I love planning a vacation. You simply get on-line and after some research you learn of a new place ready to be explored. But, when you get to the logistics of planning a trip, it can become daunting and overwhelming. Let me introduce your two new best friends: Pinterest and Google Maps.
These two websites can be lifesavers while planning you trip. They are the two sites I use to stay organized and to plan quickly. Here are ways you can use these website to work for you.
Once you know where you’re going, whether it’s a country or region, create a Pinterest board with that name (ie. Itay, Southeast Asia, New York City).
Now, search that name. As you’re scanning through the pictures, start pinning whatever looks fun and interesting. Don’t worry about where these places are, how much they cost, and how to get to them, just pin. Try to get around 20 images. The more images you have, the easier the next steps will be. And it’ll show you’ve done your research.
As you are pinning, always notice the captions and see if there is a name included. Maybe a hotel name, the name of a waterfall, or the name of a company. Without a name, that picture is practically useless. If you don’t see a name, follow the link and find a name on the original website. Once you find it, make sure you write it into the caption before pinning. If you again can’t find the name, keep scanning the pictures until you find a similar picture with the name include. Still can’t find the name? Try refining you search.
This step is important. By doing your own research and not using a guidebook, you are discovering for yourself what is out there and what you’re interested in. Guide books are great for logistics, but searching a place on your own helps you take ownership of your trip. Besides, you’re taking time off and paying to go somewhere, why not do exactly what you want to do!
Pinterest is better than google images for searching a vacation spot. People on Pinterest have already done the work for you. They have already searched the internet vortex and found the most beautiful, most unique, most exciting, and most popular places in a country. Google images just shows you whatever keywords have been attached to the photo. And more often than not, the photo you’re looking at has nothing to do with the place you are searching.
This is my favorite! Ok, yes, I might be a nerdy map person, but this tool is amazing!
Log onto you google account, open a new map, and name it whatever name you used on your Pinterest board.
Go through your Pinterest board one picture at a time and google map each location. For each location, drop a pin (it doesn’t have to be exact, but a pretty dang good estimate) and name that pin. (OPTIONAL: you can add a picture by simply clicking the picture icon, typing in the location name, and selecting a photo. I do this to each location so that I can quickly be reminded of what was so special about that place whenever I review the map later.)
Once you’ve finished your Pinterest list, zoom out and take a look at your map. This is now your travel guide.
At this point you must choose where you want to go. Some pins are too far away and cost too much time and money to visit. Decide if it’s worth it or not.
Now its time for the logistics. Start researching specifics about the places you have pinned. Look up accommodations, sight seeing locations, popular restaurants and bars, activities of interest, costs, and opening hours. Be sure to type all notes onto your map so that you have always have access to them.
Google maps provides different icons as pins (money, house, car, food, drink, ect) all of which you can use to mark different things on your map. The more you know about where you are going, the more time you can spend enjoying the place rather than worrying about where the bank or bus station is.
Furthermore, research transportation you will use. Will you be using public buses or trains, or renting your own car? Which route will you take? You can draw lines and routes across your map. Use this tool to mark transportation routes, times, and costs.
The tools and features on google maps seems endless. Use these tools to make the map work for you, so that your trip is less stressful and more enjoyable. And the best part is that it’s forever online. Instead of hauling around a paper map that gets quickly damaged or lost, you can access your map with a simple few clicks. Yes you’ll need wifi, but it’s good thing McDonald’s and Starbucks are international and so popular. And if you can’t get wifi, just take screen shots. Regardless, Pinterest and Google Maps are a great ways to plan a trip and to stay organized.