Sunday, June 10, 2012

How Do We Get There?

I am often asked how we plan our trips. How do we choose where to go, where to stay, where to eat, what to see? For some people the research involved is work. For Clay and me, it's half the fun. We keep a running list of "Dream Vacations" and as each of our trips comes to a close (usually in the airport for the return flight), we look at that list for destinations that offer something different to what we just experienced. After European cities, we might head to hiking in the American west. After an island getaway, we might plan something athletic.

Of course, duration of vacation will play into our choice. Four days offer one kind of trip, two weeks offers something altogether different. Once the destination is chosen, we look at maps and start reading. I am often the initial navigator, deciding what is possible in a given amount of time, and how much time we may want to spend someplace and how much travel time is involved. This summer's trip to Hawaii includes 3 islands with 5 separate destinations, and we decided how long we would be at each place after finding out what each island offered and what appealed to us and for how long.  No matter - I already know it won't be enough time!

Some of our favorite sources are, TripAdvisor, Kayak, Hipmunk, Journeywoman, and all those that I follow on my Twitter feed (@TravelFan15).  We spend time at our dining table with maps open, computers charged, and iPad handy.  If we have friends who have traveled where we are going we shoot off emails asking for recommendations, pro and con.  We compare notes from other travelers, eliminate places based on comments of kindred spirits, and take heed to our particular turn-off: long responses by innkeepers, et al, to reviewers' less-than-flattering reviews.

An important and valuable aspect of this is that we know what we like and what we don't like so we are able to pick and choose informatively.  Even if you've traveled only a little, you can surely make a list of what attracts you, what you like to do and don't like to do, as well as personal pet peeves and deal-breakers.  Keep those in the front of your mind as you plan, and pay attention!

As noted, this summer's journey is to Hawaii, specifically Oahu, Maui, the Big Island.  We go this time with an advantage since Clay has lived in Hawaii and knows it well.  More important, is that he knows that I like to stay in small, quiet places near beaches, and we both want to snorkel and kayak at a leisurely pace.  We compared a lot of Bed & Breakfasts and Inns, far preferable to us than large resorts, and chose based on location, recommendations of other travelers, cost (of course), and general appeal.  Stay tuned for the outcome.  As I write this, our departure is just over a month away.  'Still time for more planning!
Lovie, of course, helps with the planning

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