While I know that many people don’t like planning for travel, that isn’t me. I love trip planning!
When I think back over our 3 months in Italy, so much of the fun was the planning. Where to base ourselves? Initially it was going to be Amalfi and then we settled on Siracusa, Sicily. How would we get there? Why not have a few days in Sri Lanka on the way?
Sri Lanka wasn’t even on our agenda until our favourite travel agent STA Travel suggested it. Once the seed was planted then it was what will we do on our stop-over? Where will we stay. What about accommodation etc etc?
Then what about the time on Italy? We decided to fly into Milan but what from there? While I’m upto my armpits in the planning, my favourite person likes it all laid out before her so she can comment and amend.
My favourite person tends to be happy so long as there is plenty of old buildings, nice food (not expensive) and good accommodation – she does like the occasional splurge (so do I for that matter). She found a delightful city styled B&B in Rome and an awesome accommodation deal in Singapore at The Fullerton during Chinese New Year (so much for my planning – I had no idea it would be Chinese New Year!!!).
A basic itinerary is where I start – lock in where we will fly into and out of and then plot in some ideas for places to visit or regions. I certainly agree with my favourite person that accommodation is important. So often people will talk of low lights and invariably its something to do with the accommodation, whether its budget or 5-star!
When I think of a truly memorable day I had in Paris in 2007 at the end of a work trip as much as I enjoyed my day the hotel was a disaster! I still have the sounds of Joni Mitchell’s Free Man in Paris ringing in my ears as I think about wandering the Champs Elyees on a glorious summer’s day but all of this was dampened by the middle of the night flood in my room accompanied by the completely disinterested night-porter – definitely a low point.
So to our planning for a trip to the UK later in the year. With no teaching commitments in the second semester of 2017, I will take a break from my PhD and we will take off for 6 weeks away in the August through October period. We decided on the UK, as unlike so many Aussies we hadn’t done the “comby” and hostel UK trip as singles or young marrieds. We decided on buying a house and kids instead and haven’t regretted it one bit! So in 2017 we have decided we will make up for it.
We have been to London on more than one occasion, using it as a starting point for trips to Italy, France and Spain. We’d had a few days in Cornwall and Bath with our daughter in 2008 and a few days in Edinburgh in 2013 but that has been it. Just a taster really!
With the dates locked in – Mid-September to late October – we will fly into London and out of Rome. I know that Rome isn’t in the UK but with a very long flying time back to Australia, leaving from Rome breaks the flight up and yes, we love Italy and Rome!
As our planning begins its been diving into the travel guides we have at home, plus purchasing a couple of new ones. I love travel books, I know they are heavy and much of what is in them is on the internet but I love them. My favourite series is DK Eyewitness, although for our short trip to the US last year we found Lonely Planet very good. I bought DKs “Great Britain” a few years ago and added to that “Where to go When – Great Britain & Ireland” and “Back Roads Great Britain”. All have been good bedtime reading.
I also love the Amateur Traveller podcast. When we were planning our trip to Italy pods on Lazio and other Italian regions were all important in planning our travel. As I start to plan our trip for this year I have already found great trips from these pods. A recent pod on Scotland was invaluable. Chris’s interview with the girl with the map tattoo filled us with ideas and her website’s “25 things to do in …” are a great way to get ideas. I was wrapped in the podcast on Wales and train rides which have now definitely gone into the mix of things to do in Wales.
I also find chatting to people who have been to where we are planning to go useful. Basic tips like avoid the school holidays to avoid the crowds as well as to run through itinerary thoughts. Knowing how long it will take to get from A to B is helpful early on as is getting a locals perspective on good food and coffee.
Of course there is also the Trip Advisor Forums. So many great ideas from trawling the forums on the areas you are looking to visit or posting a question on the relevant forum. People are so generous with their ideas and comments.
Keeping an eye out for relevant TV programs has also been useful. Escape to the Country and Sky’s Landscape Artist of the Year have all filled us with ideas.
It’s too early for us to have anything beyond a rough plan that will see us arrive into London and after a couple of days head North to get to the Orkney Islands before the weather turns too bad. From there we will wend our way south before flying to Rome to head home.
Here’s to planning another slow journey!