One of my favorite things about traveling is planning a vacation before we leave. As you may have noticed, I am not the type of person that can “just wing it” for most occasions. I, at the very least, like to see if there is anything I want to make sure not to miss while we are traveling, but more often than not, I do some extensive research before we leave. It can get messy when I am reading countless articles, pinning like crazy and doodling things in 5 different notebooks. This is where my planning process comes in handy.
There are 2 places I keep my travel plans, Trello and Evernote. They both have specific purposes in my planning process, and I will be sharing about Trello for travel more in-depth in another post. For now I am going to give an outline of what I like to do before I travel in order to prepare, and make sure we don’t have regrets of missed opportunities while we are visiting somewhere.
Search on Instagram
I have posted about my love for hashtags over and over again, and here I am mentioning it again. Hashtags are a great way to find out about where you are traveling to. For example, if you are going to Brooklyn and want an insiders view of things that are happening, search #brooklynnewyork on Instagram and you will see a wide variety of photos. You can also do this by the geotagged location. You can look up a specific place, or a city and look through the photos to see if anything sticks out to you. There will often be photos of hotel views, or amenities like the hotel pool, and it’s nice to see this from an actual person. Who knows what type of fancy camera or photoshop the hotel used for their photos. If you want to know more about travel hashtags, check out this post.
Search on Pinterest
This is the same type of thing as searching on Instagram, except you get a much wider set of options to check out. Using the New York example again, you are able to search for a location and all of the results on Pinterest will guide you in the right direction. If you are looking for free things to do, places to stay or great places to eat, you will likely find all of these recommendations from other bloggers or residents. Keep in mind, this will work better for larger destinations, there aren’t many options for smaller towns.
Ask for recommendations
My favorite way to plan for a trip is to ask others that have already been there! This is a great blogging resource that we often overlook. There are so many people out there that have already experienced wherever you are going, ask on social media on in a blog post for recommendations based on location. Ashley has been a huge help with this for various locations, and I’m so thankful for Simi and Megan while I was planning our New Orleans trip.
Check out Google maps
It’s always nice to get an idea of where you will be staying and where you will be going. Thankfully Google maps is a lifesaver when it comes to this, and street view is a huge benefit. I love the option to make a custom map and pin places we know we want to go, this helps when we are looking for something close to us and also allows us to get aquatinted faster. It’s also convent when deciding the location you want to stay in.
Look into Transportation options
This is often a deciding factor in where we will be staying. I like to find out the options for public transportation, car rentals and ride-share services like Uber or Lyft. When we were planning New Orleans, I looked up the cost of an Uber from the airport to our Airbnb and it was MUCH cheaper to just rent a car rather than getting an Uber to take us everywhere. We ended up still using Uber at night, but having out own car was great and saved us money in the end. We also knew that we had the option of the bus 3 blocks from our house, and the street car was less than a mile away.
Search events or festivals happening while you are there
Most cities will have a calendar of events, it’s nice to know what is happening while you are in a new location for many reasons. There are oftentimes street closures you should be aware of, larger crowds, higher prices for food, hotels, and transpiration could be a problem as well. The benefits could be great as well, maybe there is a festival you want to attend or a unique exhibit at a museum.
What do you do while you are planning a vacation?