Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Travel Agents 'R Us
I have two upcoming business trips: one to China, and one to Dallas. Not surprisingly, I'm adding vacation days to both trips, so the first order of business was researching all the possible things I might do in each place. By "all," I mean ALL. Guidebooks and Internet sites have been exhausted.
Next, I had to build an outlined itinerary. (I really missed my calling. I should have been a travel agent.) The trip to Dallas is pretty easy. I only have one day to myself and I picked 4 sights to see. I've already been there once, so don't need to go back to the Book Depository. Plus, my hotel was chosen for me. I spent a fair amount of time looking at flight schedules that will give me more free time, and found the ones I want. Dallas is pretty much done.
China is another matter. This is where things get tricky. I'm going on business, so the week of business - hotel, schedule, dates -- are taken care of. My co-worker is going with me and she's never been, so we padded two days beforehand to explore. Then, after my business has wrapped up, my family is flying out for a week of vacation. So, I have sight-seeing to plan before AND after my business there. And both parties want to see basically the same things. Which I've already seen on my last trip to China.
It sounds like all this repetitious excursion planning should be easy, but it's not. There are some things I don't mind doing for a second or third time, some that I just don't want to do again at all, and some things that could be explored differently. I actually started a spreadsheet to figure it all out. I have to finalize itineraries soon because I need to choose hotels for the vacation parts of the trip before I can book tours (which will pick us up at said hotels). Plus, I need to have hotel reservations in place before I can apply for the trip visas we'll need.
Choosing hotels isn't easy! I want to optimize hotel reward programs, plus get a good deal, plus be centrally located. I've got maps out and reward program numbers all over the place. I want us to be able to walk and sightsee from our hotel but don't want to pay a fortune for rooms or cabs. I really need to finalize the list of things to see.
So far, I've reserved flights, made a spreadsheet of the best tours and sights I want to see in China, and figured out my extracurricular itinerary for Dallas. It sounds like I've accomplished very little despite the number of hours I've been working on this. But I consider this my researching and outlining stage. As with writing, once I do this legwork, fleshing out the details will fall into place quickly. Or so I hope.