Trip Planning

With COVID hopefully in our rearview mirrors, and many countries relaxing COVID rules, the world is opening up once again to travel.

If you are like me, you’ve been chomping at the bit to get out there and get back to exploring what the world has to offer.

I’ve got my first European Cruise in over two years, coming up in June and already making pre-departure plans and packing lists.

You may ask, “Already?” YES. My motto is, plan for what you can, and be ready for what you didn’t plan.

This means I make my dog boarding reservations well in advance. For the June trip, I’ve had them since last month. Since all the dogs are being boarded, the only other things I need to list to pack for them is any meds they may be taking and blankets/toys. (Unlike when they travel with me when I have dishes, food, water bottles, leashes and more to pack).

I’ve already checked and confirmed my passport is not set to expire anytime soon so good there. Most countries will require passports to be valid 6 months past travel dates.

I’ve read my go to professional tour guide for the area I will be visiting. I’ve read the tourism websites for each country and made a list of what I’d like to see and do. Optional excursions are already reserved and purchased.

In planning ahead,and securing any entry tickets I need ahead of travel, I can spend more time doing what I want to see/do. Yet, I’m very flexible when things happen that I didn’t plan.

And that is really the trick of travel. Have a plan, but don’t be afraid to be flexible and change it up on the fly. In the words of Captain Barbossa, it’s more of a guideline.

When planning a trip I make up three lists. Let’s call the A, B, C.

The A list is everything that I HAVE to see/do/experience or die kind of list.  An example for me is when I visited Vienna, Austria a few years ago. I am a HUGE horse fan and missing the Lipizzans was NOT an option.  I forked out $300 US dollars for two tickets in the gally directly across from where the horses entered. I bought them the day they went on sale, about 8 months before travel. Definitely and A list.

Also on the A list was the Schonbrunn Palace and Gardens.

B list items would be things you want to see if, you have enough time.  For me in Vienna, the Hofburg Palace was a B list item. (After Schonbrunn Palace, if I didn’t see it, I was fine. But, since I planned things out, I was able to see it and many other places).

C list items are things that “gee it’s free/near by and we have time so lets go see it”.

In the days before I was a travel agent, I was on a tour my travel agent had put together. It was a Rhine River Cruise that started in Amsterdam. I suggested to my agent at the time, that she may want to offer a pre/post cruise since the actual cruise didn’t include much of Amsterdam.

We went a day early. I had planned out the day so we used the public transport and took in the Jewish museum, red light district, Ouida Kirk, Church in the Attic, Floating Flower Markets, Rembrandts home, Anne Franks’ hiding place, and the Van Loon museum. Made all of the A list, some of the B list and a couple C lists.

The rest of the group spent a few hours at the Netherlands Open Air Museum.

Always be ready to embrace something you may not see again. On this same trip, I was up fairly early as we glided along our way and I saw a herd of Przewalski’s horses. An extremely rare breed indigenous to the Steppes of Mongolia. There are less then 2000 of these horses in the world.  The horses I saw were wading down in the river bank, drinking. I thought at first they were part of a zoo that had escaped. I found out later that there is a breeding herd maintained in Netherlands that are later re-introduced into their native habitat.

Planning is the key to a great trip. Being flexible is the key to an AWESOME  trip.




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