The Mind of Anne

Posts Tagged ‘travel’

December 5th, 2013 Wanderlust and the Art of Planning an Adventure

The Duomo - Florence, Italy

The Duomo – Florence, Italy

It hits me so often I begin to wonder if I was meant to be a nomad. I get that anxious feeling that I’m missing something or life is passing me by or there are things out there I need to see . . . NOW. Yes, I am suffering with a terrible case of wanderlust today. I need an adventure.

When I travel I lean more toward adventures in nature, seeing the countryside, getting to know the people. There are the occasional trips to lie on the beach and veg. Or trips that are art-heavy. But for the most part, my trips will include hiking and biking and kayaking and wildlife viewing – not in an extreme sports kind of way but certainly active adventures. My theory is that I can be warm and dry and rested at home. Vacations should be a bit of a stretch for me.

Impalas - Okavango Delta, Botswana
Impalas – Okavango Delta, Botswana

Here are some basic steps I take in pulling together my adventures that many would call a “trip of a lifetime”:

Take inventory: I always keep a short list of places I can’t live without seeing soon. And then there’s the long list of destinations that require a lot more planning and cash. Locations shift between the lists as I read more, study more, yearn more. Today’s short list includes India, Ireland, Israel, France and the American West. I seem to have a thing for countries starting with I – I’ve already been to Iceland and Italy.

Figure out what you want to see and do: This is where I focus on the short list. I gather intel from the Internet, TV, magazines and talking to people. I sign up for info from travel sites, outfitters, tourism boards, etc. and follow them on Facebook and Twitter. I have an email folder, a folder on my computer and physical folders packed with info. At some point I make a list of places to go, things to see, experiences I must have for each of the destinations on my list. This is a long-term project and there are many destinations in the research phase at any given time.

Tocorime - Brazil

Tocorime – Brazil

Choose your destination: The destination chosen is more art than science. I don’t necessarily pick a country because I’ve done the most research on it but sometimes I do. There might be a good deal on a trip or airfare that pushes me toward a destination. It might be some particular activities that get me excited. It might be someplace my Nice Husband Bill wants to go. And more often than not, the destination isn’t chosen until more of the following steps are completed. However, eventually I have to commit to SOMETHING.

Puffins - Stykkishólmur, Iceland

Puffins – Akureyri, Iceland

Decide who is going: After I’ve done the research and get close to choosing my destination, I start talking about the potential trip. I generally keep the discussion to my husband and two adult children to start. I may include friends including those I’ve met on previous trips who were particularly fun travel companions. We toss around dates and activities. I’ve noticed that people are pretty non-committal during this stage. Most of my friends and family are AOK with me doing the research and planning.

Corolla, Shamana for villages surrounding San Regis, Peru

Corolla, Shamana for villages surrounding San Regis, Peru

Decide when to go: This is where I pull out the maps and scour the Internet for average temperature and precipitation charts. I look at what I’ll be doing and map that into the equation. For instance, I chose mid-June to go on safari in Tanzania because it was just past the rainy season but not so much into the dry season that it would be too dry and dusty. I went to Iceland in July because it was warm, relatively speaking, and had nearly 24 hours of daylight. Of course this plan excluded seeing the northern lights because it was never dark out. High season in any destination is going to be during the ideal weather conditions so you may have to pay more during this time. You might have to deal with crowds if you’re going to more touristy or city excursions. Choosing dates just outside the high season can keep the costs from being prohibitive. Other times you just have to go when you can go. For instance, I went to Italy in August because that’s when my daughter was going to be there on a work project. It was super hot but we were going for the art anyway.

Humpback whale - North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

Humpback whale – North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

Choose to self-guide or hire an outfitter: This is pretty straightforward. If the adventure is easy for me to plan, I’ll plan it myself. If I’m looking to go to a third-world country or the arrangements are complicated, I’ll probably use an outfitter. Language may or may not be a barrier. However, sometimes an outfitter has a trip set up that includes nearly everything I want to see and do plus they drive you around and set up where you’ll sleep. Some even include airfare. If there isn’t a huge premium for these services, I might just pick that option.

Rappelling Waterfalls -Turrialba, Costa Rica

Rappelling Waterfalls -Turrialba, Costa Rica

Make a commitment: Gather up all your materials. Get comfortable with your choices. Make sure your traveling companions are comfortable. Then take the leap. Put your deposits down. Make reservations. Then get ready for a busy and exciting time as the weeks and months tick by till you’re ready to go on your adventure.

I’ll be writing future posts detailing the self-guide and outfitter options plus tips on preparing for adventures. For now, I’ve successfully moved my wanderlust from an itch I need to scratch to one I need to slather with Calamine lotion. So off I go to step 1 – Ireland seems high on the list today.