FAQ: HOW DO YOU TRAVEL SO MUCH?
It’s been over a week since I’ve been back and between jetlag and Holidaying (Thanksgiving, Black Friday sales, Xmas Prep) I’ve been all over the place. My plan now is to properly document a few things:
- How I plan for my trip: booking tickets, choosing hotels etc
- How I manage trips with a full time career
- Hotels I stayed at and reviews
- Trip highlights and photos galore.
With this first post, I’ll share how I choose a destination and how I plan for the trip. This will somewhat encompass aspects of #2- how I manage trip with a full time career.
For most of my travel, I plan well ahead, always 6months ahead of time if not more. It usually starts with Google Maps- yes, seriously. I literally pull up the map and look at the lay of the land. Well, let me rewind a little. It actually often starts with the calendar- not just the calendar but all the national (bank) holidays in the year. I mark off MLK, Columbus, Labor, Memorial, Veterans, Thanksgiving, every single day that I have off. I look to see how I could max those days. Is Columbus on a Monday or Friday- Can I turn it into a 3 day getaway or better yet, a 5 day trip. I’m willing to travel 5-10hours for a 5 day trip. Longer travel time means more days away. I mark off the dates in my calendar and then I check out my office calendar. What’s happening at the office, what’s on my boss’ calendar, my peers, and what’s going on with staff that report to me. I literally map it all out, taking all of above into consideration. If more than one person in my core team is going to be out, then that’s not the best time to go away. On average each year, I take off 15-20days, even though many people think I take way more. Just a reminder- social media and Instagram magnify/amplify each trip.
So, where was I? – Ok, calendar set, now on to Google maps. The goal is to have one long trip and 3-4 shorter trips, not counting weekend getaways that don’t require time out of the office. For every 4-5 day window I have on calendar, I look to see where I can get to in under 10hrs (under 8hrs is preferred) of travel time. Being based in NYC this usually translates to the Caribbean, Canada, quite a bit of Europe, some parts of Central America.
Trips I have taken during a 5 day window have included going to Barcelona in November, Panama in October, Bermuda earlier this year, Montreal almost every summer, Curacao in August (this was more about my sisters wedding), New Orleans, to name a few. These kinds of trips are really the best kind when it comes to maximizing your days off. I always make sure to book a late flight on my workday- that way I actually go in to work, then take a late flight out, this reduces numbers of physical days out of the office.
Now, longer trips are a little trickier not only for scheduling but also because they tend to cost more. So planning for this requires thinking about the other variables – best time of year to visit, shoulder season vs. peak season, flight deals and prices. I am avid consumer of travel mags and blogs- so even before I look at the map, I have ideas in the back of my head from mags such as AFAR, Travel &Leisure, CN Traveler, NY Times travel section or Travel Noire and more recently instagram feeds which the travel industry better credit for increasing the appetite for travel. So while I look at map, I’m thinking about places I would love to see, where I would get the most for my money, the kinds of cultural and educational experience I’m seeking. It was by looking at Google maps 2 years ago that I realized I had seen so little of Asia and the Middle East and decided to fit trips to both on my calendar. So far I’ve been able to visit Thailand, Cambodia, United Arab Emirates (Dubai and Abu Dhabi), and just now Indonesia, Singapore and a quick teaser of a visit (1 night and day) in Hong Kong.
Looking at the map, also reminds me of how big the world is and I pin places of interest that go into my “maybe soon” list. With dream destinations noted, I turn to my most favorite tool- Tripadvisor and look up 2 things. (1) Things to do and (2) Places to stay. I’ve shared here before that I like nice hotels and it may sound so superficial, but I hate it when a destination has limited accommodation- I actually have 2 destinations that have been on my list for a few years now, I’m hoping someone would open a decent hotel at both of them before I go.
I bookmark things and hotels of interest and then I set fare reminders using Kayak while also checking out sites like the flightdeal desperately hoping for a crazy deal or a travel match with my list. And then the waiting and watching game begins, fingers crossed it all lines up- dates, prices etc. And right at that moment when it does, I start the process all over again- thinking and planning for the next one, like every travel junkie does.
Having Kynd Coconut at Kynd Seminyak Bali– Vegans reunite (sshh I eat meat, but appreciate clean eating)
Sandals: Abercrombie seen here.
Shirt and bag- purchased in Bali