Travel Planning Step 2.1: Walls are a nice touch

P1050242 - Version 2Time to tackle laying out your trip. It’s easier if there are two of you at this point if only because it means you will both have headaches when you go to bed. In our house, because he is good at math, micromanaging and optimistic about making connection times, Mr. Mark is in charge of the transportation. Booking the accommodations is my baliwick so that's what I'll talk about now. 

Mark in the flight and time you leave and the local time of arrival on your magical holiday calendar sheets. This is the fun part and many times in the next few days you will look at that one square like Dorothy checking out the Ruby slippers. Mark the day the trip ends, where you’re leaving from and the local time. 

Did I mention yet you do not have to begin and end your trip at the same airport? If you’re not going far or have a nice round trip back to the starting point already planned, don’t worry. We usually end up a substantial distance from where we started so our plans almost always use the 'open jaw' ticket option. Covering old ground wastes too much time for us -- did I mention my husband is descended from the Tartars? 

If you’re planning more than a couple of weeks on the road, try to book 2 days at each end of the trip. F1010021

It's a good idea to at least take a day or two at your initial destination out of consideration for yourself. If you’re on the plane for more than 5 hours, regardless of what the local time on arrival, that day is pretty much shot.  If you are tempted to think 8 hours of sporadic sleep, plastic food and valiant attempts at personal hygiene in a flying urinal will be remedied by a quick shower at the B&B you are wrong. Your dream vacation will start out stumbling around in search of soup and hoping to find your way back to the room. 

IMG_0912This is not how you want to remember Amsterdam or London or Dublin. Do yourself a favour and take a couple of days to get the stink blowed off.

At the end of the trip, that extra day or two is a chance to wind down, pick up those last few trinkets for Marge at work, the kids, the dog sitter, the letter carrier...Some of us like to poke around for another suitcase to carry laundry, trinkets and booze.  

So, now you need a place to stay. This is where the trusted guide book comes in. Most will have something about different levels of accommodations. In the Rick Steves books selections are graded in price and quality. All are clean, dependable and have friendly people at the door. Regardless of which guru you’ve picked,  places they list may give a moderate discounts for mentioning the book. Mention it. Seriously. Depending on how long you’re staying, that may mean the price a nice meal. 

We are partial to the ‘Wee Comfy just like Mom’s’ style of B&B or small family run hotels. They are reasonably priced, include breakfast and have a live-in advisor on Le Pitchet restaurant in Chartreswhat’s hot in the local scene. If you have an accessibility issue, you may consider going the modern hotel route as most family hotels and b&b’s are in quaint older buildings. Quaint equals plenty of stairs and few elevators. 

Next step is a generic email that will contain the following information: who you are, how many in your group, how many beds you require, the day you arrive and the morning you leave. The arrival/departure dates are essential so the calendar comes into play. Work in the name of the guidebook in case there is a discount; if you’re staying 4 or more nights, ask if they discount for that too. Don’t worry about being chatty, just get the facts all there. Yes, I said email. Even the wee-ist olde inne has a wee modern Mac or pc hidden away with the house elves.  

 To: Aunty Hilda’s wee comfort Inn

From : me

Subject: Double room, 2 persons, 2 nights

Hello, I would like enquire about a double room, for two persons arriving May 29, departing May 31 - 2 nights. We saw that you are recommended in Elmoe’s Getaways Guide and the location is ideal for us. 

Please advise of availability and rates. My email is: me @ what_ever dot ca and my phone # is (Canada) number number etc number. 

 Thank you 

See, easy, simple and all the information Aunty Hilda really wants at this point in time. 

Pick out a couple of places that fill the bill in case your first choice for little piece of heaven is booked up. lather, rinse, repeat: with the calendar in hand, start checking a few of the "for sure" destinations you have planned. It makes getting up in the morning so much fun to see which of your pen pals has replied. 

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