Trip Planning: The Nitty Gritty and Letting Go

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Welcome back to my much neglected Trip Planning series!

I started this series almost a year ago now, while I was in the last few months of planning a Christmas trip to Vienna, Austria. I left for my trip fully intending to finish off the series when I came back home, but I started a full time job in January and juggling everything into my schedule took some getting used to. And then barely a few days after I put up this post I totaled my beloved old 1998 Ford Escort t-boning someone who ran a stop sign at a two way stop.  Luckily, neither myself nor the other driver was seriously injured, but what followed was a giant mess. ER bills, insurance negotiating, and tracking down another car to buy all added to a nagging stress that lingered for months.

I finally reached the other side of the insanity (mostly) when I settled with the insurance company in late April. In May, I posted my first post here in months and I have slowly been getting back into my blogging rhythm. Yesterday as we were making our final plans for our upcoming trip to Canada I remembered that I had never finished this series. So here we are.


After you have a general idea of your itinerary, it's time to start looking into any specific entertainment, food, or day trip reservations that may need to be made. A good guidebook will warn you of which events might require reservations, but if you're planning mostly online, this can be difficult to pinpoint.

Tripadvisor is a great resource for nitty gritty details. Although I prefer sites like for hotel reviews because the reviewers all verified (another topic for a different time), Tripadvisor is great for specific information on "things to do" in each place. Reviewers often leave details on which events, restaurants, etc. need reservations.

Even better than the internet (I know, I know, how can that be?) is to talk to people you know. If you have a friend or family member who has visited or even lived* in the area you are traveling to, ask his or her advice! After all, you're friends with this person for a reason and he or she is more likely to give you good advice than a random on the internet.

*This person, of course, is the holy grail of travel advice.


This is a simple one, but it can be the hardest thing to practically achieve if you're a little neurotic like me. After all of your careful planning and preparation, once your plane lands, your car parks, and your feet stop it's time to let go of everything you thought your trip would be and concentrate on what it is. This can mean anything from being open to changing your plans at the last minute to go on an impromptu day trip, to just embracing the local sites and culture no matter how unexpected or strange.

The process of letting go can make or break your trip, so if you struggle with control issues, shyness (ahem, me), or anxiety it's best to prepare for it just like you would any other part of your trip. Spend some time learning a few basic phrases if you don't speak the language so you'll feel a bit more confident interacting with locals (some to start with; please, thank you, hello, excuse me, where, I would like). Leave a day open in your itinerary for a spontaneous activity.

And please, plan some down time! A couple of quiet hours at the end or beginning of each day can be crucial. I like to spend this time journaling. Don't feel guilty for not being out exploring. You are far more likely to take in and fully enjoy each moment of your trip if you are both physically and mentally well rested!


This is the last post in my Travel Planning series.

For the first post in this series, click here.

For the previous post on Prioritizing Your Itinerary, click here.

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  1. Ack! I'm sure it's been a crazy year for you — sorry to hear about your accident! It's amazing how much time stuff like that can take to get sorted. Hopefully things are going smoothly nowadays.

    Glad to see you're back at it with this series, and I'd love to hear about some of your Canada plans! Letting go is something I struggle with as well, I need to learn that the hiccups in plans help make the trip what it is. Easy to say, harder to accept. :P

    1. Thanks, Marie! I'm hoping to get into some of the Canada planning on the blog soon.


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