Friday, June 23, 2017

How to take a vacation with Post It Notes

We took some epic vacations when I was a kid.  I'm talkin' two week road trips to the east or west coast (equal distances from my landlocked home in Oklahoma). Dad would plan the whole thing without the use of any stinkin' internet to guide him and our meals came mostly from the cooler that took up half the backseat or fast food along the way.  This is how I learned an extreme distaste for anything at McDonald's before 10:30 am. The smell in our Buick Skylark was nauseating. I begged to roll down the windows, but on we rolled to our multiple destinations.  Dad would whip out his trusty map and we would hit the road.

Road trips in the 1970's and 80's were the best.

Today, we take our kids on trips, too.  But ours are different.  While we fly to some locations (Hawaii, New York, Florida), we like to take a good old fashioned road trip too.  We pack snacks but avoid childhood roadtrip foods like soggy pre-made sandwiches and fruit in a cooler.  Instead, we plan to stop and eat.  This is not the most cost efficient, but it allows us to stretch our legs and see what we can see along the way.

This blog post is not about a roadtrip, but it is about an epic adventure.  One that was planned and curated the new-fashioned way... jumping many hours down the internet rabbit hole.  I'd like to say that these things can be easily done in an afternoon. But unless there's an app I've never heard of, this takes time. And paper.  Specifically Post It Note paper.

Behold our trip to New York City.

Isn't it dreamy?? This makes my OCD sooo happy.

Now, let me start with saying this: everyone has different things they want to do and see in NYC.  Some of my friends go purely for the shopping and celebrity sightings.  Some go for the tourist-y stuff.  Others look for places that are off the beaten path.  This itinerary is a mixture of all these things.

Here are my tips for creating your own vacation planning board.

1. Gather your supplies.  Get a poster or paper in close size.  Grab sticky notes of 3 colors and a sharpie. Now you're ready.

*Side note: For NYC, we used two large papers.  The first was to divide the city into districts, the other to divide the days.

2. Discuss your ideas.  We started by sitting down the whole family and asking what they most wanted to see or do.  Each person could add their ideas to a sticky note and put it on the board under the district where it is located.  Ideas that were agreed on by at least 3 of us had a definite place on the board.  If only one person wanted to do something, they were overruled and not placed on the final date map.

These are the remnants of our planning.  They got the boot.

3. Color Code.  Use one color sticky note for restaurants, one for activities, and one for destinations that have a reservation.  The hubs loves food.  Almost more than he loves me. So he spent lots of time just scouring Trip Adviser for recommendations on great restaurants.  I loved seeing destinations: Radio City Music Hall, Central Park, and the Today Show. Those are fun things that don't cost money and can be photographed and left in the rear view mirror.  Activities were my kids' things.  We took a pedicab tour of Central Park that ended up being their favorite thing all week.  We also did a gondola ride from the Loeb Boathouse which was quintessential New York (That was my favorite).

Hubs wanted to sleep so we took an uber at 5:15 am JUST TO SEE Matt Lauer and he wasn't even there that day. :(

Haven't you always thought Al would be a great guy to bring to your party? He was as sweet and jovial as I imagined, even pausing when my finger malfunctioned on the selfie button and it took a few seconds for me to figure that out. Ha!

This was the gondola ride from the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park.  It took planes trains and automobiles to get us there with all our high heels and such.  But it was OH SO WORTH IT.

3. Make a plan.  Once we knew how many ideas were in each area of the city, we started placing them on days together.  We stayed in Midtown so if we were headed to the Financial District, then we might throw in Battery Park while we were down that way.  Maps and Pinterest are your friends!  Click here for my personal NYC board.  Consider leaving the last day open.  #5 will explain this more.

4. Take it with you! Many people ask me how I remembered all of our plans once we got there.  Are you kidding?  I lost too many brain cells having children.  I can't remember anything. So of course we folded that baby up and took her along on our adventure!  In Hawaii we taped it to the wall of our room, but in NYC we simply laid it out on the desk in the room.

5.  Sticky Notes are Moveable.  Every day we looked at what we had accomplished on the list and moved our Post Its around. If we had skipped or missed something, we would move it according to our interest.  Somethings got skipped altogether.  But others got moved to the final day.

6. Keep the mindset- everything is negotiable.  You may not get to go to the Brooklyn Flea.  And it's ok! (I mean, that's what they tried to tell me when they all ix-nayed my plan.)  We walked 50 miles in NYC this last time.  That's a lot of freaking walking!  Some days you may plan it all and need to abort your mission to take a nap in the room.  And that's ok!  You may run out of money at the end of your trip and need to eat pizza instead of steak.  And that's ok too!

Just remember that vacations are meant to be fun.  But if you fail to plan, you'll plan to fail.  We want to see as much as we can when we visit a cool location.  If you'd rather sit in the room and listen to the traffic below, do it!  But if you want to experience all that a new place has to offer, try this technique.  You'll thank me later.

Central Park, I love you in the summer.

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