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Importance of the "4W's"

Traveling for the first time, many have mixed emotions. Our comfort level and personality are usually the starting blocks in choosing where, when, why, and with whom we adventure. Shaping a travel experience based off the "4 W's" above helps us to build control into an otherwise unfamiliar exploration. Let's do a quick breakdown on how to plan an ideal trip.


There are endless destinations around the globe to suit your needs. These heavenly spaces can be found within a drive away from home, or across one of The Ponds to another continent. Let's take a look at an all-encompassing visual approach to pin pointing a destination to satisfy your exploration.

"Without geography, you're nowhere!" - Jimmy Buffett

A great option is to view your horizon from a bird's-eye view. Take the opportunity to glance at the world from above. A map is a great visual tool to examine what is available to you. This is also a fun learning opportunity with your children. Peak their interest by pointing out the different continents. Have them perform quick reads about each continent and find what interests them. Or, choose a state/province/county in your region from the map and have your child find a location they are fond to see. Below are two map suggestions:

  • Poster Map: Unrolling a map and anchoring it to your wall will give your children the tangible beginnings to an adventure. Let their mind wander with creativity and curiosity by visually scanning a map in their bedroom. Have pins, or safety magnets, to identify areas of interest. Leave them on the map and allow your children to read about these destination. Also, this adds as a visual reminder and conversation starter. Friends, visitors, and family would love to share their travels and spots of visit!

  • Google Maps: Children of the 21st century are tech savvy and understand how to operate search engines and apps. Google Maps provides a wealth of information in one location for viewing. Zoom out and scroll the globe, or zoom in and detail the city or rural area of travel. When a destination is discovered, Google Maps offers categories to research based on reviews and ratings from others. Search featured lists, historic places, parks, restaurants, museums, etc.


Timing is everything. Determining when to travel will dictate the external factors associated with your trip. It will impact the traffic/airline patterns, price of lodging/transportation, your location upon arrival, restaurant reservations, waiting times at attractions, etc. here is a quick tip: CHOOSE YOUR LOCATION 3-6 MONTHS OUT. Doing so will allow you to have control of the external factors mentioned above. usually, when you plan a trip in advance the price is reasonable and reservations are ample. Tourist attractions favor those who plan in advance. When you plan three to six months in advance, you can find discounts or sales at attractions or for transportation. Several suggestions on selecting your "when":

  • Calendar: Let us praise Julius Caesar for this great invention that has provided organization and efficiency. Use the calendar to mark out holidays, school breaks, long weekends, and when certain locations are popular for travel. If you are able to go during an off week or season attraction prices will be lower. However, if you choose popular vacation weeks more family/friends can attend.

  • Flight Tracking: Mostly all airlines, or search engines, provide this systematic measure of effortlessly tracking flights. By applying your filters you can track flight prices and times to your destination. You will receive updates via email when a price has changed or direct travel was amended.

  • Attraction Websites: LOOK ON THE OFF SEASON. As a season is ending, many tourist locations will post heavily discounted sales for the upcoming season. If you plan in advance, you can snag a deal for a great family memory!


What is the purpose of the trip? Funneling what the expectations and overall goal of the trip will help shape the "where" and "when" of travel. Many destinations are chosen based on excitement; however, there are multiple other reasons to travel to new areas. Here is a list of several ways to choose why you want to travel:

  • Learning experience

  • Cultural experience

  • Relaxation

  • Adrenaline rush

  • Appreciating life

  • Challenging fears

  • Historical accounts

The options are endless; but having a reason will provide a framework. Here is another great blog post on why people travel.


Choosing your circle of companions will greatly influence the fluidity of the trip. Make sure the location and sites you, or your children, choose aligns with what your mates will enjoy as well. Ensure the group of people will feel comfortable in the setting. Propose the trip to those who would show greatest interest and benefit from the experience. The location provides opportunities, your peers provide memories.

Another great article, with similar information, is provided by Adventurous Kate. Her article touches on similar methods with examples noted from her travels. Take a look at some of her tips.

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