Thursday, 2 May 2013

Where do I go and what do I do?



Alright, so you've saved your pennies, wait those don't count any more, nickles, and you've booked off some vacation time.  GREAT! You should be really proud of yourself for doing such a fantastic job.  Now you just have to figure out what you're going to do with all that coin and free time.  I say it's about time for a vacation, don't you?

Now, if you're like me and want to go EVERYWHERE, then picking a location can be tricky.  It can also be hard to decide where to go if you haven't done much travelling.  Where do you start?

Here's how I go about choosing a vacation location and planning my trip.  I start with a list of places or areas I'd like to visit.  This is slightly challenging as I want to see the "whole" world, but I can usually narrow it down by what kind of adventure I'm looking for and how many nickles are jingling in my pocket. 

Then with my list I take to my computer and the interwebs.  Thank goodness for the WWW! My favourite first stop is www.frommers.com . It provides you with a great overview of the weather, times to visit, and suggested itineraries which will give you an idea of how many days you'll need to see a city or country.  If you're planning on moving around a bit, knowing how long you need to see each place is really important. 

By this time you've probably filtered down to the places you'd like to visit on your travels, and you're super excited!  I'm excited just thinking about you planning your trip. 

The next step is to start figuring out which things you'd like to see and do in your location of choice.  This is where the Internet, the bookstore and your social network start to play a role in your trip planning. Then plot them on a map , for example: museums, shops, restaurants, historic sites, etc. I know this sounds like a pain in your backside, but trust me, it's so worth it!  If there's public transit, and you plan on taking it,  (I recommend this experience to all travellers as it connects you with the real heartbeat of the city) then have a look at how it accesses these places.

Now you get to pick your accommodations! Now that you've plotted all your must-sees, you'll have an idea of the area that will be most convenient to stay in.  You don't want to waste your vacation time travelling to the opposite side of the city every day.  You'd rather be eating gelato, sipping on mint tea or munching on an empanada (seriously, why are they so good?).

And there you go, most of the hard work is done! Remember not to over schedule yourself, you'll want to give yourself enough time to appreciate the things you went all the way there to see and allow yourself a little spontaneity.

Here are a few of my favourite websites:
Government of Canada Travel advisories: http://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories 
For flights in Europe - www.edreams.com
For city getaways - www.bookit.com
For organized adventure tours - www.gadventures.com

and my new favourite app: TripAdvisor city guides (once downloaded, you don't need an internet connection and it provides you with an interactive map, restaurant, attraction and shopping suggestions)

Have fun and be SAFE!