This is the first in a series of posts about planning your trip to the Caribbean islands. In the past, we have covered the photography gear we pack, but over the years, we’ve learned a thing or two about researching your trip, planning your itinerary, and what to pack. This first post is about organizing the research for your trip. Future posts will include sources of information for your research, what to pack, and general tips for trip planning.
The thought of researching your vacation is usually limited to planning your flights, hotels, and maybe restaurants or beach bars, yet there is so much more information out there to make your trip more enjoyable. We have found that when beginning to research our destination, we pick up bits and pieces of information about the island, and don’t always remember it or have it handy when we are there. My organization has changed a bit over the years, but here is what I use now.
I start a word processing document formatted for 3-1/3″ by 4″ shipping labels. The reason I selected this size is because the fit inside the moleskine notebook I carry along with me, leaving room on the page for additional notes I may wish to make along the way. On each label in the document, I will give it a heading, such as restaurants, historic sites, events, music, etc. As I read more and more about my destination, I add the information to this word processing document. I keep the document on my laptop desktop, so I can easily find it to add new information. When the trip arrives, I can print these labels and put them in the desired order in my notebook.
For each category, I put the information into the category in a way that is easy to navigate. For example, for restaurants, I will break it down by geography, ordering restaurants from north to south or east to west, or by town, in a way that will make it easy to find if we’re on the road and need something to eat. With the word processing document, you can easily rearrange the information as you gather new items. I used to write this by hand in a notebook, but the pages were a mess by the time the trip arrived. Using a word processing document, you can add as much information as you like and reorganize it as necessary. For example, I had one page/label for restaurants for our upcoming trip to Eleuthera, but found I had so many good suggestions that I could not fit it on one page. I then broke it up into two pages, one for restaurants north of Governor’s Harbour, and one for restaurants in Governor’s Harbour and to the south. I then ordered the restaurants from north to south.
I also take notes about the history of the island and sites we may encounter. When I return and start writing my trip reports, all the information about the island is in one place.
At the very front of the notebook, I place a label with all the important contact information for our trip, such as the property manager’s contact number, and any emergency numbers. That way, it is all in one place, and we’re ready to go!
Our latest travel planner, for our trip to Barbuda, can be found here: Barbuda Travel Planner
Part 2: Sources of Information – We explore what you might want to know about the island before you go, and where to find that information.
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