Because it’s fun. Because it can improve the quality of your trip. But also …

Oh, if only we’d known

Loss: We went to Basel, Switzerland and missed their famous Tattoo by one day. We could easily have made it work, but I just didn’t think to check for dates just outside ours.

Rewards from the extra work

Win: We were arriving at Osaka late at night, so we booked a hotel at the airport. We were planning to go to Kyoto in the morning. All the trains, especially the affordable ones, went through Osaka with a change of trains. I worked out how to include a bit of sightseeing, then thought about all the suitcase wrangling. A little more work, and there’s a train directly from Osaka airport to Kyoto. 

Win: While digging through an Events calendar for Singapore, I discovered the Changi Parade (picture above,) one of the biggest events of the year, right on our dates.

Win: We were arriving at Rome airport very early in the morning. Next stop was Florence, but all the trains seemed to go into Rome first.  But when I was researching our onward trip from Florence to Venice, I noticed that one train leaving Florence every morning came from … Rome airport!  We made it, after an adventure I’ll write about another time.

Win: Here’s a half-page for our arrival in London after an overnight ferry and a train. We need transit passes to get around London, and that’s complicated.

(Later we’ll see the spadework that produced the above)

Hold your own hand at stressful times

Some parts of a vacation call for more detail than others. Here’s an example. 

Some years ago, I did some planning for our son’s trip to Hong Kong. That was the first time I really went down the rabbit hole of detailed planning. We hadn’t even been to Hong Kong ourselves at that point. Two years later, I got to follow my own instructions. They worked, as they have done for quite a few of Son’s friends. 

Son and his wife arrived at night after a very long flight, exhausted and half-dazed. They reported that they followed my instructions to the letter, and sailed through all the steps to arrive hassle-free at their hotel.  After a few steps they were ready to trust the instructions. 

Here’s a taste of what you can do with Google these days:

  • I knew where and when they would be arriving. 
  • I reminded them to go left and look for the tourist office (photo) that would sell them train tickets.
  • I provided the hours it was open (I knew that the more obvious office wouldn’t have been open when they arrived). 
  • I told them which tickets to buy and why.
  • How long the train would take and where to get off. 
  • Which exit to use from the station (some Asian stations are half a mile long and have ten or more exits). 
  • What landmark to head for (photo) and where to turn when you get there. 

The sequence was determined from airport maps and TripAdvisor Forum tips. 

If we had arrived outside core hours I would have checked what is open when we arrive.

Note that address of the hotel in Chinese, just in case we end up in a cab. 

By the time you’ve wandered most of this site, you’ll know how to create the above – or a less detailed version of it. 

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