How I Plan My Own Trips, Part One

A little light reading…

A little light reading…

I’ve just started planning a trip for myself and my husband and thought it might be helpful to document the process as I go along.

As with any project, there are several categories of information happening when planning travel (categories thanks to Donald Rumsfeld, of all people):

  • Things you know for sure (‘known knowns”)

  • Things you don’t know yet but know you need to find out (“known unknowns”)

  • Things you don’t even realize you need to know (“unknown unknowns”)

For this particular trip, the known knowns are easy: Sevilla, second week of November - I’m heading there for a conference and want to wrap our fall vacation around that.

The known unknowns are where it gets a little trickier. In this instance, I think I’m working with the following list of variables:

  • Timing: add days before the conference? add days after the conference? add some time on both sides?

  • Transportation: do we want to rent a car or rely on trains/planes?

  • Direction: (This is the big one, for me)

    • head west to Jerez and drink a ton of sherry?

    • do a classic Andalusian swing through Marbella, Granada, Cordoba?

    • head to a wellness resort? SHA Wellness, one of the world’s best, is near Alicante…we could combine a visit there with a few days in Valencia…

    • check out the Balearic Islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera)?

  • Activities: what are we most interested in doing? relaxing? exploring? eating?

  • Variables: what’s the weather going to be like? will the best hotels in places like Marbella and Mallorca be open in November? do things close for the season? are there holidays during that period of time that I need to be aware of? is it soccer season?

As for the unknown unknowns, those tend to pop up during the planning process and are sometimes sweet surprises but, other times, unpleasant and cause me to need to course correct. Fingers crossed that I’ve thought of basically everything I need to know, but it’s not the worst thing in the world to have to remain nimble and adjust.

If this were totally up to me and I didn’t have to factor anyone else in, I’d just look at all the available hotel and resort properties, choose the ones I wanted most to see, and then base the trip around that. I’ll start there, present those options to my husband, and then work based from his preferences.

Coming up next: what I’m looking for when I look at hotels.

Kathleen Sullivan