Saturday, January 4, 2014

Planning around events

As I'm trying to figure out dates to travel to the UK I've been looking around for events I might want to attend.

The last big trip I took, New Orleans last June, was so much richer because I found a really cool, free event I wanted to attend: the Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Music Festival. I highly recommend this festival. Last year it was located on the grounds of the Old Mint Building, but this year is being held in Louis Armstrong Park. I think the park will be a better setting for it, although the Old Mint Building is located right next to the French Market, very close to the banks of the Mississippi River. The Louis Armstrong Park is a lovely greenspace on the southern edge of the Treme neighborhood, and is not far from where I stayed in New Orleans.

I am now looking for an event somewhere in the UK that roughly matches my window of opportunity to go. So far, I haven't found anything that is really grabbing me. I only started looking today - pretty lame. The longer I leave it the harder it is going to be to plan for it. I know there are going to be a lot of events in Scotland this year as they are hosting another Homecoming (tourist gimmick to get people to visit there) but I haven't found one that has attracted my imagination. I am starting to look at things like TimeOut London, but they don't go very far into the future.

I am tentatively looking for something wonderful between April 26 and May 18. If you have any suggestions, intrepid traveller, please do share them with me. Kind thanks.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Travel Books Part 1

I like Rick Steves - his TV program, Rick Steves' Europe, his radio/podcast show, Travel with Rick Steves and his travel books.

I've read, and passed on to family, Europe Through the Back Door, and others.

This is the first time I, personally, am going to use some of his books to help me do some of the planning for my trip. Why so many "some"s in that last sentence? Don't you think there is more than enough information in his books for you?

Well, his books don't cover everywhere I want to go. He is selective in what he includes in his books. Being a travel guide and operating a travel company for so many years, he really wants people to see the very best of where they are visiting.

Yes, I want to see the best, but not to the exclusion of the quirky, the interesting, and sometimes, a little bit of the mundane.

So, I will scour some other travel books and write some reviews of all the travel books I read. Honestly, I've just dipped my toe into the books you see above, so I'm not ready yet to give you a fair opinion of them.

Call this a teaser. Or call it an invitation to you, kind visitor, to tell me which travel books you recommend. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

From dreaming to pre-planning

I've wanted to go for an extended visit to the UK for years now. This year I'm going to go for a while - maybe not as long a trip as I had dreamed about, but for a goodly amount of time (3-4 weeks). I don't have tickets in hand or hotel/hostel reservations made, so how can I be so confident?

  1. I have checked with my supervisor at work and she sees no problem with me being gone for that length of time as long as it isn't in the busy time of the term.
  2. A friend of mine is taking his Master's at the London School of Economics, so I have a London contact, but only for this year. I'm not sure what he will do after that, but it may not be in London, so this year has a bit more urgency about it.
  3. Two words: Aeroplan miles. I have saved up enough miles to pay for a very nice flight there and back.
  4. Savings. I have been saving on a regular basis, some for retirement, some for an emergency fund, and some for a trip to the UK.
So, with those items aligned, I am now into the serious pre-planning. (I'm going to use italics to highlight some of my irrational inner monologue. If it gets to annoying, please tell me and I'll stop. The italics that is. I've been trying to stop the irrational inner monologue for a long time and I haven't had any success at it. Mostly I just try to peacefully co-exist with it). 

How much pre-planning does anyone really need? Grab your passport, you know, the one you've kept valid all the time "just in case" and your credit card and go.

My mom used to always say "Half the fun of a trip is the planning." I believe this to be true.

Last year, I took a 1 week trip to New Orleans. I started planning it in late December, but I didn't keep any record of the planning process.

This blog is going to be my personal record of planning and visiting the UK in 2014. I will blog about all the aspects of picking places that are on my personal "must see" list, where I decide to stay, how the ticket booking experience goes, the luggage I decide to take, right through the departure lounge, flight, actual time there, and ultimate return home.