Anyone who knows us is aware that we often take very long trips and this year is no exception. I’m going to use the next couple of posts to walk you through how we plan our trips and give you pointers on doing this yourself.

Inspiration this year came when our pastor said he was taking a group on a 12-day journey to the Holy Land just before Easter. We’ve always known we were going to take this trip. Someday. When the time was right. The time is right and this is the day.

But Dale doesn’t believe in going all the way across the ocean for a few days. Transportation to Europe and beyond is usually the largest single expense, so make it count! So we believe in spending some time and enjoy Ingrid getting to know our destination on a deeper level.

We also dislike flying and spending time in airports and as retirees we are seldom in a hurry. Consequently, we favor transatlantic crossings. So that’s where Dale tends to start…checking out cruise lines and their crosssing dates.

He creates a list of possibilities and we sit down to figure out dates for leaving and returning. Once we know how long we’ll be gone. We have a basic planning night. I bring to the session two blank, printed-off calendar pages covering the time we’ll be gone, sharp pencils, an eraser, a laptop and a map. Dale brings the cheese and wine.

We block out the beginning and end of the trip and then start brainstorming with the map and the Internet. We do a rough draft of what we might want to do. We pencil in thoughts on the calendar. We’re not overthinking this—yet. (That definitely comes later!). This is just a broad outline for a trip. Then we just let it sit for a few days. We will talk about it, toss ideas around, but usually don’t go back to the calendar for at least a couple of days.

This is the beginning, the way we hash it all out till everyone is happy. Sometimes it comes together quickly. Sometimes it can take weeks. This is how we start.

Next time, I’ll l get more specific about nailing down transportation and accommodations.