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!
How do you plan for a trip? Am I missing anything… am I OCD????