5 Tips For Planning Your Summer Trip

“When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money.  Then take half the clothes and twice the money.” ~Susan Heller

I’m very excited that summer is coming.  For us that usually means a trip!  And this summer it’s Spain.

I’ve had many people over the years ask, “How do you plan a trip?”  I planned my very first trip to Europe when I was 20 years old.  My friend who was traveling with me had no desire to do any planning.  At first I was disappointed.  But then I realized that I got to chose everywhere we were going.  Europe was cheap at the time so the world was our oyster!  We got Eurail passes and went all over…England, France, Italy, Greece, Austria, and Germany.  Using a travel agent was essential then.  However, there was a lot I could do through the help of LET’S GO EUROPE.  I’d read it at college instead of doing homework, dreaming of all the wonderful places we be going.  Now, the internet is the most essential tool.  But I still use books.

1.  Planning our trip to Spain started with our plane tickets. We save all our miles through a mileage plus credit card.  We get a lot of miles because my husband uses it for work.  A fellow blogger name Tyler at Advanced Riskology has a more radical way to get plane tickets by buying gold (click the link if you want to risk it!).  We use United’s website and our miles to get very inexpensive tickets.  We also have a Frontier miles card. If we’re not using miles, I always check out Travelocity and Expedia to match prices and even hotels and cars.

2.  Buy and borrow several books on Spain. Each has a different perspective.  Rick Steve’s Europe books seem to follow out philosophy best. I still check out different ones like Frommer.  I make a rough itinerary after reading the books

3.  It’s time to go online. There are several websites that are helpful.  Each individual hotel has a website.  Also, there’s VRBO (vacation rental by owner).  If you have children, you really want to use this to find inexpensive places that have kitchens and extra beds.  These are often in places where the locals live.

4. Now it’s time to go to Tripadvisor. I absolutely love Tripadvisor.  It gives real people’s reviews of hotels, condos, restaurants and places to visit.  I have changed some reservations after reading what people have to say.  We have gone to recommended restaurants and never been disappointed.

5.  After we have our flights and hotels planned, I plunge myself into the culture. I watch videos on youtube and hulu.  I watch movies on Netflix.  I read books that take place where we are visiting.  For this trip I watched all the Rick Steve’s Spain espisodes on hulu and the Made In Spain Cooking/Travel episodes.  I’m rereading my favorite book, SHADOW OF THE WIND, that takes place in Barcelona.  We’ve watched several movies, GOYA’S GHOSTS and VICKY CHRISTINA BARCELONA to name a few.  We’ve also gotten interested in Spanish guitair music.  For our last party we hosted a Tapa’s Party.  I also study maps, metro lines and museum openings and closings.

I may seem a little obsessive when planning a trip. Yes, I could have been a travel agent in another lifetime!  However, I end up getting so much out of our trips and am a great guide for my family as we travel.

Future posts will be coming from Spain in a few weeks.  Grab an armchair and travel along with us.

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5 thoughts on “5 Tips For Planning Your Summer Trip

  1. Fantastic post, Betsy! My family has done a lot of traveling internationally as well as within the U.S. because of our kids’ figure skating competitions. I use to compare plane fares and also use TripAdvisor, especially to find hotel reviews. I created Word document packing lists which I check before any trip. My kids don’t compete any longer, but I used to have packing lists for summer or winter road or plane trips with or without skating. My packing list is always the last thing I check before leaving on any trip! I LOVE all your ideas for preparing for a trip and truly appreciating a different culture! :)
    Deb @ Raising Figure Skaters recently posted..“Set the World on Fire” Word-Art Freebie

  2. GREAT post! I’ll save this for when my daughter goes off to tour europe. One day. Sigh. lol. Me though? Hmmmm. I usually get detoured at the money part. lol. One day though, one day. Til then, I shall live through your travel posts Betsy!
    sheila recently posted..Weekend Walkabout The great outdoors

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