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.

Comments (Archived):

  1. Giordano

    What about adventure, discovery, randomness and, you know, fun? That’s what travel is about for me, at least. I usually get in a lot of trouble, but I have very interesting experiences 🙂

  2. gothamgal

    There is plenty of adventure, discovery and randomness but with 3 teenage kids, planning is key and if all plans go to shit, that is totally fine by us.

  3. Liz

    I asked the question and was referred to this blog from AVC. My question came from reading in that blog that you two considered your blogs to be resources for people who were going to travel and I was interested in knowing what blogs you consulted before traveling. I was unsure if there was a demand to read about other people’s personal journeys before one went on the journey themselves. I think beyond guidebooks and online reference sources, most people want to “discover” things themselves and not have their trip too planned out ahead of time.

    But my mother prefers tours so there are obviously a wide variety of kinds of travelers and what they use tools (if any) they use to prepare for their trips.

  4. gregorylent

    i don’t want to know anything about where i am going, except maybe a hotel .. not a thing .. pure discovery is the most golden feeling, and getting lost is always a blessing

  5. Erin

    Well since we operate a healthy travel portal as part of our business, I couldn’t resist commenting. And GG, we do cover Paris. Did you get my email about the Hidden Kitchen??

    Anyway, we find that for those looking to keep active and healthy and esp. for buisness travelers, our 100% original content helps. We tour the places first hand. Runners love our maps, business travelers like that everything is convenient, and everyone appreciates knowing about places to eat, including grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

    Our European expansion is still underway…

  6. Ken

    Something you might want to try (if you already haven’t):

    Get a good street map book, like the A to Z street guide for London. When you put a tentative stop on your list, mark it in the map book. Let’s you find out easily what is in the neighborhood.

    My Rome A to Z has “The 10 Best Places for Gelato”, McDonald’s (for the bathrooms, not the food), cafes, plus numerous places that looked good for lunch. When we went on a guidebook’s walking tour, come lunch time, coffee time, chocolate time, etc. we’d pull out the book and see what was close to where we were.

    You might also want to go to Google docs, start a spread sheet, and invite everyone in the family to share it. That way you can add suggestions from home or work and everyone’s input is in one place.

    You could do the same with a GMail account dedicated to travel. Every time you find something on the web, you e-mail the link to the account and sort it into individual folders for each trip, everyone can look them over and add comments.

  7. gothamgal

    Hidden Kitchen. I did get the email. Thanks so much. Love the healthy blog for travelers. For some reason, when I travel, all my exercise goes down the drain. Whereas, so many others, find it the time to exercise.

  8. gothamgal

    always search the “top 10”. very helpful

  9. lijingwang11