I love to travel. I like flying on planes. I like discovering what toiletries a hotel has. I love seeing new places, revisiting favorite sites, and getting outside my own neighborhood.
The secret inside my travel bug is that I also love planning a trip. I’m headed to New Orleans tomorrow and have already had an amazing time putting the trip together. Everything about planning builds my excitement.
First up was deciding where to go. This was not a simple process. Nope. I researched about a half dozen destinations. What would we do in each place? How long would we need to spend there? A trip to the Florida Keys would need a full week, while a trip to Nashville would only need about 4 days.
What was the average temperature and average precipitation for our estimated dates? Maybe a little much for trip research, but when you’re travelling with someone who hates winter, you need these details for, say, Chicago in March.
All of this info plus a suggested itinerary (complete with pics) went into an animated PowerPoint presentation. Yes, I am that geek.
Questions of budget need to be considered, which means looking at a lot of hotel web sites after reading reviews on TripAdvisor and Hotels.com. I gotta tell you, if a reviewer says his room smelled musty, that hotel is off my list. Too many stays on Orlando’s International Drive in musty rooms taught me that lesson. And before you ask, the budgets for each possible vacation involved Excel and color coding. It’s just who I am, folks.
I pored over hotel amenities and parking rates. Was there a pool? Did the hotel have its own restaurant? How far was it from the hotel to places I wanted to see (carefully researched, of course, on Frommer’s and Fodor’s web sites plus city tourism bureaus)? What made a hotel stand out from the hundreds of others in each city I looked at?
The Florida Keys made it to the final vacation-selection round before dropping off, but some day I’m staying at Island Bay Resort in Key Largo. Why? They stood out. Each room is an individual cottage with its own grill. Our night in Key West would have been spent at Authors of Key West simply because I liked the theme.
I like big-chain hotels for their sleek, modern style and loyalty points. For a Chicago vacation, that might win me over. For a vacation in New Orleans where I want to experience the character of a city, I’m looking for a boutique hotel. The French Quarter Guest Houses nearly had me. Why? Some of them were reputed to be haunted; some were formerly owned by Marie Leveau; most were on the National Register of Historic Places.
I eventually decided on The Cornstalk Hotel because I wanted something a little more central to our planned activities and it looks awesome. Besides, the Clintons and Elvis stayed there! And, yes, it could be haunted.
I haven’t booked any dinner reservations yet, but I’ve looked at menus from a bunch of Nola restaurants. All of which has left me craving barbecue shrimp and beignets.
Ah, powdered-sugary goodness, soon you will be mine!