My husband and I have been planning for an upcoming road trip. My husband loves the challenge of the planning almost as much as he loves traveling. I think many people don’t take big trips like this because they don’t know where to start when planning a trip or feel so overwhelmed at the thought of trying to do this without a travel agent. So I thought I would share the process that we go through when planning a big trip and maybe it might help some people or someone might have a suggestion for us to make our planning easier. Please feel free to send your suggestions if you have any to add.
1. Research the places that we want to see and make a list of the places with notes of what we want to do there. Using Google and library books work well for this research.
2. Plan the dates of the trip and make spreadsheet. I make a column for the day of the week (this is helpful when looking at hotel rates), date, location, lodging, and notes (for confirmation #, recreation plans).
3. Using a pencil (my husband works with the paper copy) and I use the computer spreadsheet, we decide how long it will take to get to each place and where we may need to stop for the night. This can be adjusted as needed.
4. If we want to spend more than one night at this stopping place, we pencil in the town on the spreadsheet for each day.
5. We continue planning the towns until we have planned all of the places. Sometimes this may change when we are looking for lodging. Some places may not have available rooms or may cost more than we want to spend.
6. Then we go back to look for lodging at each of those places by using Kayak, Priceline, Hotels.com, Booking.com, or even the tourism web site for those locations. Sometimes calling the lodging directly can get us a cheaper price than the other booking sites and sometimes the lodging is sold out but the booking sites bought a block of rooms that may be available. Once I make a reservation, I ask to get an email confirmation or a confirmation number over the phone. All of this is written on the spreadsheet.
7. As we discuss things we want to do in each place, I make sure I note it down so we don’t forget to do anything we want to do.
8. After we stay there, I rate each lodging with a 1, 2, or 3 meaning 1 is the worst, 2 is okay, and 3 is really liked. This is a great reference in case we return to this area in the future.
How do you plan for your trips? Please share!