Now, this is ironic. I was just sitting down at my desk to start the planning process for my upcoming travel season, when I got an email from Blake, our director of digital marketing, asking me to pen a quick blog post on “How to Choose an Adventure Vacation.” I like to look at getting as much of my traveling done from January through May so I am here at home base in Montana when our busy domestic season kicks off. So with that said here goes – kill two birds with one stone.
The following is just my way of getting started. The order of these steps may change and you might add a few of your own; everyone needs to figure out and go through their own process. Just think of it as the Who, What, Where and When – it’s that simple.
I like to start with who is going. Is this a family vacation, a special occasion for one of the kids, a getaway with Carol (my wife), or is it me time?
Next I think about when do I have the time? Who is going is essential because if it’s a family program, aligning everyone’s schedules can be a real challenge; the earlier you start planning, the better.
For this exercise, let’s say it is a getaway for Carol and me. We are planning a work related trip – a bit of operations and quality control for me and a bit of sales education for Carol. Since I am going to try and squeeze two trips in before the 1st of June, I am thinking the latter half of February is perfect for trip number one.
Now that we have the who and when, it’s time to think about the where. In our case, we have two "adventures" that we want to check out: our Peruvian Amazon Cruise and our new “Glamping” program. Now before you get your heart set on a specific destination, be sure to check on the season. You don't want to find yourself in Namibia during flood season or in Alaska in the middle of January. However, you don’t need to go during peak season either, in fact, there are some great benefits to traveling during non-peak times. Just know what you are getting yourself into. For our trip, we are coming in at the tail-end of the rainy season, so we will push it as late as possible in February and tailor our route with this in mind.
OK, so we have the who, when and where. Now let’s look at the what. In our case we have very specific reasons for traveling and will want to see all the activities, hotels, and details of the adventures in the area we offer. You may have many different things motivating your destination. You may be interested in a certain location like a special hotel you heard about or a colonial city you saw in a magazine. Maybe your travel is activity based. Are you an avid cyclist, hiker, or white water rafting enthusiast? Maybe you just want some quiet time to immerse in a foreign culture; it’s all up to you!
You will need to look at your laundry list and start thinking about the duration of your trip and your travel budget. It can be less daunting if you think about what you can spend per day. Are you thinking $300 per day, $500, or more? The more days, the bigger your budget will be regardless of your daily per diem.
With the who, when, where, and what all coming together and your knowledge base growing, it’s time to get into the details. Personally, I recommend reaching out to an expert. This is by far my favorite part of any planning process. I love talking to the people that know first-hand what to expect and are passionate about sharing their country or culture. I made two calls: one to our partner in Peru and one to our connection with the Amazon Cruise. This is where you can really start filling in all blanks. Be sure to keep copious notes and build a file. You might end up switching gears and taking a completely different path. If you do, A) That's part of the adventure and B) you can refer back to your efforts for another time.
Armed with all the insights and information you have now gathered, it’s easy and fun to pull it together and start making commitments. A word of advice here: don't wait too long. Adventure Travel is exploding. Hotels, transportation, and use permits are all getting harder and harder to get, the sooner the better.
I will pen another blog soon about what is next after you’re all booked. What you can do to make the most of your precious vacation time. But for now, dig in, have fun, and enjoy every minute of the process!