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Pre-trip Trip Report

I didn’t know exactly where to post this one. : )

The cooking class I will be taking in Lecce, Italy sent me several pages of information when I signed up for the class early this year. The day will be much more than a focus on cooking food. Besides a lot of helpful information about the culture and how it’s been influenced by all of their history (very interesting by the way!), he included a “While in the Planning Phase” section. Here’s a couple of example snippets:

  • When doing planning research, put your potential hotels, restaurants, etc. in your social media platforms to follow. Don’t know the regional specialties of the restaurant? They are posting photos of this week’s dishes on social media. Having a private driver? Get to know him on social media. Most people get this order backwards and follow these places after they have returned back home.

  • Put the sites you are thinking of visiting into TripAdvisor - churches, monuments, sites. If “very touristy” comes up often, plan ahead to limit your time there. If you didn’t know that spot receives 3000 visitors a day, it is because you weren’t looking. The information is available to know ahead what you will experience.

  • …and he goes on to share a lot about the benefit of staying in the smaller, less touristy towns.

So, I took his advice and have been following some of the B&B’s where I will be staying, a couple of activities and a few restaurants for over a month now. It’s amazing how much I am enjoying this change!. How fun is it to receive a few photos of the trullo I will be staying at in Alberobello in my morning Facebook story feed! I have seen how it will look with the evening light, the lady preparing the breakfast, what the town will look like when I take my early morning walk. And I can’t wait to taste the scrumptious breakfast at my Lecce palazzo hotel seeing recent photos!

I am staying at 17 B&B’s or tiny hotels in the center of cities. I have been surprised at how many had a Facebook page! Also, there are some nice recommendations on their FB page with detailed photos of things they recommend seeing in their city.

There’s a small restaurant in Polignano a Mare - nothing overly popular, but I can’t wait to eat there, feeling like I know how they like to present their creative vegan dishes and the cute decor that they are proud of on their walls.

I even saw some nice clues of what people are wearing in April in Lecce from photos posted yesterday of some participants in the cooking class. : )

Instead of my trip starting in a few weeks, I’ve been feeling connected to these places for the past month - as if my trip began in March!

Posted by
6373 posts

Jean, what a great idea. Although... the thought of adding another layer of prep is daunting, but I do think I might try this. Maybe. But not for everything. Oh, rats, I'm in!

Posted by
1874 posts

Jean, thanks for sharing this. I do some of these as I love planning, but nice to have a reminder in one place.

Posted by
4293 posts

It never even occurred to me to follow such specific targets like a B and B or a driver, usually the social media I follow for a trip is more general. I'm going to give it a try.

If you didn’t know that spot receives 3000 visitors a day, it is
because you weren’t looking. The information is available to know
ahead what you will experience.

I've said it before, I'd like to thank the sheep that don't plan ahead and then go to the same sites at the same time, leaving me with lesser crowds at different times of day. It worked brilliantly last year in Sorrento.

Posted by
7448 posts

Jane - LOL! This actually helped me eliminate two restaurants after following them for a few weeks, so think of it as helping narrow down your choices while also ramping up the excitement for those you want to enjoy! : )

Posted by
7448 posts

Allan, one of the B&B’s was having a difficult time over a month trying to find cleaning staff. That was certainly nice to know ahead of time to track if I wanted to change lodging.

Posted by
7448 posts

Allan, I am sure some are reading this saying why would I be going to the crazy overcrowded Alberobello when there are trulli all over in the countryside nearby? Well, it’s a tourist zoo during the day-trip time of day, but that’s when I am renting an ebike and exploring the countryside smallest roads. Staying overnight should be magical & enjoyable…just like your Sorrento experience.

Posted by
1 posts

Wow, thank you so much for sharing these pearls, Jean. I'm wading through prep for a trip to Italy in Sept/Oct - birthday present to myself and your note is being taken to heart. The gentleman who sent this advice is a traveler's angel and so are you.

Posted by
9865 posts

Jean this is the funniest thing ever. I too love this post. The fact that we are reading pre-trip trip reports means we have truly gone over the edge !!!!!

Posted by
4927 posts

Oh how fun, Jean! I need to look at my trips and see where I might be able to do this. I'm not sure my big city hotels are the right connection, but some of the smaller places where I have reservations could be interesting.

And here I was thinking that travel planning wasn't quite a full time "job" ;-)

Posted by
7448 posts

Kim, LOL! Oh, many of us have gone over the edge! I am going to blame it on the Covid years and making the most of any opportunity! : )

Posted by
323 posts

Thank you, Jean! This is great advice, especially for those of us that the pre-planning is almost as fun as the trip itself! Thanks for the tip!

Posted by
11485 posts

Love it! Great advice the RS people should pick up.on for guidebook advice.

Posted by
4330 posts

Being specific is a great idea! About to implement! I have been doing this by city or region, but not by individual vendor ahead of time. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by
4927 posts

I found several pubs in Chichester to follow for their music lineups!

Posted by
3997 posts

Oh boy, what a rabbit Hole we are all fallimg down. But, anything that helps in the planning process and helps us avoid a bad restaurant or day tour, I’m in.
Thanks Jean.

Posted by
532 posts

This is a great idea. I tend to follow general areas on social media (usually Facebook groups).

I can't wait to follow along with your trip since I've got this part of Italy on my radar.

Posted by
581 posts

We had a five week trip to England planned for April 2020, staying in smaller villages. After cancelling everything, I knew we would eventually take the trip so In the months that followed (when I was spending way too much time on Facebook) I began following lodging, attractions we were interested in seeing, local pubs and restaurants, and even the villages where we planned to stay.

In those chaotic times I found small businesses used Facebook to communicate sometimes erratic business hours as well as special events, I.e. we took advantage of a "burger and brew" special at a pub in a nearby Welsh village. On a community events website I found a women's chorus rehearsal that welcomed drop-in visitors. We heard about 1940's weekend in Haworth from a Facebook post. (Side story on this, people were uploading photos to an event page for this, and another Haworth resident recognized her parents in a photo I uploaded, she was so happy to have that photo.)

We eventually took the trip in May 2022 and after we got back home I unfollowed all those pages so it wouldn't clog up my Facebook feed. I agree it's another useful tool in the toolbox.

Posted by
7448 posts

Kathereyne, that’s nice to hear how it kept you connected during the Covid time period! And a sweet coincidence with the photo! : )

Posted by
7448 posts

KRS, I am really looking forward to it and will post a trip report in June. I am staying in 11 new cities and returning to my favorite festival as the finale.

Posted by
795 posts

Thanks Jean this is such a fun thread! For those of us who are serious planners, this is just part of the process that heightens our enjoyment!!! You're staying in 11 new cities, all in Southern Italy? Hope you have a great trip, should be wonderful weather.

Posted by
7012 posts

Jean, this is such a great idea! I will definitely be using this idea for my next trip! Yes, just one more thing to add to our full-time job of trip planning! But worth it!

Posted by
7448 posts

Sandancisco, thank you! The new cities where I will be staying are mostly south of Rome.

Campania: Caserta

Puglia: Polignano a Mare, Bari, Alberobello, Locorotondo, Martina Franca (yes, I know these are all close together), Lecce

Sicily: Palermo

Abruzzo: Sulmona

Lazio: Tivoli

Umbria: Spoleto

Posted by
7448 posts

Mardee, if I begin to think about how many hours I have spent on this trip, it’s definitely been a full-time job! But…”find a job you love, and you will never work a day in your life” certainly applies to it! : )

Posted by
337 posts

Wonderful idea, Jean! My first thought was..”oh boy…down the rabbit hole!”…and I see Barbara upthread thought the same lol! This is really helpful (and fun!) especially for the restaurants on our “maybe” list!

Posted by
14249 posts

"My first thought was..”oh boy…down the rabbit hole!”"

Oh yes Cathy, lol!! Plus Kim's remark about going over the edge,lol.

I'll confess I started doing a little of this in September. I had such a wonderful trip to Orkney and Shetland that when I got home I started following the Orkney hotel's FB page. The person that does it was SO nice and welcoming plus she is the reason I bought a silver "groatie buckie" (cowrie shell) bracelet so I think about her and Orkney every day. That morphed into me getting more Orkney sites in my feed, following a couple of tour guides and then moving on to "collecting" some for Shetland. Now I've officially signed up for Orkney and Shetland tours in 2025 they are going to be useful for me in figuring out activities in pre-tour days.

I have not done the same for my Oct 2024 trip except I follow my usual Paris hotels. I will do some looking around and see what I can come up with! There is an interesting looking chocolatier in Saumur, lol.....

Posted by
7448 posts

Pam, the connections on FB have become my morning travel “local news”!

Yum, some great looking asparagus this morning on the Lecce cooking class Facebook story feed!

Posted by
14249 posts

Jean! That's much more interesting "local" news than the actual local news!!

Posted by
7448 posts

Hi Mardee, a nice review of our Cotopaxis! Her colors on hers are almost exactly the same as mine - orange zipper & all. I completed a trial pack over the weekend for this trip, and I am currently at 13.5 pounds. For a month-long May trip, I think it’s probably going to not be much lighter. There’s 3/4 pound of paper in my pack (that I want), so that will drop down as I travel.

For anyone else looking at the review, I really love this pack, and it has forced to me pack even lighter since I like to keep it around 13 pounds on my back. One comment she made I would caution NOT to do - ”It also has a top zippered pocket so you can easily access essentials like your wallet or passport while on the go.”. Don’t place your valuable items in the easiest accessible pocket for you but also for the pickpocketers.

Posted by
4927 posts

13.5 lbs .... oh sigh ....

Jean, I've thought about e-mailing you my packing list and letting you take a whack at it. Except I think I would cry. I did pull out the kitchen scale the other night and whacked off a bit of weight with a few easy substitutions. Today, I found 2 ultra-light tops that I hope will be new travel favorites. Now, what will I take out ???? (I'm taking the 5th!)

I feel like I'm in a travel confessional ;-/

I'm enjoying seeing the feeds from pubs in a couple of the places I'll be staying in England, and watching for announcements of their music lineups during my stay.

Posted by
7448 posts

CWsocial, don’t beat yourself up over the packing weight. It sounds like you’ve already made some useful reductions. : ) My trip is over the top with switching locations, but I really want to keep each location. That is forcing me to think, “Is it really worth it to me to be carrying [this item] to/from fourteen train stations & hotels/B&B’s?”

Two categories that can add deceptive weight - the electronics & the toiletry bag contents

You can probably relate to this quote I made up - LOL!. I said it to myself while doing my first trial pack for this trip. “Everything weighs nothing until it all weighs too much!” - what I said while gathering too many scarves for this trip.”

Have a wonderful time in England!

Posted by
4927 posts

Is it really worth it...

Ok, a similar approach in my house ("is it really worth it to let this item take up drawer/closet/shelf space") has been working. I'm starting to see "white space."

So, look out suitcase!