We’re about to head out to countries 60 – 64: Qatar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Considering the number of countries and locations on this trip, we’ve been asked multiple times whether we used an adventure travel firm to plan this.
One of the great joys in life is navigating the variables associated with international travel, and bringing order – and a fulfilling itinerary – out of the chaos of infinite options and decision paralysis. For one of us, life exists in an X and Y axis. All information and variables can be accommodated, analyzed, sorted, filtered, and ultimately presented on such a grid.
Specifically, in a spreadsheet.
WolfeStreetTravel runs on Excel.
Logistically, our Christmas Southeast Asia trip (because who doesn’t think of Christmas when one thinks of Cambodia?), has been a complex planning process. But because we’re getting from one place to another by plane, this hasn’t been nearly as much as a challenge as when we’re dealing with trains, planes, automobiles, AND ferries that don’t run every day, as was the case (with the exception of trains) for our foray into Slovenia, Croatia, and Montenegro more than a dozen years ago.
So, for our Southeast Asia trip, the itinerary has (mostly) been refined and looks like this, in the world of X and Y axes:
Red is travel time, green free time, and blue represents engagements. The yellow layover is a yet to be addressed long – but not really long – layover in Bangkok on the way back.
There’s another tab (two actually – one for planning and one for packing) that contains matrices of hotel choices, activities options, URLs to travel articles, and screenshots of (mostly) flight options and maps. One table, though, really exemplifies our planning for this trip – which locations were served by nonstop flights, versus connections, which dictated where we’d go and the sequence in which we would travel:
Greens are acceptable options, yellow are candidates (but not great), and red are unacceptable. Blue is a critical path item (the only real option if we were to include Ho Chi MInh city with the other locations we had prioritized). NS is nonstop, 1S is one stop, and the numbers are the total flight duration. We determined candidate locations to visit based on travel articles and blogs, but based our final trip on the data in this table.
Previous examples include the only travel agent-planned trip last year in Southern Africa (much simpler, as a result):
And our legendary MicroNations road trip in 2017, where travel time was everything:
Hopefully, our upcoming trip will work out as planned, but now you know how it looks before we leave!