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VOL. 130 | NO. 57 | Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Wiedower

Lance Wiedower

Inside a Travel Planner’s Methods

By Lance Wiedower

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It’s a little-known fact, but a few years ago I started a trip-planning business.

In the early stages, I was asked how I can wrap my head around a complicated trip plan. I was in the process of planning a client’s two-week honeymoon to Europe, and a friend couldn’t understand how I could plan such an important milestone trip, especially without all the resources travel agents have.

Planning a trip of any size has its challenges, whether it’s three days in New York or two weeks in France. But trip planning can be a pretty easy science, and something I find oddly relaxing.

Start with the bones: What I mean is the foundation of the trip, the where and the when. I know I want to visit Southern California this summer, but when? We will spend a day or two at Disneyland, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary. So I can imagine the crowds will be atrocious.

But wait a minute. Logic says a majority of the visitors are families, and a quick search reveals regional schools are in session through much of June.

So visiting Disneyland midweek in late May when the crowds won’t be as bad sounds ideal.

I’ve picked my dates so now it’s time to check out airfare. If you read this space on Nov. 4 “Tuesday or Sunday: Settling the Airfare Date” you know that your next step is to sit down on a Sunday and start your airfare search.

Create a rough outline: With airfare booked, it’s time to fill in the broader details. If spending a full week in one city things are much easier. But if trying to fit in San Diego, Carlsbad, Anaheim and Los Angeles over a nine-day period, my next step is to figure out how many days I plan to spend in each location.

For me, the Rome Rule is the guiding principle. On a weeklong visit to Italy several years ago we managed to see the highlights of Rome in 48 hours.

So if we can see the highlights of one of the world’s greatest cities in 48 hours, we can do the same anywhere. I start out assuming no more than two nights in any one city, and then fill in the beach and amusement park time in the middle.

Find my bed: I Google “48 hours in …” or look at guidebooks to get an idea of the highlights of a city. I research our lodging options based on the location of our likely attractions.

Discover the details: Once my lodging is booked, I use the above research of things to do to create my detailed itinerary. And if any energy and time remains, I see where my can’t-miss eats are, because we all know any great trip is centered on food.

Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.

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