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How This Travel Writer Plans for an International Trip

I’m a few weeks out from my trip to Provence (eek! So soon??), so it’s time to start planning.  I thought I’d share what my process is with you.

Create a Schedule

The first thing this anal-retentive traveler does is print a blank calendar and start mapping out where I’ll be when. The second I book my flight, I put the times and dates of my travel on the calendar. This trip, I’m flying into Amsterdam, spending the day there, then taking a hopper down to Nice. From there, I’ll enjoy a few relaxing days with my girl, Rose, then we’ll head to Besse-Sur-Issole for this year’s yoga retreat (same company as the one in Tuscany. Can’t wait!).

travel itinerary

After getting my yoga on, I’m headed to Saorge, that magical village on the border of Italy that I told you about a few years ago. Then back to Nice, fly to Amsterdam for an overnight, then home.

Whew. Do you wonder why I need a paper calendar??

Normally I’m all about the digital calendar, but having a physical copy helps me keep track of where I need to be when, and I keep it close while I’m on the road.

Research Towns


I’m doing zero research on the yoga retreat because Lisa Hampton at Mindful Fitness does such a great job of aligning activities for us on her retreats. I rather like letting someone else do the planning! I’ve been to Nice and Amsterdam, but it’s been a while, so in the coming weeks, I will peruse blogs and websites to figure out what to do with the limited time I have there. Saorge is tiny, and I want nothing more than to sit at La Petite Epicerie with a glass of Rosé and talk to locals.

Mentally Pack

I loved being so mobile with my backpack last year in Italy, so I’m taking ole Veruca with me again. I want to pack light so that I have plenty of room for wine, olive oil, and other goodies. So before I actually pack, I’ll start thinking about what I need (yoga pants, hiking shoes, flip flops), and buying anything that I don’t have (like these lightweight harem pants I can do yoga in or go to town).

This trip will be easier because I bought a lot of quickdry clothing (ExOfficio underwear is amazing and dries in hours), so I have a lot less to purchase.

Physically Pack


I’m my mother’s daughter, because I will pack for a trip several days before I leave. My friend, Debbie, on the other hand, waits until that day. But I like to do a dry run so I can figure out where to put things in my backpack’s many compartments, as well as figure out any last-minute items I need to buy. Just for kicks, I’ll weigh my pack and see if I can come in under the 19 pounds I took to Italy.

Last-Minute Prep

The night before, I will pack all my bags and keep an easy-to-access clutch with my passport, Global Entry, and money by the door. I will check this obsessively to ensure that said passport didn’t get up and walk away.

On my trip to Italy, I came back with about 10 Euros (mostly in change), so I’ll pack that to give me snack or train money in Amsterdam (I think this is a great strategy and will keep doing it in the future).

So that’s it! How I plan before a big trip. Any tips to add?

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