Let’s say your first choice is Museum X.
It opens at 10, you figure two hours to see it, so you want to be there when it opens.
Open Google Maps (the regular one, not your My Maps).
Ask it how long it will take you to get there from your hotel.
Hmm, are you on a faresaver transit pass so you can’t start till 9:30? Oops!
Record the details of that trip. Here’s a fictional example of what you’re trying to build:
- from the Blurgle Metro across from the hotel, take the Blue line (every 5 minutes) 6 stops north (direction Cockfosters) Ferruvia; exit 2
- Walk south 10 minutes on Museum St. It will be well signed.
- When you get there, look for the ticket entrance in the west side.
- We’ll have the museum pass, so we go straight to the turnstiles.
You’ll be here 10-12. That probably calls for a coffee break and lunch. So you add notes:
- Cafe Lysander in NW corner of 3rd floor has great coffee
- Museum Cafe on 6th floor TA 4 has good sandwiches, and there are food trucks on the street outside the main entrance
Let’s give ourselves till 1:00 here. Maybe we’ll enjoy the sculptures outside the museum*, or use their free wifi to get caught up. And remember, only one member of your group has to want to go to the gift shop and you’ve all burned half an hour.
* you made notes during your research, right?
p.s. Feature stops get their own separate research page
At a minimum, note any timed things like tours, demos or movies.
A real example
We wanted to go from our hotel at Kyoto Station to the Gion District. Using mostly Google Maps, I collected options. We chose the second last one, because we knew that Kyoto Ekimae is the bus bay right outside our hotel, and this was a direct ride right to our target. Nine minutes slower, but we didn’t care.
An advanced example
Clicking on that picture at top left gave a set of pictures. When we found it, we were immediately sure we were in the right place. We felt such a release of tension!
On the way to the Singapore Zoo, we knew we had to change from subway to bus at Khalib station, exit A. How can we find that quickly and confidently? Ask Google Maps.
Maybe map a big day
In your Google My Map, you may wish to add a new layer for a single day, to give you a simpler map.
For a really busy trip, you might want several maps, each with multiple layers. For example, our 2019 trip had three nights in Paris, so Paris got its own map.
If you do one for EACH day, you can turn off the visibility for all but the current day’s map (leaving the transport and basic layers visible.)
You can click-and-drag places from one layer to another; it’s fussy but you get used to it.
You can also change the pins to numbered ones to show your day in order. That worked best for our driving trip where we pretty much had to do them in the planned order. In a city you may want more flexibility. But note that the pin settings for a layer apply to the whole layer, so if you want to go numbered for part of the day it will need its own layer.
Where to next?
It was going to be Expensive Mall, but you’ve realized that you will have been on your feet for two hours in the museum. Maybe the Science Centre will be just as good, and it has a 20-minute movie that will be your break.
Do the same thing as above.
- How to get there? How long will it take?
- How to get from the transit to the place? What do you do to get in?
- How will you see the place? Which parts are must-see?
- If you need a break, what are your options?
Repeat as needed.
Back to base
You’re probably ready to get back to base.
Same deal. How to get to transit, what to take, where to get off, how long it will take.
It’s really important to crash now.
Soak your feet, go sit at the bar, read, watch some TV, get on Twitter, whatever.
If you don’t, your dinner plans will turn into a bag of chips from a kiosk.
This is especially important if you have evening plans like a show. There’s nothing like falling asleep in a $100 seat while watching a performer you crossed six time zones to see.
Whatever, but some tips:
- if you have special places planned, do the planning on how to get there and back. Note the timing, especially if you’ll have a reservation
- Always have a list of places near your hotel that will be OK for dinner.
- Before you go, discuss with yoru travelling companion(s) what you will do if one of you is all good to go but the other is all, “bleh.”
We aren’t party animals. We don’t do nightclubs and bars.
Some days dinner would take us well into the evening. Other days we’d maybe have theatre tickets or something.
For us, the important thing about the evening is that we could do most of it sitting down.
You laugh. You’ll remember this when you’re our age.
Once you have an outline that looks as if it will work, you can drop a LOT of detail from your notes.
For example, once you have made a booking for a hotel, you can take out all the other candidate hotels for that city, and drop them into the “attic” folder for that city. You never know, you might have to change your plans, or you might have friends going to that city who might like your second-choice hotel better, so why waste the work you did?
For the hotel you DID choose, you can toss many of the details that shaped your decision, and keep only the ones you’ll need on the trip. If you include the hotel you chose in the attic file, you can always look at the decision reasons later, or tell your friends about the hotel.
At last, we can generate the Real Plan
Now, at last, you have made all the decisions. The last step is to distill all your work into the Fine Details that you will actually use as you walk around.