Lori and I have named the two chipmunks that jump through the flowerpots on our patio Blue and Schnickelfritz. This is what passes for our entertainment during the pandemic. It’s time for a vacation.
It’s been about a year since I planned a trip that wasn’t canceled. It was New York City during Christmas, something I highly recommend you do once in your life. We took a short trip to Ellicottville, New York this summer, but Lori did most of the planning.
I’m excited to begin!
Planning a Trip and the Joy it Brings
“To the most beautiful moment in life – better than the deed, better than the memory – the moment of anticipation.” – Jacques from The Simpsons
Jacques wasn’t talking about taking a vacation, but he might as well have been. There are more than a few studies pointing to the pleasure of merely planning a trip. Often the positive feelings of planning a vacation can be the same or greater than the journey itself. From personal experience, I agree.
Where to begin? The destination.
As soon as Lori suggested Gettysburg, I knew we had our answer. It checks all of the boxes. There’s a historical component that I find fascinating, it’s within a four-hour drive, and neither of us has ever been there. Best of all, this may surprise some, but – the whole darn Battle of Gettysburg took place outside! Social distancing? Not a problem when you’re hiking and reading plaques in a vast field.
Admittedly, my knowledge of the famous civil war battle is limited, but I’m ready to correct this. Before most vacations, I try to read a fiction and a non-fiction book about the destination. And when I don’t feel like breaking out the Kindle, I like to watch movies, documentaries, and YouTube videos to get a feel for the history, people, and culture of the place I am going. For this trip, my travel-media list looks something like this:
- The Civil War by Ken Burns (at least the episodes that directly deal with The Battle of Gettysburg as I’ve seen it before and this is just a refresher)
- Gettysburg – the 1993 movie
- Gettysburg – the non-fiction book by Stephen W. Sears
- The Killer Angels – the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel about the battle by Michael Shaara
At the same time that I’m diving into the historical part of Gettysburg, I’m reading through reviews, blogs, and travel guides to get an idea of what to expect on our trip. Where to stay? What sights to see? Where to find a good cheesesteak? (I can’t be this close to Philly without indulging.) Yes, I’m the analytical type, and by the end of this process, I’ll have an extensive spreadsheet.
I’m not militant enough to put together a schedule of events with a strict timeline, but I like to have options. I want to know what restaurants, sites, or tours are open each day and what hours they operate. I also created a resource list for planning a trip in this uncertain time, which you can access here.
Plan a Trip Today
“This virus can stop our travel plans, but it cannot stop our travel dreams.”- Rick Steves
Travelers – I encourage you to take dreaming a step further. Begin the planning process. Immerse yourself into a good book, movie, or vlog about your dream location. Plan for the trip you might take next month. Plan for the trip you might take a year from now. Trust me (and academia); you’ll feel better.
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David Tuzzolino, CFA, CFP®, is the Founder and CEO of PathBridge Financial, a firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning and investment management services for clients that are nearing retirement and love to travel.