Deep Dive into Travel PlanningPosted by Whole Earth | 04.07.2020
The uncertainty that we’re experiencing now might make it seem like the wrong time to be thinking about travel. But here we are with time on our hands and by using it wisely, we can give some structure to long-held dreams. Think of it as a project of hope that can offer us a glimpse of what might be possible when we emerge from these days of loss and sheltering in place.
Sometimes when traveling, we regret that we didn’t spend enough time learning about our destination before leaving home. We arrive and take in the official sites, but discover too late that we really wish we had known more about the people and places found off the beaten path. Now that we’ve got the time, let’s use it to gather information about our dream destinations. We’re not looking at booking specific flights, places to stay or tours. We’re learning more about these places and what makes them special.
Where would you like to go?
We’re going to ask a few questions to guide you in gathering information on your dream destination. The first step, make a list of the places you’d like to go. Choose one and dig in. When you’ve completed your dive into one, you can begin on another. Nothing particular in mind? For inspiration, check out travel blogs, WikiVoyage or a list of the UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Now, let’s take a look at your first dream destination. Why would you like to go there? Is there something specific you would like to see or do? Are you on a journey to revisit your family roots? Have you been enchanted by travelers’ tales, films or photographs of the place? Or perhaps you’re on the trail of an event or figure from history.
Let’s learn more!
Who, what, when, where and how are basic questions that give results! But for our purposes, we’re going to reorder them for our deep dive: to where, what, when, how and who.
Pull up a map, hopefully topographic, of your destination. What’s the land like? Are there mountains, deserts, valleys, plains, rivers, lakes or seas? And the climate? Is it hot or cold, rainy or dry, four seasons, two or three or only one? Does the land support jungles or forests, grasslands, scrub or desolation? And what about the neighboring lands? All these elements come together to create a story of the place that’s reflected in the history, architecture, food and daily lives of those who live there.
Is your destination a cultural or historic site, a natural wonder or a special event or holiday? Focus on the specifics of what you would like to visit. If it’s a museum, what’s in the collection? A national park? What are the sights, trails, programs, flora and fauna that you might find there? Want to see the Summer Solstice at Stonehenge? Find out how the event is celebrated today. As you learn more about your specific destination, the details may lead you to more places that you’ll want to add to your wish list itinerary.
This is a very important question that will add great depth to your understanding of the destination. Think of it as learning its life story. The Grand Canyon has a life story. So too, do great cities, museums, trails and grand monuments. Get oriented with a Wikipedia article or guidebook and branch out into other sources of information on the subject. Unleash your curiosity and see where it will lead you.
How sounds logistical, but in this instance it’s discovering if it is, in fact, possible to visit the places you’d like to go. The time of the year may be very important. You won’t want to go in search of the Northern Lights in summer. Is that painting you want to visit on display? Is the museum open or being remodeled? Have others blazed a trail for you? Are there itineraries or guidebooks that can show the way to follow in the footsteps of St. Francis in Tuscany or Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North?
If you are going in search of the life of a personal hero, refresh your knowledge with a good biography. It may lead you to other places that were meaningful for them and now for you. Did a traveler’s tale inspire you? Reread the book and look for a bibliography or a suggestions for further reading. Did you hear the story firsthand? Reconnect with the teller and learn more!
So libraries are closed and you’re watching your finances, but thanks to your digital device and the internet, you have amazing sources of information at your fingertips. Start with a Wikipedia search. You should be able to get some good basic information, further reading ideas and external links. Look for sites devoted to your destination: cities, museums, national parks and more. Try searching Google Books for specific topics and people. Some of the books may be free for downloading, especially travel classics.
Start a word document and copy and paste details you would like to remember. When the time comes to plan the final itinerary for your dream trip, you won’t be scrambling to relocate the information.
While researching your dream destination, note the best times of year to visit. This could include factors like seasonal weather or the number of fellow visitors you would have to contend with.
If you’re traveling to a place where English is not the primary language, use this time to start practicing the basics of the local language with an online tutorial. Remember how much we appreciate visitors’ attempts to speak our language. Making the effort to learn now may open doors for you later.
When the time comes for actually planning the logistics of your trip, take a look at sites like Practical Wanderlust, Nomadic Matt, and WikiHow’s Plan a Trip. Enjoy your deep dive and prepare for better days to come.