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Trip Basics

(c) 2005 by Cheryl Williams Levey,

Traveling is an incredible way to learn about different places, peoples, cultures, cuisines, and customs. I have always loved to travel. Call it wander-lust or adventurous or whatever, whether you want to see the world or just the beauty of your own country, travel is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to combine fun with education, without even trying. When you travel, whether for business or pleasure, you are unconsciously exposed to the different things the place you are visiting has to offer, especially those things that are not available where you live. It's a learning experience.

With the world at your fingertips via the internet, you have everything you need to plan every detail of your trip, from where to go to how to get there to what to do while there (if you aren't working).

Here are the basics of a trip:

  • Your dates: when will you leave, how long will you be gone, when will you return. Be sure to build in your travel time. For example, if you want to spend five days at a nice resort and it takes one day to fly in and one day to fly home, your total time away would actually be seven days.
  • Your mode of travel: airplane, car, ship/boat, train, etc. Many times this will be a combination, e.g., flying to your destination and then renting a car or flying to Europe and using the train system to get to various cities.
  • What to take: How many sets of clothes (a general rule is one for each day plus one), what kinds of clothes, additional stuff (like beach towels, swim suits, and sunscreen for the beach, or an evening gown for a professional formal dinner). If you are driving, you probably can take more than if you are flying but it is always best to try to limit what you take. Less to haul around. Less is better!
  • Your itinerary: What you will do each day. If you are on business, much of that will be a given. For vacations, some people like to plan every day out and some people just let things happen. How detailed your itinerary is depends on the kind of trip you are taking and your personality. I like to have a general itinerary for family vacations because many times we can get discount tickets to theme parks and events before we leave home. However, on other vacations, I haven't planned a thing and still managed to fill up my days with fun! On business trips, many times I build in an extra day or two to explore the city or area I am in.

When planning your trip, be sure to shop around online so you can compare prices before buying. It always amazes me how different the prices can be at different sites for the same thing, so doing some research ahead of time can save you big time. If you are flying, even the difference between leaving on one day or the next can really reduce your fares, so if you have any flexibility there be sure to check fare differences. Also, with some locations and hotels, different times of the year offer different room rates, and year-round, weeknights are less expensive than weekends.

Regardless of where you are going, it pays to have the right accessories. For me, that means a nice suitcase with wheels and one small shoulder bag for each member of our family. I also carry a camera (and film and batteries). We take maps of the places we are going and if to a country with a different language, a phrasebook. Don't forget the electrical adapters either!


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