSuggests are amazing! I’ve asked questions and looked for advice and have received tweets back from them within minutes, even if only to say that they are researching my question for the best answer. They say about themselves, “Exploring a new city and looking for insider tips? We’re here to help! We’re @HiltonWorldwide tweeps sharing our favorite travel suggestions.”
4. Begin with the end in mind
It’s a principle that works in your business, and it will work for your travel as well. What do you need out of your trip? Do you want to explore a location you’ve never visited? Is your trip limited to your current frequent flier miles? Are you taking a road trip for a certain amount of time?
We have a goal to visit as many states as possible, so any new trip always incorporates ways to accomplish that. A couple of years ago we wanted to visit a few new states in a one-week period. We started by drawing a circle on a map to determine how far we could go. While I wanted to make it to Yellowstone, Washington D.C., and Chicago, I knew that it wouldn’t make for an ideal trip. Instead, we planned a wonderful trip that included four states and allowed us to take time and enjoy the trip.
5. You won’t get everything out of this trip
Understand that and embrace it. Unless you have unlimited time to explore an area (and if you do, please contact me — I want to know how you pull that off), you won’t get to do everything you’ve dreamed about. It’s OK — that opens the door for a repeat trip. A vacation or trip is meant to make your life better, provide relaxation, and expand your experiences. Don’t allow it to be ruined by stress, disappointment, or details that are inconsequential in the big picture. You deserve to get away.
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