A Preoccupation With Travel Planning

A couple of weeks ago I emailed a colleague to tell him we’d be passing through his neck of the woods and suggesting we and the wives get together for dinner. He replied, sure, when are you coming? August, I told him. He replied, “Wow, I’m impressed anyone plans that far in advance!”

Many other friends have told me they don’t know what they’re doing next week, let alone six months from now. Truth be told, we have stuff on our calendar all the way to summer of 2020, but cut us some slack: it’s all tentative. After Christmas of this year, that is.

There’s great reason for this preoccupation with travel planning: as we’ve observed before, it’s half the fun. Actually, it’s about 7/9ths the fun. Trust me, I have a statistics degree and I’ve run the numbers.

Travel and travel planning is sort of like fireworks. It’s not the few seconds of bombs bursting in air, it’s the trip to the fireworks stand, the Beavis and Butthead-esque ribbing and snorting while shopping, the bragging about singed eyebrows and burned fingers of years past, the giggly ride home, the explosions, and the post-fireworks bromance. Another metaphor comes to mind, an old Rodney Dangerfield joke, but this is (usually) a family blog so I’ll leave it at that.

But anywho, our dearth of blogging might imply otherwise, but our travel plan development has indeed been in full swing. And an observation worth making is that while there is a huge glut of tech tools to help you track and book your travels, as well as a good number of tech tools to help you research your travels, there are surprisingly few good tools to actually help you plan your travels. That is perplexing to this old software guy, who has decided that a “good ole” spreadsheet is the best tool for his travel planning. I periodically look for alternatives, but nothing beats the reliability of my “Travels 201x” spreadsheets. I’m proud to say that in 3½ years of nearly constant travel we had not a single incidence of a booking mistake, overlapping dates, date gaps, reservations in the wrong city, missing confirmation number, or any other sort of travel snafu. Not a single planning mistake. That’s a pretty darn good record when you read some other travel bloggers’ experiences, like showing up in Berlin and realizing the hotel booking was in the wrong month and there’s not a single room available in the city owing to a sausage making convention (I will mention no names, but feel free to Google it). I guess part of that 7/9ths of fun is making sure I maintain that perfect record.

How does my travel spreadsheet with a perfect planning record work, you might wonder? Well simply this way: each row is a date, and there are three principle columns: where we’re going that day, how we’re getting there, and where we’re staying that night. Anything else you can keep track of is planning gravy, like keeping everything hilited in yellow until it’s actually booked. That’d be more like planning icing (lemon icing).

Segment of Chuck's Travel Planning Spreadsheet

There’s not a lot of lemon icing on our planning calendar between now and October. Yeah, that’s right, we’ve booked travel for the next 7 months. Lots of fresh blog fodder is coming, so hopefully I’ll be inspired to more frequently tell you about it.

Here are the hilites:

  • A 3-week swing through Florida, including a Parrothead festival and crashing the cruise line industry’s main trade show.
  • Visiting all 3 of the states I’ve never been to (Oklahoma, North Dakota, and Alaska).
  • Taking an Alaska cruise.
  • Visiting 17 states (big ones, mind you) and 17 National Parks. That’s right, 17 and 17. Don’t judge us, it just worked out that way.
  • Spending a month ideally situated halfway between San Francisco and wine country.
  • Sleeping under the stars about 40 nights…in a tent. Picture me, cigar in mouth, sitting somewhere out in the wilderness of the Great American West, wearing many-pocketed shorts and hiking boots and my Portuguese cowboy hat and pounding out wit and wisdom on my Mac keyboard. This should be interesting.

And if you’re curious, we plan to be home in Atlanta this Christmas.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to research some hotels in Vancouver for a nagging, lemon yellow, 2-day gap in our “Travels 2018” spreadsheet.

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