How to plan a trip, part 1

It is time for “How to plan a trip, part 1.” The first type of trip you could be taking is “You have absolutely no idea where you want to go or what you want to do, but you know you want to go somewhere.

This type of trip can be tricky to begin planning, but once you have some ideas, you’ll probably have a hard time deciding what you want to do.

Take me, I know I want to do some traveling in Ohio, but I do not know where I want to go or what I’d like to see. I do, though, know things I do not want to do. I know that I do not need to concern myself with Bowling Green or Toledo in western Ohio, nor do I need to look at touristy areas along the Lake Erie coast, nor do I need to go anywhere in Cleveland, Akron or other parts of northeast Ohio. Essentially, this comes down to this area: from Findlay in the northwest down to Cincinnati in the south, east to Athens and north to areas south of Akron, all surrounding Columbus.

Now that I know my boundaries, I went to the library. The travel section contained a variety of Ohio guidebooks, including some Neil Zurcher selections. I selected three. Guidebooks are good because they group activities by city and region so you don’t have to figure out what things could logically be combined into an excursion.

Then, I went to AAA. This, of course, is a logical step only if you are a AAA member. If you aren’t, it could be a good idea to join, just for the travel assistance they provide. I explained my boundaries and received all sorts of pamphlets to attractions and guidebooks and magazines.

Now I am at the reading stage. I am looking through my books and pamphlets, keeping a list of sights that sound interesting. From my groupings by city and region, I will be able to pick a group of things that I can do in a day. Then I will want to find out how long it will take to get to the prospective places. Maybe on the way to some attraction, I will pass other attractions I want to see. Combining those into one trip makes sense, only if I can spend enough time at all the sights I want to see. The Internet is another fabulous resource. I will be using the Internet to confirm opening hours and directions, and probably to learn more about prospective sights.

Once your places are picked then you can pick a time you want to travel. If you need lodging, then you will have to work your trip around that. After that, you’re all set.

A couple of other examples:

Let’s take the lady I met at the library who wants to go to Canada to see wilderness things. Wilderness in Canada is really most of Canada. In this instance, I would go to the library or AAA to get information about Canada, so you can read about popular activities. Look at the table of contents in the guidebooks. It’s likely there will be a nature section. Thinking about the landscape is another great way to narrow down your choices. Do you want to go somewhere with lots of lush greens, the prairie or the mountains? Are you looking for water activities? Find some way to narrow down your options.

Maybe you don’t even know where to begin. First, I would suggest thinking about activities you like participating in. This could be skiing, hiking, laying on the beach, learning about something historical, learning about a different culture, riding roller coasters, looking at art or rafting. Maybe there is a certain time period from history that interests you or a certain subject, like castles, the Renaissance, totem poles or old forts. At the same time, think about what you would like this vacation to accomplish. Do you want to relax or do you want to be active? Do you want to be alone or do you want to be around throngs of other tourists? Do you want to stay close to home or go far away? Do you want to leave the country? How do you want to get there? How long do you want to be on vacation? And probably most importantly, how much money do you want to spend?

One last example:

After reading my above suggestions, let’s say you think you would like to take a trip where you would learn about the ancient Egyptians. This could go one of two ways. OEgyptian art in the British Museumne, you go to Egypt and see the pyramids. Or, if you are looking for something a little less far, costly and hot, you could go to New York City and visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which has an excellent collection of Egyptian art. Other museums across the country are likely to have Egyptian exhibits as well, and there may even be a traveling exhibit — one that goes to many museums — about the Egyptians. Maybe an IMAX theater is showing a movie about Egypt.

I used that example to show that one idea has many possibilities. Because of the multitude of travel options surrounding one theme, you should be able to plan and take a trip that is pleasing to you. Planning a great trip can require a lot of thought and effort, but when it comes down to it, and you are seeing or doing something that you have always dreamed of, you will know that all the stress and planning were well worth it. I know this because I have felt it many times. Like when I was walking the grounds of the Ancient Agora in Athens looking up at the Acropolis basking in early morning sunlight. Or when I was bicycling through the flower fields in The Netherlands. So, what I’m saying is that travel dreams do come true.

Sun over the Acropolis

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