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044 Trip Optimization 2009-02-11

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Have you ever been to a restaurant for the first time and just order too much food or the wrong selection as everyone else’s food looks better than yours? The picture in the menu made me order it or it didn’t look anything like the picture, either way you got more than or not what you wanted. I have learned that you have to go to a restaurant several times before you find out how to make the dining experience best for you. Once you are a regular, you know when is the best time to go, what to wear, where is the best place to sit, who are the best members of the wait staff, and what is the best food and drink.

Have you ever been to on a trip to an area for the first time and you were overwhelmed with the area or decided that it didn’t look like what you saw in the guide book or magazine?

It’s amazing how many times I have just gotten more than I expected. I sit at home and plan, pouring over guidebooks, maps, and the internet; arriving at a perfect agenda. I get to the destination and am changing the plans the next day. Reality tells me that I ordered more than I could eat (or I planned for more than I could do) and I should have just stuck with the salad!

Years of experience has helped me plan more realistically but there are still a lot of things that can and will go wrong with any plan, especially if I am venturing to a new area.

A few helpers to keep your eyes and your skills and conditioning in sync:

Study the area all you can, maps, guidebooks, articles, online sites.

Join a group site promoting the area. Forums allow you to ask questions or read questions others have submitted. Most of these sites offer invaluable firsthand information.

Find a partner to go with you that has been to the area before. Having firsthand experience in the area will help you prepare and familiarize with the area.

Hire a guide. Guides are professional outdoor persons. They will plan the trip for you, lead you throughout the trip, and in general remove a lot of the guess work. If you are really concerned about achieving certain goals, then hire your partner as in get a guide. By hiring a guide, you will not be as apt to make mistakes or have epic adventures. Instead everything done with a guide would be accomplished with business like precision, but you should if at all possible reach your goal. One caveat is that you won’t have that epic! Some would rather have a good time failing, it just depends on the goals.

Things will go wrong, plan on it! Expect it! Make flexible plans that allow for mistakes, bad weather, or just a good old change of mind.

Whatever your trip, make goals that will give you the edge for success but don’t forget any trip is better if you have fun.

Happy trails.


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