Subject: Re: The value of travel planning
Dear Don and Linda

Of course, travel planning is a topic that I love to share on, because it is one of my passions. Traveling is another, but in my mind these are two separate avocations. While the trip itself is a glory at the time it is taken, and forever afterwards lives in our memories and the changes we make in our lives because of where we have gone, what we have seen, and whom we have met, the planning is a daily activity that fills the months before our journey.

I have become an aficionado of guide books (not travel literature; I want to know exactly what I can see, when, what I can eat, etc.) and have dozens, and read dozens more from the library. If there is something to know about my destination that I didn't learn ahead of time, then it probably couldn't be found in books or on the Internet.

I collect maps, and Internet mapping and routing sites. I carefully weigh each hotel choice and cross reference them with various sources before choosing the one I really want. That way, we are seldom disappointed in our choice of accommodations. The same applies to restaurants.

And of course, being a planner has led me to TheTravelzine and several new friends, as well as memorable get togethers. The Zine has become a huge and rewarding part of my life. My computer skills have increased about 1000% due to my participation on TheTravelzine and my immersion in Internet travel research and planning. This is a rather nice side benefit, and I get phone calls all the time from people wanting to know how to do this or that on their computer. The same applies to other travelers: someone always wants my help and advice on something, which is a great boost to my ego.

Those who are fond of spontaneous adventure might think that planners are a bit obsessive and sacrifice spontaneity. I'm not sure how I would respond to that, except to say that as a person with limited vacation time, and the necessity of budgeting, careful travel planning helps me to squeeze every drop of enjoyment from the time and money that I have to work with.

Travel planning and writing about it have become a part of my career. I want to thank you for this topic because while writing the above, I was inspired to turn it into a little article of my own! This has been another benefit of planning: I was fishing about for a career change, and considered becoming a travel agent, and as a writing instructor, writing about travel just seemed like a better fit. But it was really all the time that I spent planning that led me to this idea.

Happy planning, Debbie in Pittsburgh