“How do I plan a trip?”
The whole thing was so overwhelming – I didn’t know where to start. For starters, I looked at what Tour Companies, such as Gate1 Travel, Pat and Mikes, Vacations To Go, and even Rick Steves were offering and comparing their costs by dividing the number of tour days into the price to come to a “cost per person, per day” – which were from $219 – $289 pppd. I knew that the internet would be helpful with the planning, but I didn’t realize how much.
Long story, short: I started researching the internet and getting travel guides and travel DVDs from the library. I went to Barnes and Noble several times to sit down and speed read through a stack of travel guides, eventually buying the one I liked best: Rick Steves’ Italy. I spent hours reading reviews, message boards, and forums on TripAdvisor. com, Frommers.com, RickSteves.com, SlowTrav.com, YouTube.com, and CruiseCritic.com to name a few. I learned so much information: sights I wanted to see, places I wanted to eat, tours, accommodations, tips, prices, and advice.
“How do I keep all this information organized?”
I “bookmarked” pages on the internet, and kept notes in a notebook, then rewrote the notes in new notebooks and as it came together, I saved the information in a Word Document which I continuously edited and fine-tuned.
We had decided that we wanted to take the trip in October and after a while I realized we needed to actually pick a date. From my message boards I had learned about the “Scavi Tour” to the excavations below St. Peter’s Basilica which required reservations made very far in advance. To me, this became an absolute must do! I e-mailed a request for a date within my October timeline and 30 days later I had a reply for 9:45 a.m. on October 7, 2010 which I accepted and prepaid. We had our first firm date around which the rest of the itinerary would evolve. My husband wanted to cruise, so I compromised to less time in Italy and found a 7 day cruise itinerary that we liked (only after researching EVERY cruise line and EVERY itinerary.) We put deposits down on a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line sailing round-trip from Venice on October 16, 2010.
My dream was becoming reality. I now had two reservations for 13 months into the future!