Planning a trip

Somebody asked Fred what blogs we use for travel plans.  There is no doubt that the Internet has changed travel but it isn’t all about the net.  If you spend some time looking on the web, inevitably you can find a blogger who writes about the area you are going to.  Also, there are so many sites where travelers give feedback about their likes and dislikes in reference to food, museums, hotels, etc.  Personally, I am not a big fan of those sites.

We certainly have a method to our madness. It is a mixture of old school and new school.  First off, I keep an array of folders.  If we know that we have plans to go somewhere in the future, I start ripping out information on that area from magazines way in advance.  So do the kids. Funny enough, we generally don’t use the information so much but it is more a confirmation or a reference point.  That is step one.

Step two, we do get a few travel books that we believe to have the latest cutting edge info.  Luxe City Guides are by far the best.  In many ways, if Luxe gives something a nod, you can pretty much be assured that it will be quite good.  Something like the good housekeeping seal of approval for us.  We also like the TIme Out and Wallpaper guides.  In the past, I was a huge fan of Access guides which I still do like but more for historic information on a neighborhood and good maps. 

Last, it is all about the Internet.  Even though the information we accumulate from books and magazines is worthwhile, it is all confirmed on the web.  Everyone has a website these days.  Restaurants generally have pictures of the place and a menu.  Just because someone says it is great, the menu might not appeal to you.  Gridskipper is a key resource too.  Maps and highlights of areas.  Best travel source online. 

I do use my blog too.  If people suggest things, I always take a look.  Fred uses twitter for that.  But, again, the source is not always the right source for you.  So, we take it one step further to confirm that the particular source is in line with our sensibilities. 

Lastly, lots of conversation and cross research.  We generally take out a piece of paper and write down everything we want to see, where we want to eat, where we want to shop, etc.  If we are taking a week or two, we even plot it out by the day in order to really get to see what we want and not waste time.  Nothing worse than getting somewhere and everyone looks at each other and says “hmmm, what should we do today”.  Also, reservations are key.  If we are staying at a hotel, I generally email the concierge a month in advance and ask them to make reservations for dinners each night.  Sometimes we don’t use them but at least we have them. 

When we start plotting everything out, you find that everyone has their sweet spot.  Em was the expert on chocolate, cheese and bakeries in Paris.  Jessica was all about the clothes.  I tended to gravitate towards the museums.  Not that we all aren’t into those things and we discuss it.  For instance, I heard ot that and I saw that and I read on four blogs that was fantastic.  But, like life, it is all about give and take.  When the kids were younger, I owned all of this.  Now, I let them drive a lot of the process. 

So, is the Internet the end all.  No.  Like anything, it is research from cross platforms that really make a great trip.