This is the time to sketch out how you’ll use trains, planes, a rental car, bicycles, gondolas,  walking, or whatever. 

You should do at least enough work to know how long it will take and what your options are for travel times. 

This information will probably affect how much you try to put into a day, and it may affect where you go. 


  • if you’re going from Nancy, France to Brussels, Belgium you might think it’s a straight run north on a train. Nope. Most trains between those cities go via Paris on high-speed trains. This is where your partner says, “Did I hear you say PARIS?!?!?”  
  • if you’re flying from London to the Swiss Alps, as we did this past summer, you have to allow LOTS of time at London Heathrow, and time to get there. It might affect where you stay the night before, if you want to get out before noon. And if you’re flying to Zurich or Geneva, you have to work out how long it will take to get to your end destination. 
  • If you’re going to Phoenix but have decided to fly into Las Vegas and rent a car because it’s a lot cheaper, this is where you research the area and decide how to drive it. Will you go to the Grand Canyon on the way? Stop at the Hoover Dam? Go past Wickenberg? How many stops and how long will they take? 
  • In Switzerland, we were going to end one of our days with a long cable-gondola ride. Then I checked and saw that the last departure was at 5 p.m. even in the height of summer. And from a station a longish walk from where we’d be. That would have squeezed our whole day, so I found a way to get there by train as late as 8 p.m. – and it turned out to be a lot cheaper and easier. 

If you’re driving

Even in North America, you have to decide if you need a rental car. If you’re going to New York or Washington, D.C., for example, a car is probably more trouble than it’s worth. And between some major cities it may make sense to take the train, especially in Europe or the Northeastern USA. 

This is a case where you might want to deal with a third party such as Expedia. One frequent traveller I know uses them all the time for car rentals, mainly because you can almost always cancel without penalty up to the last second

When we went to Paris recently, we wanted to include Giverny, only an hour away. 

Another time it might have been Versailles. Paris traffic can be, ahem, challenging, and Versaiiles is easy to reach by public transit.  Giverny is OK by train, but maybe a car would help. So we planned three days in Paris, then a car pickup the morning of our departure. The rental agency we chose had a pickup office near us, and within easy reach of the peripheral highway so we didn’t have to go across town (one Google route would have sent us around the giant roundabout at the Arc de Triomphe, no thanks!)

If you’re driving, Google Maps is your friend. There’s a separate page on that, but for now I’ll just say that it’s pretty good at estimating driving distances and times.

Here’s a map I made of Google’s predicted driving time (in minutes) between the towns we wanted to visit.   I already had the numbered dots placed on a map, so I took a screenshot,  looked up the distances, then used Photoshop to put in the lines and numbers.  

That may seem like a lot of trouble, but it was hugely helpful in planning breaks and lunch and arrival times, and even how to split up the days.  

At that, we still don’t see here how long we wanted to spend AT each place. So this is an input document, not a result!

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