The Planning Process: Step 3
It has been awhile since I have posted about our planning process. In part because April to September is my busy time of year and I am working 7 days a week teaching swim lessons and water fitness classes. That doesn’t leave much time for planning and dreaming; but in order to be ready to hit the ground running in January the process can’t be entirely put on hold.
We have purchased the Michelin map of Mexico so we can refer to it while we do our research. We also bought the Lonely Planet Mexico book. I love to do my research online but I also love to have a book to highlight, make notes and dog ear the pages. Lonely Planet is full of great ideas and suggestions and breaks down Mexico into easy to understand sections.
Another valuable tool are the travel groups on Facebook. This is a great way to get fast answers and suggestions, and also a wonderful way to follow the adventures of others and get great ideas. If I see a link I find valuable or suggestion I add it to my files. It also helps keep you excited when you see others share photos and videos of their experiences. Firsthand information and recommendations are always so helpful.
When I find something that I want to remember and research a little more I have two ways that I file that information away. One is electronically. I have folders in my email labeled for each of the areas we will be stopping, and when I find a good link or suggestion, I email it to myself and place it in the appropriate file. The second way I have of filing information is in a good old fashion notebook. This is the same notebook I used when I was a producer and also when I was doing group travel. It is a sturdy leather loose-leaf notebook that has several dividers that are pocket folders. I have a section set up for crossing the border and then by each place we will be visiting. I jot down notes of places of interest, things to do, suggestions, reservation information, contact numbers, etc. This will also be where I make notes, so I can remember names of people, places we ate, highlights I want to remember, and the pockets in the divider are great for stashing business cards, pamphlets and receipts from each place we visit.
I am not the most organized person, but I have found that traveling with my notebook has helped over the years. Depending on how I am traveling I have used the dividers for days of the trip, program, guests, scenes we will shoot or, in this case, preparation, border crossing and locations. So far my sections include, but won’t be limited to: US to Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, Puebla, Oaxaca, Campeche/Merida, Telchac and Puerto Aventuras.
With my busy summer schedule, it is nice to be able to take breaks every once and a while and check in with the Facebook Groups and google some links they suggest, or spend my down time floating in my pool perusing my Lonely Planet book.
We have booked our airplane tickets to Philadelphia for mid-September to visit Caroline and Bob. That is when we will make the reservations for our journey from San Antonio to Telchac. The hours I have spent has helped me to figure out how long I’d like to stay in each location, and together we will compare notes and try and solidify those plans.
The one other thing that both Mike and I are doing is trying to learn Spanish. You would think after 20+ years of traveling to Mexico my Spanish would be better than it is but I am not great with languages. We have both downloaded Duolingo and we are pretty dedicated to doing at least a few minutes a day on our lessons. We also have tried Babel but I found that to be more like going back to school and not as enjoyable. Being able to converse in two languages is one of the things we are looking forward to. The question is can you really teach an old dog new tricks? We hope so.
We are so excited about our adventure, and even though we would love to throw caution to the wind and wander without a plan, it is best to know as much as you can about where you are going ahead of time. Have a plan in place and then be willing to be flexible and open to letting what may.