"Plans are nothing; planning is everything." - Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th U.S. President
Every trip I took, I learn a few new things about my family, my other travel companions, and things that I would do different to make the trip even more wonderful the next time around. It's all in the planning, choosing the right destination, having the right travel companions, and adaptability.
This is probably the most intimidating and time consuming part of all. Many people feel overwhelmed when they start thinking about the trip. I am going to share with you a few steps that I always take when I plan for any trip. By following these steps, planning a trip becomes a breeze, and just like anything else, the more you do it, the easier it gets. And for some people, it will just not your thing, and it's ok. All you need to do is to find the right person to help you. I have planned many trips where I invited my other family members and friends along, or I just outright plan the whole trip for them.
The first and most important step is to know why you want to travel. This will determine or eliminate some destinations. If you or your family want to take a relaxing vacations, then getting up early every day, do long drives and hopping between national parks might not be the right vacation. Maybe the vacation you need is an all inclusive beach resort where you can be pampered and taken care of. Trust me, there are times that I needed these vacations.
The second step is determining who your travel companions will be. Will you be travel with your kids? or just your husband? or just a girls trip? Depending on who you will be traveling with, it will determine the kind of trip you want. If you plan a whitewater rafting trip, you probably don't want to bring a friend like me who can't swim. Or you don't want to invite a friend who is terrified of heights, if you plan to do sky diving or hiking along the edge of the mountain, etc.
The third step is to know the time of the year and the number of days you can spend on the trip. This is crucial because for example, our family doesn't like heat/hot. So I would never plan a trip to Utah National Parks in the summer. It would be too hot for us and it would be absolutely miserable. If you and your family love the heat, then it would be be ok.
Once you get the information from the first three steps, then you would proceed to the fourth step which is choosing the destination. I usually start out by choosing one or two main destinations/attractions first, then as my research about the destination unfolds, I often add as many near by destinations/experiences as the travel schedule allows. I do this in almost all my trips because I want to maximize the places that we can visit in each trip. #TooManyPlacesTooLittleTime.
Finally, depending on destinations, then I would plan accordingly. See more specific details regarding planning for National Parks trip, International and Beach trip at my following up posts.
Choosing the the right travel companions are important because a bad trip can break the relationships and create not so desired memories. When it's just my family and I, getting along is pretty easy. If I invite friends along, I purposefully invite particular friends for particular trips. Nothing against certain friends. Its just that I know they won't enjoy certain things. And if it's not fun for them, it is definitely not fun for me. I also don't want anyone to spend money and effort into a trip that they dislike.
Sometimes it's so much more simple just to plan a trip for yourself or your family; I personally love having more people join on our trips. There are certain trips definitely more fun in a bigger group, for both adults and kids. In the last few national park trip, we would invite a family or two join us. It's nice to hike in a group, and hang out at night where the kids can play and the adults can mingles over drinks after a long day full of activities.
These pics are from our recent trip to Utah National Parks: 3 families, 7 kids, 1000miles+ drive, and 30+miles hike total in 5 days.
This is probably one of the most essential things in ensuring a fun trip, but it also what I love the most about travel. It doesn't matter how much you plan, things will happen. You will have a choice to get stressed, upset about it; or you can just embrace it knowing you will laugh about the experience later. I still remember the time our family rented a CamperVan to explore Scotland. I planned everything, or so I thought. I got a hotspot pod so we can get internet access. I set up my phones to make international calls. As we followed the GPS heading to Neist Point Lighthouse, our CamperVan had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. The hotspot didn't work and we had absolutely no phone services. There wasn't many cars driving by so we were kind of stuck and has no way to communicate with anyone. Having two little kids with us definitely added more stress and worry. After while, we were lucky enough to flag a couple who were kind enough to stop and help us. They drove my husband into the next town to make the call while I made dinner for the family in the CamperVan. We ended up having dinner in our CamperVan, getting towed and spent a night outside the car garage. As we watched a beautiful sunset from our CamperVan over the car shop parking lot, we laughed and till this day, we still have so much laughs when we think back on that day. Travel teaches me and my family to have more patience, more tolerance and more adaptability to whatever it might bring. If you can travel with an open mind and flexibility, I can almost certain that you will always have a fabulous and memorable trip.
Here was our CamperVan being towed; The Neist Point Lighthouse that we finally made it the next day after the flat tire changed; and the sunset view over the garage in Portree, Isle of Skye while waiting for the new tire arrived from Inverness.