Visions of vacation dancing in your head? Now’s the time to plan

Art Weber

        Plan, Experience, Remember. Those are watchwords for a successful vacation or getaway.
        OK, so we can’t go anywhere we want right now. We hate it, but COVID temporarily has the upper hand. We can’t do what we want, when we want. It’s nothing we ever imagined.
        Christmas is a welcome distraction, though this year for many there’s more than a touch of melancholy. Soon enough the decorations will be boxed and put away, the outside Christmas lights will be pried from ice-locked gutters. The challenges of January and February lie dead ahead.
        It’s likely you’ll be reluctant to travel. So many advisories and warnings are surely ahead. The risks of travel are real and must be considered.
        But there’s nothing to stop you from planning. That’s what would be so rewarding to do in January and February. Dream. Read. Watch travel programming. Make notes on what you’d really like to do when you feel comfortable travelling again.
        Not only is good planning the key first step to the vacation process, it’s one of the most rewarding. Learn about new places, figure out how best to savor them, develop contacts and make lists of things you’d like to do. We often forget that much of the joy of travel is in the research and anticipation.
        Short of heading south yourself in search of summer, what better way to take your mind off winter’s icy grip and the shackles of COVID? Break out the maps, let your imagination wander.
        As you consider possible destinations, remember the lesson of “Acres of Diamonds,” that the treasure you seek could well be waiting to be discovered in your own backyard. Given what’s happening in the world today, staying closer to home is both tempting and exciting.
        Northwest Ohio is a great place for those with interests that lean toward nature and the outdoors. In addition to the nearby Metroparks, there is a wide variety of state parks in Ohio and Michigan, a national wildlife refuge, and a national estuarine reserve.
        Even now, with all the guidelines, the outdoors is open and waiting. Walking trails, hiking, birding, driving for pleasure are all beckoning.
        Expand your circle of travel planning to a day’s drive and there are a multitude of opportunities – more state parks, national parks and lakeshores, the provincial and national parks of Ontario. Not to be forgotten are the Adirondacks and the Smokies.
        Our location is central to an incredible number of very different outdoor opportunities.
        Remember those three stages to be savored on any vacation. Planning is often overlooked and certainly under appreciated. It can make the difference between success and failure, a trip to make you shudder or a trip with memories to savor.
        There’s more to planning than the obvious arrangements for transportation and overnight stays. Good planning goes beyond the careful preparations to pack proper equipment and clothing. Good planning is researching the destination. Learning something in advance about the landscape, the topography, the flora and fauna. Knowing something about the people who originally settled the area. The extra knowledge provides a broader foundation for enjoyment.
        Think of planning as the appetizer before the meal, the tantalizing of the taste buds, building excitement in anticipation of the main course to follow.
        Hopefully, it won’t be long before the second step will be open to us, the experience itself. Do something unusual. Hike lesser-used trails, hire a boat taxi, take along a fly rod, include a train ride.
        That will make the third and final step – the remembrance – even more gratifying.
        After all it is the remembering that lasts the rest of your life.


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