The first step in planning is getting a lay of the land. We read travel guides (Moon has been a past favorite) and purchased a quality map. We scour blogs and Trip Advisor and create a must-do/ must-see list. I like reading other families' blogs, to give a 'less commercialized' take on favorite things to do. We read, we highlight, we dog-ear pages, we Pin and bookmark... until a bigger picture forms. Pinterest has been a great, new resource for trip planning...not only for scoping out other blogs and articles to read, but for organizing our research. Here is our Costa Rica Bound board.
Time spent doing vs. time en route:
Costa Rica is diverse and has so much to offer. It was difficult narrowing down the areas to focus our time. Pre-baby, we would have tried to squeeze in as much as possible (but that would mean a lot of driving). We've decided to scale back and split our time between fewer destinations. We chose Monteverde (and vicinity) and the Caribbean coast. The goal is to spend less time en route and really soak up all that each distinct area has to offer. Pre-baby we would have relied on public transportation (always memorable and part of the adventure), but this trip we are opting to rent a vehicle.
(bumpy bus ride in Belize)
Planned vs. spontaneity:
I envy the free-spirited traveler that shows up and sees where the road takes her. That just isn't realistic for us, due to time constraints and our budget. I won't waste precious vacation time doing menial tasks, like searching for places to stay (been there, done that). More on choosing places to stay in another post! However, rigorous itineraries leave little room for exploration and spontaneous adventures. Don't dismiss recommendations from locals, hosts and fellow travelers. Our FAVORITE experience of all time, was the result of taking the time to sit and chat.
Active vs. relaxation:
We usually need a vacation after our vacations. We go go go. This trip we are planning for more down time. An afternoon spent at the pool or an evening car ride, time to re-coop, relax and hopefully prevent an over-tired, over-stimulated baby.
Jungle vs. ocean:
Both. We are starting in the jungle for action-packed days. Think trekking in the cloud forest and peering into volcanos. We will then make our way down the coast and end our holiday at the beach.
(the most beautiful water ever. EVER. Antigua)