Trip Planning the Viking Way – Part One

Okay, so that headline makes it sound like I’m planning an invasion of England and that this post will focus on important things like knowing how many boats to bring, what the ratio of warriors to boat is, and how many chickens are required to keep a Viking horde fed before they can begin plundering.  That’s not what this is actually going to be about – just wanted to be up front about that so as not to disappoint anyone halfway through.

What I do want to share is the “process” I have been using and improving for the past few years to plan our adventures.  I am not a fan of pre-packaged tours so we mostly cobble together our own vacations – booking flights, rental properties, figuring out how to get around and most importantly figuring out what to do based on what we like and what seems interesting to us.  Sometimes that is the “touristy” stuff, hey we are tourists, but often centers around ensuring we know the places we are going to want to eat at, and basically just immersing ourselves in wherever we had decided to visit.

The hardest step is always deciding where to go, as we have a huge list of places we want to either visit for the first time or are anxious to make a return trip to.  For this specific example, my daughter, The Kraken, provided the where as this is part of her potential college tours this year.  If things progress as we are hoping and we can all get vaccinated, and campuses are open for tours, we will be looking to make this trip at some point in August before she starts her senior year of high school.  For this trip, that means Los Angeles, which I have only ever visited once for work, and that was about twenty years ago.  Which is why instead of just heading out there for a couple of quick days to visit three campuses, we will turn it into a week long vacation/adventure.

From a planning standpoint, I have a couple of go-to’s that I find work the best for us.  When it comes to flights, I do believe in trying to stick to one airline as much as possible so that you have some kind of status.  Status is not a bad thing when it comes to boarding earlier and points and such, but where it really comes in handy is when things go wrong – cancelled flights, missed connections, etc..  That is where status is important, as it definitely makes a difference on how quickly you can get on a new flight.  As we mostly fly out of Charlotte, that generally means flying American, and I have to say out of Charlotte the service has been pretty good.  Every airline has its issues, but thankfully overall I have been lucky.  (Before the world went into lockdown, I traveled at least a couple of times a month for work, so plenty of opportunities for things to go sideways).

Now when it comes to figuring out where to stay we generally work with two options.  If it’s a short stay, we will usually book through Marriott.  Like airlines, it is good to build up status with a hotel chain for a lot of the same reasons, plus Marriott has the best points program and that often means we stay for free.  However, if the trip is more than a couple of days then I definitely prefer renting a home or condo to give us more space and options.  My go to is VRBO, as again I have had great luck with rentals across the globe via their service, but do know there are a lot of options.  The price is generally less than a hotel room or suite and you get a lot more space and the ability to cook a meal here and there if you so choose.  If you haven’t tried it before, I definitely recommend giving it a whirl.

Now comes the real fun part, figuring out where to stay, what to do, and in my book the most important where to eat.  All of which I will cover in the next post, and share how I try and bring everything together for an easy way to view and plan all of the details and be prepared to enjoy your trip.

The Free Range Viking

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