planning equals perfection. well, kinda.

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. This post is dedictated to getting organized and back into the swing of things, whether you have a kiddo off to school today, are a teacher, or are dealing with the residual traffic associated with the first two.

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I had a comment on my post from last week about having patience but not having the planning side when it comes to travel. To me, these things go hand and hand– this may be from exorbitant amount of down time I experience at my day job.

The one analytical side I gained from my years in college came in the form of my love of Excel Spreadsheets. I happily construct crisp rows for our sales numbers at the office, employee formulas and cells for our home finances and spending money–I’m a dork when it comes to Excel.  What I find I love the most is the joy of planning a new adventure and scheduling everything down to the minute. At least in some cases…

Take our upcoming trip to Napa and Sonoma Valley. Considering every vineyard we are visiting requires advanced reservations, the masses of email confirmations can be a lot to handle successfully. And I certainly don’t want to be charged for a missed appointment without getting to sample the wine!  So, I have constructed a simple row and column form to help keep track of our where abouts during the trip. Here is a copy of the one I did for our Tahiti trip:

So often you see places, restaurants, tours, etc. around the media that you want to try during your stay. I also frequently find that I forget about them and am totally bummed when we missed the opportunity during the trip. Oh well, maybe next time, right? WRONG. With careful planning, you won’t miss the places that mean the most to you. I’m still a little bitter about missing the first documented Pina Colada EVER while in Puerto Rico.

Scheduling does not mean you have to plan every minute of your trip down to the millisecond. Part of the fun of traveling is exploring the unknown and flying by the seat of your pants! If I didn’t allow for any deviation D and I would never have ended up having cocktails in the Helly Hanson dressing room in Annapolis after the yacht show. Hindsight shows we probably should have stuck to an itinerary that night– but that’s a story for another time.  

So here are some tips:

– Find a method that works for you. 

Most people don’t have a fascination with the charts and columns I use. There are many options on the web that can help you create a schedule. Whether it be Google Calendar, Excel, or even a Powerpoint style template from Office.Microsoft.com. I like this one because of the functionality AND of course, the pretty colors. :)

– Sign up for a web service.

My new favorite planning website is Triplt.com. Their homepage even says, “Triplt drags travel kicking and screaming into the 21st century.” While I’m still exploring EXACTLY what the ramifiactions of using it is, Triplt seems to be the new tool to use. It allows you to forward your emails to them and construct an easily put together timeline of events.

-Be realistic.

Know who is traveling and what your patterns are. If you have a group of early-risers, a late night dance party may not be in your cards. Likewise, if your traveling with kiddos, don’t schedule a red-eye flight.

As always, remember that you can plan, save and dream and it’s never going to be exactly perfect. However, planning (whether it be for a trip or for a day at the zoo) is the key to making your experience as close to what you expect as possible.

Here is a link to Independent Traveler’s 5 worst trip planning mistakes for some extra thoughts:

http://www.independenttraveler.com/resources/article.cfm?AID=1031&category=12

What are the things that you feel are “musts” when you are planning a trip? Or do you prefer 100% spontaneity?

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