We are just over half-way through the year, and while our focus is resolutely on our upcoming rowing tours, we are already starting to plan our trip offers for the next year. But we are not alone in this travel planning for rowers. Individuals are plotting and dreaming about where they might row next year or for some, it might be next month. In this article we will discuss the five stages of travel planning for rowers or anyone, plus some insights from our “Tell Us About You” survey. And we will end with some tips to help you plan rowing travel, whether for a holiday, a camp or a regatta.
Stages of Travel Planning
Within the travel industry, there is a certain level of buzz around the five stages of travel planning, which are:
You get how it works. The idea pops into your mind or comes up at coffee after a row with your crew mates: “lets do a trip”. Ideas start flowing (dreaming) then someone pulls out their phone and starts checking a few websites (planning). Typically there is lots of back and forth between these two stages, and they can last a long time. Especially if you are trying to coordinate a group – but that is material for another article!
Eventually decisions get made and the main event is booked, whether a tour, a rowing camp, or registering for a major regatta. Many other bookings are required, such as flights, ground transportation to the event location and likely accommodation or additional vacation time before or after the rowing.
The experiencing and sharing stages occur before, during and after the trip! Travellers have very different styles. Some need to know every detail with great clarity before they leave home, while others figure it out on the go. We really like everyone to be fully in the moment during our trips, savouring all aspects. This may be easier said than done, but Matt Killingworth has some tips on how to be happier by staying in the moment. Sharing can be in person, with photos, on social media. One of my friends says that she enjoys a trip even more when she come home and tells others about her experience, using her photos to tell the stories.
How Rowers Plan Travel
We have been curious about travel planning for rowers – how much travel related to rowing do you do? What are typical planning timeframes? What are the most important factors in making decisions about travel? Our “Tell Us About You Survey” explores these questions. The survey remains open but so far we have some interesting results.
Almost 70% of respondents do not travel for rowing at all.
For those who do travel, about 50% is for regattas. Only 3% is for a rowing tour. Well, we would like to change that of course.
We were especially interested in what most influences travel planning for rowers. Destination is the most important factor in making decisions, more important that date and price.
Weighed against factors such as family considerations and getting time off work, the specifics of the rowing, such as daily distance, sweep vs. sculling was also a significant consideration. Our earlier blog post on How To Choose a Perfect Rowing Trip touched on this -it is important in your planning to find a trip that best suits you (while perhaps pushing your boundaries just a little bit too).
Rowers depend on various resources in the dreaming, planning and even booking stages. We were not surprised to learn that recommendations from friends was considered important, very important or essential by 77% of the respondents – we have a tremendous number of guests who have heard about Rowing The World through word-of-mouth.
Most people appear to begin the dreaming and planning stages months before actually booking or taking a trip. We do agree that anticipation can be a wonderful part of the travel experience. It appears that most people finalize their travel plans and book about six months in advance. There are advantages in terms of getting better airfares or train fares, and also ensuring that you have time off work, etc. However, a strong group is inclined towards booking two months or less before the trip. Long live last minute and spontaneous travel!
Tips for Travel Planning
All of this background is fascinating, but let’s get to some practical tips on how to improve your own travel planning for rowing. Another one of our blog posts, Top 10 Travel Tips offered these tips for the planning stages:
- Buy a guidebook.Could be the physical copy or downloaded onto your phone or laptop. You could download just a few chapters. Get to know which brand matches your travel preferences. I like Lonely Planet or Rough Guide, but can be pleasantly surprised by Fodor’s. A guidebook is a trusted source – who are all these people on Trip Advisor anyway, do they like the same things that you do? The other great advantage of a guidebook is the background information on a destination and details about particular sites. Flipping through the book will expose you to things to do that you had never thought of.
- When booking flights and transportation, value ease and convenience at least as much as cost.Yes, it might be a very cheap flight, but if you have to be at the airport at 4 am what will you feel like for the rest of the day when you arrive? Ensure adequate transit times when changing flights or train stations – why create unneeded stress? Our fixation on the best deal diminishes the value of travel.
- Consider using a travel agent.For a straight-forward flight, I book it myself. However, many of my trips are complicated. For the time saving and chance to easily review different options, I gladly pay the agency fee.
- Be adventurous and push your boundaries just a little bit. Consider a new regatta in a place that you have not been before. Or if you have always wanted to travel to Italy, for example, perhaps choose a rowing trip in a place that you are not familiar with, or have not previously heard of.
- Don’t plan and fill every single minute of each day. Even if your personality is such that you need to be sure of all the details, leave a little room for serendipitous discoveries or just some unstructured time, that you might ultimately fill or leave for relaxing.
- Read information carefully. If you are not sure, ask lots of questions!
- Happy planning, and even more importantly, enjoy fun, safe and adventurous rowing travel, in whatever form that may take!