|Trip Builder - Example|
|Here we walk you
through an example of planning a trip to
a primary destination (Paris) including two
day-trips (Versailles and Loire Valley) and an overnight excursion
(Mt. St. Michael).
When you have completed your Planning & Research, you can begin entering your trip information into the pages of the Trip Builder.
Before we begin, it's important to note that it is not necessary to know your travel dates prior to using the Trip Builder. The Builder is designed so that you can plan a trip focusing on the locations you would like to visit along with activities at each location without having to consider dates. You may also enter the number of nights you would like to stay at each location without setting your initial departure date. This will allow you to create a skeleton structure of your trip where you can easily go back and set your departure date when known and the Builder will recalculate all your location arrival and departure dates for you.
A note on activity dates. If required, you will have to manually enter the dates of each activity as they are not calculated based on a location's arrival and departure. This is because the days at a location may span a range of days and activities could be scheduled for any of the days within the range.
Now we will walk you through the step-by-step process of using the Trip Builder to build your trip.
You have booked your flights, now what do you do?
You have never been to Paris, so you are not sure exactly what you want to do other than see the main sights such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and others.
You want to spend most of your time in Paris but as you have 10 days, you are thinking it would be nice to venture out and see some other places; you begin doing some research. After talking with friends, they mention that The Palace of Versailles is not far from Paris and can easily be reached by city train for a day trip.
You have always wanted to visit the Chambord Chateau in the Loire Valley (ever since you saw it as a screen saver in an old version of Microsoft Windows) so you look it up and find there are several tour groups from the town of Tours that will take you through the Loire Valley to see it and other chateaus as well. You find there are high speed TGV Trains from Paris to Tours that will allow you to meet your tour group in the morning, then return back to Paris the same evening.
While doing your research, you notice the medieval island abbey of Mt. St. Michael on the Normandy Coast. After doing some reading, you find that you must stay the night on the abbey to witness the incoming evening tide that will surround the abbey before receding the next morning. You simply cannot pass up the opportunity to witness the tide and stay the night on the island. You keep this in mind as a possibility for an overnight excursion from Paris. You don't want to pay for double booking hotels, so you will need to pack up, check out of your Paris hotel and bring everything with you for the overnight stay. You will need a second hotel in Paris when you return for the remainder of your trip. You also found that there is a high speed TGV Train that runs from Paris to Rennes where you will change trains to Pontorson before taking a short bus ride from the station to the island.
The rest of your time will be spent exploring the sites in Paris. With your side-trips, you should have 4 full days in Paris with partial days depending on the departure/arrival times of your side-trips.
Define your locations
Now that you have a basic idea of what you want to do, you can enter the locations into the Trip Builder as shown below. Enter your starting location, every location you plan to visit, then your final return location. (Denver-Paris-...-Denver) Every time you touch a point, enter it as a a separate location. Even for day trips returning to the same location, enter each location separately. For example, on this trip we have a day trip to Versailles so you would enter: (Paris-Versailles-Paris).
Think about your excursions, travel days and time in Paris.
Versailles is an easy day trip and there should be no issues with the next days trip to the Loire Valley but you have back-to-back travel days
Too much back-to-back travel for Versailles, Loire Valley and Mt. St. Michael
Time to relax with travel breaks in between each excursion
On the locations page as we have shown above, it's easy to reorder your locations until you come up with the ideal scenario. In this example, we have decided to keep the following arrangement.
Trip Builder - Activities & Dates (part)
Now that you have entered and ordered all your loctions, it's time to begin entering your activities.
There are multiple options for creating Day Trips when building your trip profile. See our Trip Builder Example: Day Trips for more information.
As an alternative to creating individual activities under a location when booking and other details may not be required, it's possible to create a Checklist of items.
Continue entering the activities for your remaining locations. Later you will set the actual number of nights at each location as well as add additional details such as booking information, map links and photos.
Trip Builder - Nights/Dates (part)
Now that you have entered your activities, you can set your initial departure date and the number of nights required at each location. In this example, you already know your departure date as you had purchased your flights ahead of time. As this is basically a single destination trip to Paris with some day trips and one overnight excursion, setting the nights is very simple.
When setting the nights, treat every location as a new location, even if you depart and return in the same day such as in the case of the day trip to Versailles. Your locations will be: Paris / Versailles / Paris.
As you set the nights for each location, the arrival and departure dates will automatically be recalculated based on the trips departure date.
You can see the departure and arrival dates at each location along with your planned activities. You simply need to set the number of nights at each location and adjust the arrival date if necessary. In the case of your flight from Denver to Paris, you will arrive the next day, so adjust the date to +1.
To assist you in prioritizing your bookings, you may set text/color-coded status indicators for each activity. High Status items should be booked first while Low Status items can be booked later.
You don't want to book an activity such as travel to a location only to find out there are no accommodations available on the night you need them. You also do not want to book your accommodations only to find out there is no travel service available on the day you need to get there.
When traveling to smaller out of the way locations, you may find that trains do not run every day of the week. You may also find that busses have limited schedules so be sure you arrive early as to not miss a connection. Another example is in the Greek Isles where some ferry service may only be available to certain islands on specific days.
You are not making any booking at this time. You are verifying that everything is affordable and will be available when you need it.
Prioritize your Booking Priority List with the most important items first. High priority items need to be booked first as your plans may need to be adjusted if something is not available.
Once you are satisfied with the availability of all your activities, you may proceed with your bookings starting with the highest priority items first.
As you book each activity and update the information on the Booking Details page, set the Booking Status to 'Booked'. Once an activity is booked, the Booking Priorities List will reflect the change by listing all booked activities in the Booked Activities column. When everything you require has been booked, you should have not any items remaining in the Activities Requiring Booking column.
Trip Builder - Booking Overview
The Booking Details of your Trip Builder and Trip Summary pages will display indicators at the location and activity levels allowing you to quickly see what has been booked and what still requires booking.
The goal is to get the status of all activities set to Booked: or Booking Not Required: '---' so that the overall location level status shows Booked:
For Denver, we see that every activity that requires booking has been booked resulting in the overall location booking status of while Paris has a status of indicating there are still activities requiring booking.
The icon has been selected to expand the First Hotel Paris - Tour Eiffel activity listed for the Paris location.
Trip Builder - Booking Details
At this time, it may be helpful to edit each activity and set some basic information but not actually book the activity. There is still some research that needs to be performed prior to making the actually bookings. You could set your proposed date and time, duration, notes, websites and photos at this time.
You can also set the Booking Priority which is described after this section. The Booking Priority will help you to know the most important activities so they can be booked first. You should perform some research to be sure that each activity will be available when you need it. For example, be sure hotels, transportation, tours and other activities are available on the dates you need them before making the actual bookings.
Setting an Alert will help you to remember important information about the activity. You may select one of several different alert indicators that will display next to the activity title. Alert icons may also be inserted anywhere in the notes area.
As you make each booking, save the information into the related activity such as your Reservation/Confirmation Numbers, addresses, instructions and other relevant information.
Important information to add
Mobile Trip Profile
Once you have completed all your bookings and you have entered all your activity information on the Booking Details page, you can use your Smartphone to access your trip using the Mobile Trip Profile.