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Across the Fence: Planning a Trip

Do you like traveling? Or would you like to travel but can’t anymore for whatever reason? Or have you never dared to travel because you have never experienced how it’s done and it’s totally out of your comfort zone?

To plan a trip you do best with a map and a distance in mind that is doable for you.

As a kid one of my favorite role plays was that of a travel agency. I learned how to figure out the brochures with their enticing pictures. Later, my mother showed me how to plan a trip without the help of any agencies. And in my German business life, I helped colleagues countless times to arrange train rides, flights, and hotel rooms. Today, I enjoy planning trips with my husband. You can do this, too, whether you really plan to travel … or whether you’d just like to mind-travel. Here’s how.

Presumed you have never dared travel outside the places you already know. Take a map and choose what you’d really like to see. Don’t use a GPS for that. A GPS never shows you anything except the fastest route – which often is not the most scenic one. Write down the places you’d like to touch on your way to your destination and, if they lie offside your main route, where to take a different road. If this is a first for you, choose a place inside a radius of what you know you would drive in about half a day. No more. Because an entire day of driving is usually devoid of fun, and you want time to explore during your trip and at your destination. And if you are feeling uncomfortable with your undertaking, it’s easy to head back home in just another half day.

Standing in line for a photo in front of the site is sometimes less fun than taking a photo of the site and the line itself!

Now, you need to check for a place to stay overnight. There are different ways to find one. I usually go to my preferred online platform. The form shows you what they need to know from you – how may persons, how many nights where and when. And within a click you are shown open hotels, motels, B & Bs, and more. Usually it comes with a map, so you can see whether you have to walk a lot from your place of choice to the places of your interest. Or you go to Google Maps, enter the town’s name and “hotels” or “motels”, and there might pop up places those online platforms don’t even offer! Also, you will want to compare prices. And if an online platform tells you the hotel of your choice is booked – call the place directly. Sometimes you will find that they will still be able to accommodate you!

Here comes another fun part. Call up the websites of your destination. Most towns or sites have one these days. Read up on them. Be prepared. Preparation is half your anticipation! Maybe you already make a plan where to have dinner. Where to have breakfast. Whether you can buy some snacks for your room anywhere or whether you rather bring them along. Whether there is a pool you might want to use or a hiking trail you want to explore.

Whether you are actually taking the trip or not, planning is something fun – even if it’s only for an imaginary travel. There are pictures on the internet that sometimes show you angles you won’t be able to experience in real life. Or where you’d have to stand in line to have that typical Instagram picture taken; it’s so much more fun, by the way, to take a picture of that line than queuing yourself!

Different booking sites show you different options for different budgets.

Traveling is nothing to be afraid of. Remember: a journey always begins with a first step. Planning is fun. Traveling a map with your finger is an experience that will show you geographic correlations better than any GPS in the world. It will show you lakes and caves, historical sites and waterfalls, secret beaches and ghost towns, where you can fish or boat or maybe only hike. And – travel agencies, close your ears: Planning a trip yourself is cheaper for you as well. You will find special flight offers (insurance plans, too), ferry connections, outing opportunities, towns and hotels no travel agency will book for you because they are too out of the way or too small to accommodate the crowds.

So, whether you plan to visit a place like Ocean Shores or Paris, France – the planning process is pretty much the same. Except you need a valid passport and sometimes a visa for traveling outside your nation. And if you are only mind-traveling – there are no limits for you anyhow. The world is your oyster, especially when you are sitting in your armchair, pouring over a map, dreaming of a destination the thought of which makes you happy.

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