What is your planning style?
Our planning style is to be well-informed about a place or idea then being open enough to let the plan change a bit or a lot when in the moment. This style is for planning big decisions such as what country we want to go to, or smaller decisions such as what to do today. For instance, when planning to arrive in a place with many attractions to visit, we make a list of what we want to see or do, look up opening days/hours, then live each day choosing what we want from the list, or staying in our pajamas for an unexpected day at home in Charlie.
What resources do you use to plan?
We always on the lookout for interesting travel blogs such as ___ and ___ and ____ Sometimes our travel inspiration is as simple as landing on the images of a place while searching on the internet, or looking at a map. We use also have several travel guides including Lonely Planet, Eyewitness, Rick Steves, and Rough Guides both in paperback and ereader formats to further up our research. We like learning enough history about a place to give some context to what we’re seeing. Also, upon arrival to many places you may receive information such as maps, flyers and advice for local attractions.
What tools do you use to navigate?
Our primary tool for navigating whether driving across a continent or walking around a town is a free app on our iPad Mini called maps.me. After downloading country or region specific maps when you have internet, maps.me allows you off-line map usage. The app has a useful search feature and we take advantage of the color-coded map pins to plan everything from where to find great beer to what side-street we should be looking for to what campgrounds we’re aiming for. We also use the innovative website www.rome2rio.com to map out distances between destinations. Google maps is a back-up cross reference for the other tools. Both of these require an internet connection, so our most useful tool goes back to maps.me app.
Any other useful planning tools you’d recommend?
We use a paper map, yes, an old-fashioned paper map of Europe to highlight our route. While it doesn’t work well for day-to-day navigation, it helps us see the continent as a whole, where we’ve been at a glance, and plan our next direction. Our Michelin Europe Road Atlas has been a useful resource for laws, knowing when a high mountain pass is coming up, and for the distance finder. Neither of these has worked for us to navigate as the scale is not fine enough like on maps.me.
Why don’t you use a GPS?
Call it a hold-out for simpler living or maybe an aversion to always knowing where you are, but we’ve never felt we needed a GPS to navigate. We’ve embraced that feeling of being a little lost as part of the adventure. The only time it’s more stressful is at high speeds on highways or when we’re on small or bad roads and need to figure out where we are so we can go where we want. Generally, Tammy has a great sense of where she is, a strong visual memory, and no compunction when asking strangers for help, so we’ve always gotten to where we want.