[Find the other parts here: 2, 3, 4]
Rob and I are counting down until vacation!! Just less than a month away until we head out of town for a week out West hiking the trails of Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks.
While I admire my friends who can take spontaneous trips without a specific itinerary, that's not how I roll. Rob's and my vacation philosophy is to go, go, go and to see as much as we can because it may be the only time we're there. (a.k.a., we don't like to waste time looking for a hotel, backtracking as we drive, or paying an arm and a leg for things that could be cheaper.) And, therefore we need a plan. Don't get me wrong... we're definitely flexible with our plan and are willing to make adjustments if something better comes up or if we're over our heads. But, we start with a plan.
I'd love to share some of my tried and true tips for trip planning... This will be the first of a four-part series. Even if you're an on-the-fly traveler, there may be a tip or two that you can use, too.
The grand plan (aka always a work in progress).
When we start really planning for a trip, I start an Evernote document (I've also used Google Docs in the past) to keep track of the ideas. I really like Evernote because I can access it and edit it from my phone and without an internet connection which can come in handy mid-trip.
So, what do I write in my grand plan?
- Keep an updated summary at the top, so I have a quick reference where we're staying and the main activity for each day.
- Organize the document with headings for each day, like Day One: Saturday June 22. The activities under each day are just ideas and often get moved from day to day, especially in the beginning... Maybe the Angel's Landing hike works better on Wednesday instead of Monday...
- Add web links wherever I can so that I can reference the information later to see more details, find contact information, check prices, etc.
- Add timing notes as I see fit. Especially for driving times between places or mileage/estimated times for hikes... It's helpful when planning other activities to know that the drive from Las Vegas to Springdale is 2 hours and 40 minutes or that the Navajo Loop Trail is 3.5 miles round-trip and takes 1-3 hours.
- Record any ideas that seem neat, even if there may not be enough time to accomplish them all. While on the trip, we usually sit down each night to make the final decisions of what we want to do.
- Make notes about any tips and hints that I've read about each activity... Don't want to forget to "lace your shoes tightly on the return to prevent your toes from constantly jamming into the end of your shoes" when we're hiking to Observation Point. Such a little thing could make a really big difference in how much we enjoy each activity.
- Keep a list of local, can't miss restaurants as well as lists of great places to watch the sunrise/sunset. These don't necessarily have to be planned in the itinerary, but will be great to reference when we're driving around town starving because we're not sure where to eat.
Do you travel with a set schedule planned in advance, or are you more spontaneous than me?