I find myself currently doing so, once again, for a much simpler, but still very exciting, trip to southern Florida that I have been planning since the end of October with a good friend of mine from Turkey who is currently living and working in Seattle.
I enjoy strategizing and planning for the entire trip from start to finish, because it enables me to make it:
1) The most cost effective/affordable travel option for me.
2) Convenient for my time and/or those I might be traveling with or visiting.
3) An opportunity for me to check off bucket list places to visit or things to experience.
4) Fun, enjoyable and stress-free throughout the trip.
Because visiting southern Florida in December, especially at Christmas-time, is expensive, I decided that my friend and I should do so before Christmas and to fly back home on a weekday, when flights are normally less expensive. Working closely with my travel agent at the AAA here in Norwalk, I was able to secure a fairly affordable flight to Ft. Lauderdale and secure a rental car for eight days that we plan to pick up and drop off at Ft. Lauderdale.
Travel convenience and timing is key to any trip. Selecting the right time of year, the right season or the perfect time to travel is often dictated by how much time we have available to us and for those we might be traveling with and/or visiting. This will allow us to see much or most of southern Florida without having to rush from place to place and spending too much time in our rental car.
Since I have bucket lists for just about everything, it is extremely important for me to check off some of these places and experiences on any trip that I take. Since one of those is visiting as many of the national parks in the USA as possible in my lifetime, we will be visiting Everglades National Park, which I had last visited briefly in Dec. of 1984. However, this time I will get the opportunity to explore the park longer and to take one of those very fun, exciting and entertaining airboats that I have always wanted to take. If time allows, we will also visit Dry Tortugas National Park, which can only be accessed by boat from Key West, one of the least accessible and visited parks in the national park system. Even though I have traveled to Florida on two previous occasions and have traveled to exotic and remote places around the world, I have never visited the fun, interesting and unique city of Key West nor any of the Florida Keys, so I am looking forward to doing so. As a geographer, seeing the southernmost point of the continental 49 states is going to be thrilling for me. As a history lover, visiting the summer white house of Presidents Truman, Eisenhower and JFK and of course the famous home of Ernest Hemingway, with its six-toed cats, is going to be equally exciting and interesting for me. While in Ft. Myers on Florida's Gulf Coast, we will visit the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, who lived right next door to one another due to their close friendship.
With most everything pre-planned and taken care of, I can now sit back, enjoy the holidays and look forward to this forthcoming trip with my good friend, who keeps telling me how excited he is about our trip. I am already looking forward to the sunshine and warmer temperatures. I love the anticipation of a trip, reading about the places that I am going to be visiting and experiencing, many for the first time. This sort of pre-planning and research on my part is what has made my literally hundreds of trips across the USA and around the world so much fun, successful, interesting and amazing for me throughout my life. The education, experience and numerous friendships that I have developed or solidified while on these trips has been nothing less that priceless.
Gary Richards is a teacher and Norwalk resident who enjoys writing about his travels.