By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert
One of the biggest problems Anne & I face in making our personal travel decisions is “Where Should We Go?” You might think this is an easy problem for a destination specialist like us, but in reality, the more you travel to one area of the world, like Europe, the more difficult it becomes. Why? It seems so simple—do you revisit places you have been, look for new places, combine the two, emphasize cities, or peaceful stays in the countryside. There are so many choices—what should I do? And when all choices are great options, it becomes even harder.
We are facing this exact problem on our upcoming river cruise adventure in December of this year–what should we do after the river cruise and where should we go?
So, let’s explore this dilemma together and see if we can come up with a logical process that will make your decision-making easier and, more importantly, provide you a way to maximize your travel time. And you will get to learn our decision about our upcoming post cruise stay.
Travel Decision Making
In my opinion, there are 5 steps in the travel decision-making process. First, you want to go on a vacation somewhere. Second, you begin a search process, looking for some type of inspiration. Next come comparisons—what will I do or see while on my vacation. Now comes the suppliers and vendors–will their product or service that I select provide me the vacation I desire? Last, you evaluate the decision—did I make the right choices?
Vacation Time—I want to Go Somewhere
The first step in this process is a decision to go somewhere. During this phase, you have to decide how long you can go, develop some type of budget and select a general destination. During this phase, you should ask yourself–why am I going? Once you know the why, the rest of the decisions become easier. They always have for us.
The Search Process–Inspiration and Destination Knowledge
There are lots of ways you can begin your destination search. Usually it is a cool picture, maybe a book description, maybe a TV show or Movie or Video posted on the internet—it doesn’t really matter how it starts. You begin to see yourself experiencing something new, or perhaps returning to a familiar place where you can relax or be stimulated. Or maybe you just don’t know enough but want to try something new or different. Maybe you went to our website and researched some of the pages to learn about trip ideas or went to our Pinterest site and looked at the over 5000 photos we have taken during our travels or requested one of our 50 Europe City Guides.
Now that you have been inspired, you next need to learn about where you want to go. Destination knowledge is the combination of 3 types of knowledge–objective knowledge, subjective knowledge and experience knowledge. We use all three when planning your trips and, even if you don’t realize it, you do the same when thinking about (or better yet dreaming about) your upcoming trip. I wrote a recent blog about this subject—it’s called the Power of Knowledge—Our Gift to You. Here is the link READ THE BLOG
Travel Planning 101—Comparing What is Available for Your Travel
I think there are 3 main ways to make travel decisions. They are 1) advantages and disadvantages method (most common), 2) simple prioritization (best opportunity) and 3) to acquiesce to us. I also wrote a blog about this called Making Wise Travel Choices. Here is the link: READ THE BLOG
In the military, during our formal decision-making process, we used to call this phase evaluating the course of actions. We would decide on what to do and decide on the advantages and disadvantages of each course of action. While this was a more formalized process than is necessary for planning travel, it is essentially the same process you use to plan your trips. Each traveler makes a series of choices (courses of actions in military terminology) and then compares the advantages and disadvantages of each part of the trip to each destination.
Already this is sounding overwhelming, but we have a good solution for you—this is part of an earlier blog I wrote about the search process. Here is a chart I developed, addressing some common travel problems and our solutions to help you.
Trip planning does require a lot of work to get it right, and it is a hassle. Wouldn’t it be better to let us solve the trip research for you? Here are 7 Benefits to you if you let us plan your trip:
|Problem||Benefit to You||Our Solution|
|Will I get the best value for my money?||Spend your money wisely||We match the right vendor(s) to provide a trip that will exceed your expectations|
|Will I get the right trip?||A better vacation||We learn your dreams and turn them into a reality|
|Will I make wise choices?||A better vacation and no fear of missing out on great experiences||Our 23 years of experience in the travel industry coupled with our first-hand knowledge and numerous professional certifications will help us provide you with the best options available|
|Will I remember all the details?||No unforgotten trip details||We check all the details so you do not have any missteps or forgotten arrangements|
|Will I spend too much time researching my trip?||Saves you time & eliminates hassles||Once we know what you want, we do research to get you the highest quality, expertly planned trip|
|How can I best protect my vacation?||Peace of Mind||We can help lead you to the right people to answer your questions about insurance options|
|How do I know I can trust my advisor to do the best for me?||Someone thinking of your best interests||We are members of several professional organizations and we have earned the trust of hundreds of clients. We encourage you to read their comments about our service|
Trade Offs—What Can I Afford and What Will I Get?
I always tell folks we travel to Europe as many times as we can during a year until we run out of money—most all of us have constraints of some sort—time, travel costs, work demands, family situations—all can affect the desired outcome of your vacation. Here is simple advice–pick the level of products and services that will provide you the best value. Don’t let money drive the decision–every time we cut a corner on a vacation to save a couple of bucks, we regretted it. It always led to poor experiences. There almost always is the “sweet spot”–great value but not too expensive to bust the budget. Let us help you find it.
So, Where Do I Go?
The real answer is that there are usually no perfect choices. I do think it becomes easier if we help you, as you can see by the 7 problems we can solve for you in planning and taking your vacation.
For our upcoming vacation in December, we had to make a lot of choices on the pre and post river cruise part of our trip. Our travel buddies decided to go to Iceland; we opted out and decided to stay in Brugge for a longer stay. We choose that option primarily for a little more relaxing time in Brugge—familiar, great sights, good food and a chance to slow down. We found the right air at the right price after 3 weeks of searching and decided a longer stay was best. I’ll let you know in a blog in early 2019 about how the trip turned out (spoiler alert–I think it will be great!).
My Final Thoughts
As you can see, making wise travel choices, is more complex than you may have thought. Trip planning is not easy. Making sound decisions are critical to the travel planning process. Time and money issues are complex—we all want the best at the least possible price. We help you solve those complex issues, saving you hassles, time and worry. We are travel experts, ocean and river cruise experts, and Europe destination experts. We have first-hand knowledge of almost anywhere you want to visit in Europe. We know our products and the vendors who sell them to you. We have designed special tours for dozens of clients, led several and will continue to find just the right vacation that will exceed your expectations.
When you are spending your hard-earned money for a vacation, you want an advisor who can match you with the right trip. You want someone who will understand your expectations and fuel your anticipation (or excitement) to get you the best possible trip experience. And, you want someone who can help you with the decision-making process. We think we have all these qualities.
Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you! We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel. Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to help you: Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations! Your journey begins here!
HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years. He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years. He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees. His other Certifications:
- AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
- Viking River Cruise Specialist
- Scenic River Cruise Specialist
- Emerald Waterways Specialist
- Avalon Waterways Specialist
- Brit Agent