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Old 10-01-2016, 09:57 AM
Location: We_tside PNW (Columbia Gorge) / CO / SA TX / Thailand
22,668 posts, read 40,039,994 times
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I will agree that 2 weeks is a pretty short trip, i would not expect to see all of japan, choose areas that interest you, and a few that intrique you, (outside comfort zone).

Study documentories, maps, books written by travelers / volunteer workers.

Lonely planet is a pretty good Asia resource.

We do realize that some people need a step by step plan, but leave yourself time to explore and meet people and go to places you will never forget. Like YS.... I follow the bargains and seldom go to the TOP SPOTS. The last thing I want to see are tourists and hawkers. I have gone to many countries and missed their top 10 attractions. I can see them plenty well on dvd. I like 'people' memories, who take me to their favorite places that tourists don't often know about.

We homeschooled and did 6-12wk trips frequently. Once the kids were age 8-10, they did the planning and budgeting. Each day was a welcome surprise to me. They would venture to the fresh markets and bargain in foriegn language and currency. Vendors liked that and the kids came back with great bargains and extra treats. (And quite a few surprises!).

You will remember the people and small things for many more yrs than you remember 'going' everywhere and seeing common tourist sites.
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:02 AM
Location: Chicago area
14,431 posts, read 7,945,283 times
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We start with Fodor's and research what we want to see. The hotels are booked through which ever sight has the best price based on our comparisons. By far the best tour guides are local friends. We met up with someone from City Data in Scotland and had the best time with them. The locals know all the good non tourist trap fun things to see and do.

Heads up my cyber friends across the pond
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:19 AM
Location: East Coast of the United States
17,312 posts, read 19,591,548 times
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Originally Posted by StealthRabbit View Post
I have gone to many countries and missed their top 10 attractions. I can see them plenty well on dvd.
That is very much not the same thing as experiencing those places in real life. No dvd can capture the feeling of dining and looking over Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower or walking around the Taj Mahal in full moonlight. Any time you are visiting places in a foreign country, you are a tourist by definition.

Also, it is much better to narrow down the search to cities and their surrounding regions. It is not very helpful to only go by the top 10 attractions of an entire country. Most countries have far too many things to see for the concept to be meaningful.
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Old 10-01-2016, 11:57 AM
Location: North Taxolina
1,008 posts, read 926,053 times
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I do what Grace said above - start with a guidebook (our library has them) and then Internet for the details. It can, however, be overwhelming, I agree. I do enjoy research but a completely unfamiliar area can take a lot of time. Information online can be unreliable as well, the reviews are all over the place and there is just ton of info to sift through.

Sometimes I do wish there was a travel agent and would even pay a small fee just not for having to spend days online. I don't think it's lazy, my time is not free either and I could spend it more productively. For the same reason cleaning services exist even though anyone can do that.

I feel travel planning also become exponentially more difficult when you travel with kids. When it was just two uf us - yeah, book a hotel and let the universe unroll.

As far as planning vacation in another country I'd try to find someone who actually is from that country. There could be a Japanese community in your town or your professional network could lead you to someone. They might be able to point you in the right direction quickly.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:10 PM
Location: Copenhagen, Denmark
10,531 posts, read 8,784,204 times
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We have our favorite places and new places, usually chosen almost randomly based on looking at pictures and prices. Each year, we do at least one of both. New places often do not turn into favorite places, but every several years, it works. Our search area is confined to Southern and Eastern Europe, and it has to have mountains, and swimming/boating. We prefer places with good food, but we are sometimes surprised in a good way, even in the Balkans.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:24 PM
Location: Fairfield, CT
5,849 posts, read 8,617,967 times
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I use a travel agent for big trips. There is too much I don't know, and too much legwork required that I don't have time for, to do the whole thing on my own. I have never actually met my travel agent. She was recommended to me and we talk over the phone and by email. She doesn't really have a "brick and mortar" operation and seems to move back and forth between New York and Florida while taking care of her clients.

While I like some spontaneity on a trip, I don't like to leave important things to chance, so she arranges all the various transfers (airport to hotel, hotel to ship, etc) unless they are really minor. She also sometimes gets good packages on the hotel stays. It's also important to me that when I'm in a foreign country, I have somebody other than a disjointed 800 number to call if something goes wrong.

For small domestic trips, I don't use a travel agent.
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Old 10-01-2016, 12:46 PM
Location: East Coast of the United States
17,312 posts, read 19,591,548 times
Reputation: 13100
You can also google "non-touristy things to do in _______."

It's more than a handful.
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Old 10-01-2016, 02:11 PM
9,224 posts, read 9,295,009 times
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My wife and I made a list of places we wanted to see about ten years ago. We've been to about 75% of them. After settling on a place, we consult different sources. If its a European country we usually go look at Rick Steve's videos. For any destination, we consult Trip Adviser. If its a destination in the USA, I used to use AAA Guidebooks. Although, I admit its been so long since I've done that, I don't know if they have guidebooks any more. I have some neighbors who have been to many travel destinations and I will speak to one of them sometimes. Library guidebooks are a decent source of information, but can be outdated.
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Old 10-01-2016, 05:41 PM
1,789 posts, read 1,453,022 times
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Originally Posted by Forever Blue View Post
The use of brick & mortar travel agents seem to be obsolete. How do you plan your BIGGER vacations, like 1-2 weeks somewhere like to another country in which you want a knowledgeable person who can give you the best for your money & know the in's & out's of various places, secret tips, etc.? (I'm not really talking about a little 2-day getaway.)

I'd like to go to the 2020 Olympics in Japan, but I'm wary about planning such a huge trip like that all by myself & how legit & reputable are the online travel planning companies? Please give me your go-to travel planning company that YOU use please. Thanks a lot!

1. Pick a place (general area or country)
2. Make list of must see places / things to do
3. Plan an itinerary that will let me accomplish a good amount of #2.
4. Add in enough time to relax and explore (the more I have traveled the more time I have budgeted here).
5. Look at major cities in area to fly into and start looking for tickets. Determine best type of accommodation and availability.
6. Come up with rough budget and purchase tickets.
7. Look more closely at locations I am staying and make note of some interesting places to eat and minor sites to see.
8. Use Internet to see what locals or experienced travellers recommend
9. Book room in area thats close to places I have searched out.
10. Be flexible and make a list of backup hotels and methods of transportation.

I use
ITA matrix
Google maps
Flipkey Homeaway etc
Rick Steve
International train/air/bus/taxi apps

Last edited by justanokie; 10-01-2016 at 05:49 PM..
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Old 10-01-2016, 10:13 PM
11,386 posts, read 10,537,353 times
Reputation: 6606
I just Google.
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