How do you start to plan your trip

Old Jul 11th, 2006, 10:27 AM
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How do you start to plan your trip

I am curious as to how everyone goes about planning a vacation. Especially when you know nothing about where you want to go, best time of year, costs, etc. I usually buy a travel book and go from there. What else does everyone else do? I try to look on the internet but when doing a search the results can be overwhelming. Thanks.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 10:30 AM
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I read travel magazines. Budget Travel often has good ideas for roadtrips in the U.S. for example.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 10:37 AM
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I also read Travel magazines, books, getting ideas along the way, often deciding on a destination that was not part of the original trip thoughts.
If I know where I want to go, Guide books get me excited
Here on Fodors, I can fine tune and get great tips and ideas that just are not in any book
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 10:49 AM
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Besides those things that suze and Scarlett mentioned, I find that I can learn a lot about a place by researching the accomodations offered. I frequently surf through tripadvisor when I'm trying to get a handle on a place. Seeing what is offered and reading the remarks is sometimes a good place to start and can lead me in a lot of different directions.

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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 10:52 AM
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I usually start by poking around on the web, tossing some random search terms into google. I also visit which has pictures of everyplace you could imagine and quite a few you couldn't. I like to look at obscure lodging websites, not because I necessarily want to stay there but to start to get an idea of what area I WOULD want to stay in if I went there. Then out comes the atlas, and then I buy a few travel books. Sometimes my initial inspiration is a book I'm reading -- not a travel book necessarily.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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DH & I always start by picking a location we want to visit then I do the research. In the good old days before internet, I would go to the library and check out all the books on the area I wanted to go. I still do that, but now I also use the internet.

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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 11:27 AM
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I am about to drive alone from Indiana to California. What I find frustrating - google/search for routes and find more than one but no hints why to pick one over the other. I can get milage but when I look ahead for where to stop over with all the ratings low, there is no clue if all dumps or safe. I only have a few days left and know where I will stay in Indiana and Cheyenne, thats it ..... I need a tour guide that recomends routes based on preferences. Hope I can look around a bit on my way, and post likes/dislikes and why.Cheyenne over Denver because I have friends to visit there and stops I want to visit again. Too much coffee/no sleep/an ticking away time faster, and faster.....
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 12:41 PM
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I went online and posted when was the best time to go to Alaska, and what was the best books etc I should have. I got great replies back all in agreement that either May or September the best time, and to be sure and get the Milepost. Which I did. I read that almost cover to cover. Then I got online and brought up every thing I could find on Alaska. Discussed with DH what he would be interested in, looked up online and read. Then sent for brochures etc from various things of interest. After I had all the literature, print outs online, we knew right away we needed more than just afew days in Alaska. Being retired we decided to do it up good so just planed to spend at least a month. Went back online and asked acouple questions on which bus tour in Denali was the best, again majority said Wonder Lake, suggestions were to be sure and do Seward, Whittier, Valdez which we did. I put all it together, and went online and made all reservations for tours and hotels online. Everything was great, had no problems, had a marvelous time. I do my own planing on our trips, have never used a tour guide or travel agent. I feel I do a much better job, and DH and I get to see and do exactly what we are interested in. We are in our late 70's so was not interested in hiking, camping, or fishing or flying. But I drove the whole thing, got to see just what we wanted and got to stay as long as we wanted. It was a absolutely marvelous trip.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 12:43 PM
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I have a long list of places. For next vacation, I just pick the one which calls out to me Or check the air to several locations, and go with the cheapest.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 01:03 PM
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I have a 'wish list' as well as several places that we visit frequently (or attempt to). After that, it becomes an issue of timing, & cost. Then the research begins...Mostly internet related, but I also buy guidebooks as well. For example, we already have plans for Key West in Nov. & Montserrat & France for sometime between this Fall & May of 2007. From there it will depend on when we can get flights, etc.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 01:18 PM
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Our trip planning always starts with finding what we think is a great airfare. Once we book that we decide what the particulars of the trip will be.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 01:38 PM
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I have a basic wish list of places I would like to go, but inspiration can come from anywhere. A novel I'm reading, the travel section of the newspaper, a travel guide, another person's vacation adventure, a photograph. Who knows? Our trip to New Mexico this October came from my mother's desire to see the Balloon Fiesta - and she doesn't really like to travel!

Once the destination has been determined, the planning involves researching via internet, guidebooks, and people who have been there before. And as many other sources as I can find to help make the trip enjoyable.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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We don't have a written list, but we have talked so much about so many places we want to visit that we certainly could come up with one quickly. We usually have a few places we are "talking" about each year, then we start looking at vacation schedules, which place is best for that particular time of year, etc, which means research, research, research. I don't know how people travel without basically knowing the areas they are traveling to before they ever leave home. I HATE to miss anything good in an area, and that always seems to happen no matter how much reading and planning we do, but thoroughly researching the area is the best bet to a once-in-a-lifetime vacation each and every time you travel for pleasure.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 03:14 PM
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I pick a destination and they use whatever resources are available to learn about it.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 03:17 PM
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Every trip seems to originate in a different way! We've tagged on a weeks vacation to a wedding we were invited to in Salt Lake City. Air fare was cheap to Las Vegas so that was the starting point and we visited 3 National Parks on the way to SLC.

Another trip might be determined by a business trip destination which sounds DH had a one day conference to attend in Laguna Beach so we flew into San Francisco, drove down the coast and ended up in San Diego.

Generally one of the first things I do is pick my travel dates and then decide where I'd like to be

Research is mainly internet based but I like to buy a map and a guide book before we go.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 03:19 PM
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Bayougirl - we pretty much DO have a many places, so little time.

We usually take 1 BIG vacation a year and then a few "Mini" trips along the way. We pretty much know our destinations for the next 3 years and actually have next years trip booked.

Once we know where we want to go, then we research online to find out the best time of year to go and compare travel website resources for lodging, things to do, airfares, etc.

I figure out the best deal that I can come up with, then I call my TA to see if she can do any better. If she can I go through her, if not, I book online.

Once where and when is decided, I will buy a couple of books and continue research travel websites like Fodors and Tripadvisor to figure out things to do, places to eat, how to do what we want to do, etc.

Do you have ANY idea as to where you would like to go or what you would like to do? Are you beach people, athletic? Are you more into cultural type things like museums? Do you prefer hot weather, cool weather? Also what time of year will your schedule permit you to go on vacation? These are the very first things we consider. Hope this helps.
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 06:28 PM
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I get a general idea of where we want to go (like southwest) then I tell Travelocity/Expedia to let me know when the rates drop on flights to the major airports. This usually start 4 to 6 months before departure.

Car is next with plenty of time to play Pricelines "your bid was not accepted" game.

After that, accommodations. Lately, this means VRBO.COM for me.

Finally, gory details of exact sites to see, places to eat, etc.

Mike Honeycutt
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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 06:55 PM
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First thing I do is buy a simple map of the region/city/area. The amount of entertainment I get from a simple map and my imagination in the months prior to a trip is unbelievable.

Lately I've then matched rental car rates with air fares when trying to find the cheapest combination of the two. (Eventually I'll fly and drive in what is usually some sort of a 'circle' on the journey)

My trips are almost never pinpointed enough so that I don't have the option of a handful of airports in the surrounding states.

After that I usually "project" wanting to be in certain spots on certain nights and will use "Priceline" for low hotel rates on those nights. Other nights are left open for when I'll be 'in transit'.

I don't mind traveling at any time of the year, but tend to lean away from the tourist rush because I usually have that freedom. Many of my trips have been to Canada this decade so that limits me to the less-hostile months in terms of weather.

In recent times, I've used Mapquest or the like to have with me the detailed directions to spots I "might" want to hit while in a certain area. Need a large envelope to take all of my planning materials along with me.

The net is generally a godsend for traveling. So much easier now to check airfares on my own than to have to call somebody at an airline who may or may not look carefully with me in mind.

Hope this isn't too thorough an answer.

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Old Jul 11th, 2006, 07:32 PM
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These days I would say: calaendar, wether averages, on line sites and travel books. Including AAA tourbooks, which was my pre internet main guidebook.
Old Jul 11th, 2006, 07:33 PM
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Oh and Travel Mags: Budget Travel, Via (AAA) and Sunset for the west. Hawaii for guess where.
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