I am so passionate about traveling wherever, whenever possible. One of my favorite parts of travel is the time leading up to the trip- the planning, the dreaming, the visualizing. I spend hours researching my trips and getaways, and I enjoy this time greatly. The end-all-be-all in trip planning for me, is always Pinterest (this is my profile where I hoard travel boards). Pinterest is a visual search engine like google, and it is simply the most wonderful resource for travel, crafts, style, home and pretty much everything. I find it offers the best and most unique resources to start planning whatever kind of trip I want- tropical, urban, local. Pinterest can be overwhelming, especially if you don't know where to start, so I'm going to break down the process into very straightforward search steps so you can build your dream vacation! I'm going to use Bali as an example (because, come on, who doesn't dream of vacationing there)?
step 1- download pinterest and start saving tons of pins of your destination
Download the Pinterest app or go to the website on a computer and start with a broad search of your vacation destination. I would start by searching "Bali" and create a custom board. Save every pin that looks dreamy to you, pin it to your board. Save around 5-10 pins.
step 2- Continue to gather information.
Next you are going to search other aspects of your trip. I love searching phrases like "where to stay in Bali" and "where to eat in Bali" and "what to do in Bali." Save all of the pins that look good to you. You can stop the gathering stage once you have 25-30 pins of your trip.
step 3- Return to the custom board you've created and start skimming the articles.
I typically take notes with a pen and paper during this phase. The key here is to write down notes of the repeat offenders (and what people say about it). For example, when searching for brunch spots in San Francisco on a recent trip, I came across Mama's on nearly every list- people stated it was THE spot to go to for brunch in town and to order the Monte Cristo. I added these thoughts to my notes. I typically will have two huge columns of restaurants to begin with, and as I continue to skim and read more articles, I star the ones that are continually mentioned. Because you could end up with list of 20 restaurants if you write down every single one that is recommended, I would cross out the ones that are only mentioned once. I would also cross out ones that look good, but do not appeal to your particular taste buds.
step 4- Start assigning activities to each day of your trip.
Take a look at your various lists (what to see, what to do, and where to eat) and start assigning activities to each day. Be realistic when doing this part. I have a habit of jam-packing my itineraries with restaurants and activities, and it can feel a little overwhelming and busy when the time actually comes. Plan a reasonable itinerary with plenty of down time and rest breaks. Also keep in mind you probably won't be hungry to eat a big breakfast, lunch, and dinner when eating out for every meal. I typically eat either a late breakfast or early lunch when travelling because, I can only eat so much in a day. Writing out which restaurants you will visit on which day in your itinerary will help with this.
step 5- go back to pinterest and do a secondary search for missing pieces
Once you have a rough draft of your itinerary, if there any holes in restaurants, brunch locations, or activities, head back to Pinterest. This stage is also where Yelp comes into play. If there are a few restaurants that seem to be critically acclaimed, but you have a limited time in the locale, I like to see what Yelpers have to say about it. Sometimes reviews are like "this place lived up to the hype" or "not worth the hype" and I like to take those into account, but with a grain of salt. I generally live by the idea that restaurants that multiple people recommend in their travel guides, are probably good and worth visiting. Even if someone had an off experience and documented it on Yelp. Use your best judgement.
step 6- Finalize your itinerary
Finalize your itinerary, run it by your travel partners, make sure everything seems reasonable. Also, make sure your hitting all of the "can't miss" stops and sights. Ask for any last minute input from friends or family and prepare for an amazing trip!
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Do you use Pinterest for travel planning? How do you plan your trips? Do you like to use itineraries to wing it when traveling?