Trip Planning 101

Who said travel was easy? I guess if you are Donald Trump,  maybe you only need to say Mar-A-Lago and voilà you are there. For the rest of us, some planning is involved to get the most out of our time and money.

I travel differently now than when I was younger.  Not in the method or needs I require, more I realized I have limited vacation days and funds to get where I want to go. There may not be a “next time”.

This change stems from a trip I took to London 17 years ago,  I stayed at a hostel near London Tower in the heart of the old town. I saw many of the main tourist attractions, but I failed to go to the Ten Bells pub and seek out the Jack the Ripper case sites. Why?  Because I didn’t know about it then. It wasn’t until I saw a documentary about the unsolved cases, several months after I got home, that I realized I would have liked to see the graves of the ladies he murdered and the pub he stalked his victims from. “I was right there damn it”. I am still waiting for the “next time” to see it,  which has not arrived yet.

Over the years since that travel fail.  I have missed out on lots more; historcal places,  beautiful vistas,  archeological sites, movie set locations,  wildlife viewing, hiking trails, waterfalls, wineries -heck the best bakeries in the area. Because I was too busy covering too much ground instead of  focusing on what was available close by. Thus my losses have in grained the importance of pre trip travel research. Many of my personal interests do not coincide with most tourism agendas. If you are taking a 10 day coach tour, makes sure it’s not just going to drive by Buckingham Palace when you though you would get to watch the changing of the guard.

If all you want is a margarita on a beach, stop reading this and call your travel agent to find an all inclusive resort in your price range and be done. Sometime ignorance is bliss. But a word of warning,  it rains in Puerto Vallarta and you can only pack so many blankets home from the market.  Prepare for the off chance your vacation desinatin may not be so sunny.

I guarantee at your resort you will fiind no shortage of hustlers pestering you to spend your time and money on their wonderful excursion.  It’s only after you spend several wasted hours in a Morocco textile mill being pressured to buy a carpet, and you’ve repeated for the twentieth time “do you not understand no?”. That you realize how excellent it would have been to know exactly what you want to see and what questions to ask. Here are 10 rules for getting the most from your travel destination.

1. Be realistic with your time.  If you have five days in the United Kingdom, don’t try to do London and Edinburgh unless you’re prepared to see a little and missing a lot. Focus on an area you can generally get to within a few hours of your base.  Palace of versaille from Paris yes, but Chateau de Hautefort,  no.

2.  Cities are not the only destination get out to the country. Many of my favorite outings have been on top of mountains,  walking on secluded hiking trails, searching for big horn sheep and sipping a beverage on a patios at a small country watering hole.  Most large tours will take you to major centers but very few to a hiking trail. Know what you want. It’s important note that tour guides often get kick backs from sales of items their customers purchase at shops they stop at.  If you are not looking to shop, let your guide know, and tip him or her the extra commission he lost.  Which is time and aggravation you will save.

3. Engage your hobbies. So you love shoes, how about the Bata shoes museum in Toronto. Antique cars-Luray caverns in Virginia, has Rudolph Valentino 1925 Rolls Royce I have picture of it somewhere. You are fascinated by magic or the craft? Check out the Wyrd shop in Edinburgh.  I’ve yet to see Salem, Massachusetts but I’ll get there.  Are you a horse lover?  Hire a horse and carriage- I love the one in Niagara on the Lake. Or visit a Harness shop there is one Sackville NB.

4. Graveyards, Unesco World Heritage sites, historc monuments, National Historic sites,  national and province parks, nature preserve, wildlife sanctuaries are always on my list of must sees and should be on yours too.  They are easy to ask for at tourists offices, hotel concierges,and by locals to get directions. They are always a source of fascination.

5. Be a foodie. Try the local dishes. I have become an enthusiasts cook at home, influenced by the cuisine I’ve experience while traveling.  Curries,  Caribbean,  Acadian, Mediterranean.  Yummy memories you’ll never forget.  Touring of plantations for coffee, tea, cocoa, wines, rums, beers, and all distilleries included in this topic.

6. Music is universal. Anywhere you travel you’ll find a local beat.  African rhythm,  celtic, calypso,  jazz, rock, blues. Music makes for happy memories. Festivals concerts, patios, pubs, and street performing  buskers, are great sources of entertainment regardless of the weather.

7 Sports. not everyone likes or plays a sport but most countries have a favorite sports past time.  You don’t have to be good at it to feel the passion ignited by a favorite team or sports event.  If I was in Manchester, I’d want to see a foot ball match,  cricket in India, hockey in Canada,  how about Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Indianapolis 500, how can I get a ticket to a PGA golf tournament?  I hope to some day see a stage of the Tour de France.

8 Find water.  Rivers, lakes, oceans ponds have wildlife,and beauty that are enormously impactful. It will leave an impression that is different for everyone.

9. Art. I love to see a painter display their work,  photography shops,  jewelry,  pottery shops, and of courses free outdoor art including statues in parks and museums are always on my list of to do’es.  Art comes in many forms. Could be artitecture, flower gardens or roadside attractions these items get overlooked but can generally be found ever where.  There use to be a shoe tree not far from where I use to live in Fort Erie, Ontario. People would nail a shoe on a post. it was worth a stop; seek these local oddities out.

10. Check reliable travel blogs, invest time web searching not all travel agents are travelers, most are sales people that have never been far from their ofice. Ask others you know that are travellers, and have visited your planned destination for recommendations.  If someone didn’t leave their resort, they are not a good resource-except for that particular accommodation.
Happy travels from Maritime Mac

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