This is the 10,000-foot view from the overview. You’ve decided roughly where and when and why. Now you’ll see if it’s possible, make some choices, and discard some options.
You’ll put in all the details, such as hours, distances and timings, not yet trying to work out all the logistics. Your working file reaches maxiumum size here; in the next stage you’ll make choices and move out some of the content so you’re back to a file you can handle.
Here you will loop around in increasing levels of detail, doing the following:
- put places on the map and start grouping them; you’ll probably realize that some places are a bit out of the way and will burn a lot of time
- gather details of the sites you want to consider
- be sure to include when they are open and roughly how long you’ll want to give each place.
- document how important each one is (must-see, try to see, maybe see)
- get the website and Tripadvisor links, and dig into them. This is where you’ll drop some places, or change their priority, or adjust how much time they get
- work out where to stay – at least a general area or two; pick a few candidate hotels, and dig into their details. See if they have the kind of room you want at the price you want. If so, details can wait.
- sketch what things belong together, and might fit into a reasonably-paced day
- see if it looks as if it will fit in your constraints
- start collecting logistical details such as airport maps and websites, KML map layers for your Google maps, maybe some relevant tourist web pages you can dig through for such things as “how to see Haarlem in half a day” or “bicycle rentals on the Via Appia Antica.”
Once in a while you’ll need to stop and tidy up your files, consolidate, organize, delete, etc. Get those files out of “Urgent” and “Monday” and “TEMP” and put them in the trip folder.
I suggest that as many folders as necessary have a subfolder called “attic” or something similar, where you park things you probably won’t need but you never know. For example, if you get your hotels down to a shortlist of three, then choose one, you may want to keep the other two Just In Case. Indeed, we needed this on out last vacation, because our hotel of choice had a problem and we had to go to #2.