Trip Planning the Viking Way – Part Two

Still not a how to guide on invading England.

Okay, so we have talked about my theories on airlines and lodging options so let’s move on to more of the good stuff when it comes to planning a trip.  As I mentioned last time we are planning on heading to Los Angeles to tour some of my daughter’s college choices, so those provide the first parts of the data we will mix into our plan.

My go to is Google Maps, as they provide a great level of versatility and are easy to look at on a laptop or computer as well as on your phone when you are actually out and about on the trip.  I like to use the “layers” feature and for this trip I will eventually use four different layers to cover the elements that are important to me.

The first layer is the easiest one, it involves the location of the three schools that we need to tour on the trip.  These range from right by LAX to Pasadena and out to Santa Clarita, so they cover a lot of territory.  Which is a good thing in my book, as it provides plenty of options for the rest of the trip.

The second layer is where we really get to start having fun – things we potentially want to see and do on the trip.  I will generally default to whatever knowledge I have an area along with copious google searches to figure out what are some of the key things we will want to see or visit during the trip.  This is where you want to be very true to the things you like to do.  For me, I gravitate towards scenic hiking trails, parks, cool neighborhoods, interesting architecture and things that just sound fun.  I am not big on museums and too heavy a dose of tourist attractions (some are essential, but I just don’t want to over do it) is not my cup of tea as that’s just not what I look for.  My favorite thing is to generally find a great neighborhood or area and spend the day walking around and exploring all the nooks and crannies.  To each their own.  In any case I will use the second layer to map out the various things that look like fun so that I have the list as a reference, but also so I can start to see how the trip can come together geographically.

The third layer is my absolute favorite – finding the places I want to eat at for the trip.  Again, I will start with places that I already know of and then a healthy amount of google searches to identify some great places for food.  I have not been out to LA in over twenty years, so my local knowledge is limited, but thankfully the internet does provide a huge amount of resources.  Like when mapping out things to do, it is important to stick to what you truly love/like to eat and drink rather than just blindly following a list of best places to eat.  I will generally go through five to ten different websites/lists to get a fairly comprehensive map of places to eat.  Personally, I avoid using sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor, as I have never been a fan, but do look for local publications as I find they provide greater detail and you can uncover some places you wouldn’t necessarily find otherwise.  I will also admit to using the Food Network website, as I love food and watch far too many food shows like Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Burgers, Brews and Q and their ilk to not follow some of those recommendations.  I have definitely had some truly great meals in some of the places I have previously seen on TV. (Hello Hattie B’s)  Between those two types of resources I generally end up with a long list of restaurants on the map, more than we will ever have time to visit in one trip, but some of that will be determined by geography and what type of food we find.  One other suggestion is don’t be afraid to get very specific in your searches when it comes to restaurants.  You will get some great options if you Google “best places to eat in Los Angeles”, but things get really interesting if you look for best ramen, best fish and chips, or best pizza.  Just be prepared to get very hungry while you are doing this.  I will admit to having drooled on the keyboard more than once, but I have also been accused of planning my vacations entirely around food.

That still leaves one layer left to go, and then the job of bringing it all together to come up with a baseline plan for the trip, but I will cover that in next week’s installment.

The Free Range Viking

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