Anyone who knows me knows that I'm very serious about my travel planning and everything that goes along with it like packing and making reservations for everything possible right away. I'm totally crazy when it comes to planning a trip and I'll do 95% of all the work myself, because I'm a control freak that way. Not only that, but if I could do it all a year in advance, I'd totally do that too. So, if you'd like a look into my OCD travel personality, I'm giving you a peek at it and you'll probably realize why my husband just leaves me to it, for the most part.
Make a packing list the second I know my destination
I want to know everything about where I'm going and you'll catch me checking out the average temps and figuring out what staples I'll need for my trip. I like to plan out my carry-on as soon as possible, so I know what I can fit and what I can't. I keep a generic packing list on my computer at all times, but I revise it with every trip I take, print it out and try not to deviate from that list. Not only does it help me feel organized, but also not to overpack.
Pack a little bit each time I do laundry and/or buy something for travel
Yup, if I'm traveling 3 months from now, I know I'm not going to need certain things and I normally have some basics in my bag at all times, like underwear, socks, a rain jacket and toiletries. So, once my packing list is made, I pull out everything that's clean and put it in a pile with my carry-on. Often I'll buy a few new things to take with me, making packing a little more fun.
Book, book, book everything as soon as possible
This is really where I have problems. I know that some things either can't be booked that far in advance or are cheaper closer to travel time, like airfare, but that doesn't' stop me from looking. If I could, I would book everything as soon as I know my destination, like 6 months out or a year, more. I get really excited about traveling and like to lock everything down and be ready.
When I have everything I plan to pack in my carry-on or in a pile next to it, I will pull it all out and repack it just so it fits better and I can cross stuff off my packing list for real. I live by the rule that practice makes perfect, and I find that packing is an at. You can only truly get good at it by doing it...over and over. Also, by packing stuff multiple times, it makes it a lot easier to repack on my way home knowing how everything fits.
I love food and I love saving money. I know that when I travel, if I don't have snacks, I'll be dying for them on the plane, even if it's only a two-hour flight. If I have snacks, I feel prepared and usually have all those snacks for when I get to my destination.
Acquire and/or make snacks
Like my packing list, I can't wait to have all my snacks together. I'm two weeks out from a trip and have a whole resealable container full of homemade snacks in the freezer. Purchased nibbles are good, but I recently have been making my own stuff, like muffins, scones and granola bars. Not only can they make a healthy snack for travel, but they are great for breakfasts and to toss in my day bag for when one of us gets peckish in between mealtimes. (It's usually me.) It's good to have something that isn't junk food.
Look for perfect places to eat - including airport(s)!
So, my food love is all-encompassing. While I'm waiting to be able to book airfare and other stuff, I sometimes plan a whole day around a place I want to eat. If I can make a reservation, I'm all over it. If we have a long layover, I like to stake out all the great-sounding restaurants or cafes in the airport we can eat at. Knowing where I'm going to eat is exciting to me, especially if it's a place I've been waiting to eat at for a while and it's a bit of a splurge.
Read everything I can find on internet about destination and make wish list of things to do
It's true. I usually research restaurants and food options before I even start looking at all the other activities and attractions. I spend an embarrassingly large amount of time researching my destination. I like to do regular touristy things, but I also like to see what unusual things there are in the area, because sometimes those are better than the normal popular sites.
Whittle down list by reality of time and what spouse doesn't want to do
Once I have a good list of awesome things, I run them by Eric to see what he would also like to do and then pare down the list to something more reasonable and budget-friendly. If I have some items that are in the if-we-have-time-this-would-be-cool list, then I put them on a different list, in case we have the extra time on our trip.
Search, search, search for discounts and sign up for daily deals emails
Anything that requires admission, I look all over for deals that will make those rates smaller. Sometimes you get lucky and find them on the websites for the thing, other times you can find discounts through places like Groupon or a travel site like Hotwire or BookIt.
Possibly repack after making sure stuff crossed off on packing list is actually packed
I know you probably think this is crazy, but I have, more than once, thought I had packed everything on my list and then realized I'd forgotten something essential, like socks or a charger. It's this reason that I go through and make sure everything I checked off is really in my carry-on. I'm a packing freak. I admit it, but the few times I've actually missed packing something I needed, I wasn't able to actually buy the things I forgot where I was.
|yes, we're nerds that take some bad photos, but we still have fun|
Make a tentative schedule until airfare and lodging are set
Now that I have everything set, like what to do, where to eat and when we'll actually be there, I make a schedule. I'm all for going with the flow, but I have never gone anywhere without having at least some idea what I'm going to do each day. I like to make the most of my time at my destination, and sometimes places aren't open all days, so instead of flying by the seat of my pants and just doing whatever when we get up each day, I see how everything fits together, so I don't miss out on important things I want to do.
Then make an official schedule (TripIt)
Once I'm satisfied with my schedule draft, I make it official by using TripIt, so I can print out my itinerary and also have it on my phone. It also allows me to share my trip with friends and/or family. Perhaps a travel schedule doesn't feel all that fun to most people, but believe it or not, usually we end up being so efficient with schedule that we have time for those if-we-can-fit-them-in things I have a list of.
Okay, that's my overly involved travel planning style. Luckily, I enjoy doing it and Eric is fine just taking a backseat and waiting to see the schedule and going along for the ride. Do you have a crazy travel personality or ritual?