Science says that the act of planning a trip can be just as enjoyable as the trip itself. And during times like these, planning a trip is a form of escape. A reminder that we will be able to travel safely again one day. That a whole world exists outside the four walls of our homes that we’ve become so used to.
But obviously, there’s only so much we can do right now. COVID-19 cases are still rising all over the world, and non-essential travel is not recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) or World Health Organization (WHO). But that doesn’t mean we can’t plan for the future.
This post will give you step by step instructions on how to plan a trip (or trips) that you can put in your back pocket—so that the day we have the “all clear”, you can start booking your getaway. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning on wasting ANY time.
Build your bucket list.
The first step to any trip is to figure out where you wanna go. In this case, where is the first place you want to go once this is all over?
Once your list is built, break it down into a few categories. I like breaking my trip ideas into different lists, and at any point in time I’m typically planning at least one itinerary from each list—long weekends vs. trips at least a week-long, places I could drive to vs. places that would require a flight, etc.
Remember, we are planning a trip for once this pandemic is resolved. That means, there should be no limits on your bucket list. Go wild. While no one would recommend visiting China or Brazil right now, there’s no reason you can’t start planning a trip for the future, whenever that may be. We can be patient if it means saving lives, right?
Now, narrow it down to your top one or two.
Narrow down the time of year.
Now, since there is a lot of uncertainty around when exactly it will be safe to travel again, this is where trip planning can be a little different during a pandemic.
Do your research to figure out what general time of year you might want to go. Ask yourself what you’re looking for out of the trip. If you want to see the northern lights in Scandanavia, January through March is the best time of year to see them. If I ever go to Holland, I would want to go during Springtime to see the tulips in full bloom. I hate the heat, so I know better than to EVER visit the southern states during the summer months. When you picture yourself there, what season are you dressed for?
The year? TBD. Maybe this year, maybe next, maybe the year after that. That much we can be flexible on.
Deciding on a time of year will also be helpful in forming your itinerary—which just so happens to be the next step!
Start planning your itinerary.
Now that you have a location and a time of year, you can start planning some more details of your trip. First, decide how many days you want this trip to be, and decide if there are certain days of the week you want to go. This may change as you plan, but it’s good to start with a base.
Next comes the fun part! Deciding what you wanna do when you go! If you’re a spontaneous traveler who likes to go with the flow with no plans, you can skip this step. However, if you’re as anal-retentive as I am, you want to do as much research as you can.
Take note of which things on your itinerary will require some sort of reservation—restaurants, tours, shows, attractions, etc. I have a designated Google Doc for every trip I’m planning, so I can keep my itinerary, notes, ideas, links, reservation numbers, hours—EVERYTHING in one place. In my Google Docs, everything that requires reservations is highlighted in bright green!
Start looking at hotels.
Just because you aren’t booking anything yet, doesn’t mean you can’t make any decisions. What amenities are you looking for? What part of town do you want to stay in? Bring up everything on your itinerary on Google Maps – is there an obvious choice once you see it all?
Narrow it down to your top three or four choices for each city. That way if one closes between now and then (sad reality), and one is all booked up for the dates you want, then you still have a backup.
Let’s recap the New Orleans itinerary I’ve been using as an example:
I know we want to fly in on a Thursday, and fly out on a Sunday.
I know at least one thing on my itinerary (ghost tour) will require a reservation.
I have four solid hotel options, and I’d be more than happy staying in any one of them.
You have your plan. Next comes the hard part…you sit and wait. You wait until it is safe for you and those around you to travel again. We need to be patient when it is quite literally a matter of life and death.
The idea is that you can create an entire itinerary, so that the MINUTE we can travel safely again, you can book an entire trip. A fully planned vacation, just ready in your back pocket.