I’m not sure how the “other guys” who own travel companies (yes, most are owned by men) build their trip itineraries. I instinctively feel it would start with a healthy serving of Excel spreadsheets and boardroom meetings with “accounting.”
That sounds sucky. At least to me.
When I create my summer Italy tours, I try to think … what would be awesomest? What would be bestest? What would be funnest? Admittedly, being grammatically correct has its moments. Obviously not right now though.
Which brings me to my next thought: Sometimes you gotta strip it down to the essentials before you build it up.
Sometimes you have to be visionary. And rebellious (here’s your permission slip to be so).
Accounting departments don’t usually have their finger on the pulse of these concepts.
For me, hitting the target means pointing the arrow towards non-tangibles like feelings and experiences instead of sights and the “checking things off the list” rigmarole.
Because anyone can see the leaning tower of Pisa. Who cares about that, actually? (Especially if it was pain is the ass to get there.)
What do you really want?
I doubt you’re going to Italy to see the Colosseum. Your neighbour might have done that, but maybe you don’t actually give a rat’s bum about that sight.
I have a hunch you’re travelling for something bigger.
What is it?
I travel because I truly believe that a rich life comes not from the things I have, but the things I do, and the experiences and people I meet along the way.
When you’re designing YOUR vacation, but getting caught up in OVERWHELM — just strip it down.
Ask yourself: what do I want to feel, to taste, to do (or to be!) when I’m away?
“How-To” like a pro.
Once you have your bigger picture — you build the details from your ideal.
You flesh out the “how to” of your trip. Meaning:
- How am I getting from A-B?
- Where am I sleeping?
- Where the heck do I park my car?
Those answers will be different, depending on what you’re looking for in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely obsessed with details. And timing. And flow. And a thousand other things. And I love every second of nailing that. Because that is an art.
I’d chew off my left arm just to make sure a client sees the sunset at exactly 7:47, from exactly that vantage point, with exactly that glass of bubbly in her hand. Because I know that moment will put enough wind in her sails to guide her ship for the next year. Or decade.
Nailing the details or NOT nailing the details makes a huge difference. It’s like the difference between french kissing the hottest guy you’ve ever seen, or just settling for the last one in the bar that night (no, not speaking from personal experience). Translation: one scenario makes you feel high as a kitty on catnip. The other … not so much. You feel me?
Have your strawberry gelato and eat it too.
My advice may sound counter-intuitive.
But I’ve been designing trips for a few years, and this is what I love about the process. It might not be how the “big guys” build their trips, but it’s my style I’ve honed and it feels right.
I’m building two tours right now (details to come) and this is great way to START.
It makes my trips feel effortless and exciting for my guests, and I hope my rebel-love tips will work for your trip planning too.
I understand that working out the finer details is easier for me because of my years of experience in Italy.
But honestly, you might not be an Italy expert — but you’re certainly an expert on YOU. What YOU like, what YOU want and how YOU want to feel.
So start there.
Then fill in the blanks with the details.
I know you can do it. I’m cheering you on.
Tear a page from my example below.
My perfect summer vacay vision for my Cinque Terre trips.
An Italian Seaside Village
Sleeping in sheets dried by the sun. Vino bianco in the shade. Cats sleeping under the oleander. Seafood pasta, al fresco. White dresses. Striped beach towels, stiff with salt. Warmness all around.
Pretty (and pretty strong) cocktails on wooden tables. Olive pits piled in a tiny bowl. Eavesdropping on a language you can’t understand. Sunglasses. Your novel. Swimming before lunch. Watching your toes sink in the sand.
Fresh Air and Exercise
Walking everywhere (you can reach everywhere because it’s so small). Your shoes on dirt paths through vineyards and olive groves. No car exhaust, or Vespas to dodge (why can’t all villages be pedestrian?). A world away from routine.
Kids play in the piazza. Mama hanging laundry. A father holding his daughter’s hand, and an umbrella, on the way to the beach. Locals diving from cliffs. Old men in wooden boats. Old ladies on benches.
Yourself smiling. Sun on your back. Your feet in the water. Curious eyes on you (from locals with dark hair). Lemon gelato on your lips. Cobblestones under your sandals. Space for daydreaming.
Coffee and jasmine blossoms. Just picked strawberries. Warm pastries in the morning. Sun lotion. Margherita pizza, slightly burnt on the edges. Basil. A man’s cologne. Salty breezes. Dry soil from the vineyards. Limoncello at midnight.
Does any of these summer in Italy words conjure up thoughts for you?
What’s YOUR reason for traveling to Italy?
What do YOU look forward to tasting, seeing, smelling and feeling when you travel to Italy?
I’d love to hear from you. Who knows, your words could inspire my next trip vision.
P.S. Do you share my perfect vacation vision? This Cinque Terre trip might be up your alley.