Investing time in planning nearly always brings a better travel experience. Still, how individual travelers go about that planning varies, largely depending on personal preferences and priorities. Some travelers like the planning process nearly as much as travel itself. They dive deep into every detail. Others want nothing to do with it. They commonly employ the services of a travel agent for that very reason. Nothing new there but also not what this is about. Today we’re talking about the difference between good travel planning and a new term in this space: deep travel planning.
Good vs Deep Travel Planning
A good travel planning model to follow for airline tickets: buy the airline ticket then immediately pick a seat, if the airline permits it.
Deep travel planning says buy the ticket then immediately pick the seat but add a few more critical steps in the process. Check that airline reservation frequently between booking and flying. The seat assignment, aircraft or flight times might have changed. If buying that ticket far in advance, know the airline luggage rules at the time of booking and check again just before flying. They may have changed.
Deep Travel Planning = Object Of The Game
The effect of deep travel planning reduces the odds of the actual travel experience straying far from that which is anticipated. On the scene of where travel is taking place, that limited disparity allows time and an environment where we can consider, develop and gain more from our personal travel narrative. Put simply: if we don’t waste time doing annoying things when traveling we will have more time for the reason we want to travel in the first place, whatever that reason might be.
This entire discussion happens to fit very nicely into my personal travel narrative: preparing for a rather intense river cruise coming up in June. Viking River Cruises’ Grand European Tour is a two-week journey from Budapest to Amsterdam on the rivers Danube, Rhine and Main. We cover over 1,100 miles on water plus untold miles on land as we tour along the way. Having done this itinerary once before, I remember one gigantic element of the actual experience not in brochures: the opportunities for amazing travel experiences can be daunting. That’s if all goes according to plan. If we’re reasonably lucky, some variation to the planned itinerary will happen. Deep travel planning done: that variation in the plan can be one of the best parts of the entire experience.
So…with me so far? Good. Now let’s see how deep travel planning resolves in real life, using our upcoming Grand European Tour and my checklist of resources to explore:
Viking’s Suggested Reading List– One of the things on that list is a map of the route you will travel. I’m sending one of those to each couple as you will want to refer to that often. Keep in handy. The locations you will visit will come up repeatedly via the other resources on this list. When they do, find them on the map. It will take a little time to begin but as you go through the other resources they will mean more if you know where they are in relationship to each other. For example, one of the places you will visit on your Grand Euro tour is Marksburg Castle. We’ll use that as an example moving forward on this list
A Link To Your 2018 Itinerary on the Viking Website– this one you need to bookmark on whatever device used to see things on the internet with. You’ll refer to it often so make it efficiently easy to get to. In my case: Grand European Tour- Budapest To Amsterdam.
Viking Video Library on the Viking River Cruises website– Over the years, we have compared our actual experience with that of the experience depicted in Viking Video, finding zero disparity between the two.
River Cruise Radio– A good resource in a totally different format is River Cruise Radio, a weekly podcast that covers a variety of river cruise topics ranging from general information to specific voyage reports by people who have sailed. Of particular interest here: answers to listener questions of a general nature about river cruising. Here is a favorite episode
Exploring More– this is another Viking Video library of short films that is pretty new- some of the same some different, a good resource in any event
Movies- A common reason people choose a European river cruise is because the ship passes through parts of the world that often appear in films of all kinds. If you have access to a library of films like Netflix or Amazon video, running a search of the place you will visit and topics commonly associated with them is a good idea. Odds are you will see places and say “Oh, that’s the place from (insert name of film)!” James Bond films, for example, often reference places you will visit. Actually, let me know if you have Netflix, Amazon Video or some other video service. We’ll be doing this and I’ll send along links to applicable films.
The History Channel and/or other sources are good choices for learning more about the topics you will experience first hand.
Your Family Tree– You might already have personal connections to some of the places you will visit. If not, this is a unique time to make those connections first-hand, taking advantage of being there. Ancestry.com is a good place to start.
Articles Here At ChrisCruises– As mentioned, I have done the Grand European Tour before, also from Budapest to Amsterdam. That said, Viking is constantly updating and improving what they do so reviewing my last experience, while not a bad idea, is going to have information that is a bit dated. Then again, some parts of it won’t change. The Viking Longships, for example, are all identical. The places visited that have been there for hundreds of years also not much change
The easy part to miss here is the enabling effect deep travel planning has on our personal narrative. Put another way, deep planning sets us up to get the most out of our time, adding the opportunity to go beyond simply being there, along for the ride. That’s a significant factor when deep travel planning is matched with a travel product that supports what it can bring.
Viking does that.
See the culmination of these efforts here in our Grand European Tour Planning Guide