It’s easy to read about tips and techniques that the well heeled use to set up a trip; but it’s another thing to be there and go though it while they plan. So, my friend; I’m inviting you to come along with me as I plan my next trip!
Limiting parameters and fixed details:
Time-frame: A long weekend and I was set on the destination, which really narrowed my options but gave me two full days to explore, sandwiched by two travel days.
Location: Istanbul, Turkey.
Research, where to start?
Holidays: Again, I have a small window with no flexibility, but I still checked the holiday calendar. Friday was going to be Labor and Solidarity Day , formerly Worker’s Day where many administrative buildings are closed. This is a great thing to be aware of as the nature of the holiday (which was banned due to the violent protests that often accompanied the original holiday) is a sign that I may have some trouble getting into public spaces, and that there’s also going to be a greater chance of demonstrations.
Flights: Dates and location set, I started with finding flights. Two Momondo and Skyscanner searches later, I found no crazy cheap deals, so I decided to choose the closest airport which accommodated direct flights by Star Alliance airlines. Gotta use those pesky frequent flier miles!
Visa requirements: A quick visit to the State.gov site on Turkey revealed that visas were no longer available upon arrival. Since the flights had been booked, I went ahead with the visa.
AFAM: A quick once-over familiarization of Istanbul based on my guidebook (Lonely Planet’s pocket sized guide to Istanbul which had a great map and rankings of the things to see, do and avoid).
Hotel: Once I’m familiar with the area and the things worth seeing, I can pick a hotel that will allow me quick access and serve as home base. Again I went with a hotel chain where I could use my points, otherwise I would’ve started with an Airbnb search.
Planning: Now is when I go back to the guidebook and also visit the Google machine to see what the major attractions are in Istabul. This is the point where I map out what I want to see and include alternate sites I can hit in the event of a public building being closed given the national holiday. On a longer trip with more time to explore I would choose one or two anchor activities and leave the rest of the day to fate and whim. But with a short timeline, I had to make sure I saw everything I could – I’ll sleep on the flight back home. If anything requires advanced reservations, now’s the time to do it.
Travel Crib sheet: Go through and collect all the contact information I’ll need to have on hand during the trip and get it onto one quick Crib Sheet, print it the size of a credit card, then laminate it – or plug it into Evernote for quick reference.
Voila! The process I went through to plan my latest trip, and the process for any trip is basically the same depending on time restrictions, destination, etc. Hope you enjoyed the ride along!