Tour Planning and Terms Overview
Evolve and implement a Plan (here, a Tour, Schedule,
or Itinerary) that achieves maximum
agreement within the bounds of known
- Strategy means to
"determine what is important"
(derived from the ancient Greek word: Strata,
meaning "layer") - layer the concerns, order the layers.
Note that what is most important changes over time.
- Plan means to
"schedule actions ahead of
time" (Latin roots, thought to have derived from
planare, "Plant" or "To Plant")
- one of early man's first formal communal strategies was
to decide who would do what and when for the upcoming
planting season. A plan has Purpose.
- Purpose means to attain a
for known or perceived situation. The desired effect is usually
identifiable (and there can be undesired effects).
- Decide means to
"select one choice
over another" (derived from Latin, decidere,
to cut off - "cide" as in Homicide or
Insecticide, literally "kill what is at one side for
the other"). A decision consists of two parts;
the Process and the Result. If you are a lawyer
its all about the Process, for most other people
its about the Result.
- Tactic means to
(derived from Greek, taktikos,
to order or form, from taktos, to arrange)
- order or arrange actions. The actions
may have been:
- Predetermined, based on a plan
- Selected from pre planned options
- Created on the spot (ad hoc, situation determined).
- Scope means to
"determine the bounds of
(derived from Greek skopos, to watch or look at) -
Look at how to attain What is Important
within the practical bounds of capabilities
(a.k.a., Strengths and Weaknesses)
given the planning purpose.
- Risk means
(derived from Latin risco, riscio, run into danger) -
Composed of two components, both an undesired
event-action-consequence-cost and the probability of such.
At key points, good planning sessions ask "What can go
wrong" and at some point those issues are addressed.
There are risks for which nothing can be done and there
are risks where mere knowledge about them makes them
become unlikely [which is the reason behind our presenting
our tips and lessons learned as well as our travel logs].
(at page bottom).
Of the two following sections, the next section
identifies the main tasks
for any kind of plan and then details the specific tasks
to generate a Touring Plan, Schedule, or Itinerary.
Then the subsequent section displays a high level
Tour Planning process in the form of a process graph.
Planning Process Task Details:
Perform the following tasks reiteratively
and not necessarily in order, until everyone is
happy (or maximum agreement is obtained).
The main tasks, identified in
Blue colored text (Not Dark-Blue text),
will work for any kind of plan.
Note that all task details relate to and/or
effect other task details, thus cycles of refining
iterations are beneficial to detail integration
as well as detail change integration.
Generally there are four major planning tasks (or parts):
- Make a List of What is Important, Individually.
- Evolve and Identify the "Things Important" Details and Planning Scope.
- Reconcile & Group the Individual Things Important Lists and Details.
- Record, Reiterate, and Refine the Plan (until maximum agreement is attained
within the operating boundaries, understanding that extenuating factors
may cause plan changes).
- Make a List of What is Important,
initially by person - On the first iteration, capture all
items/ideas and No pooping. At this strategy planning
level, this activity is to First "Identify
What is Important," and Later "Rank
(or Layer) What is Important."
Rank What is Important individually
before conducting any group ranking or re-evaluation.
Ranking may be refined or revised in subsequent
iterations. For example, in a later iteration, indicate
with a plus or minus sign, a couple of the most important
items as well as a few lesser important items.
Evolve and Identify the
"Things Important" Details and Planning Scope.
Gather facts, if needed or as needed, for
decision making and recognize or identify
the operating boundaries, limits, and resources.
- Some 'Things of Importance' are known up front
(the really satisfying one's come from childhood).
Some Things of Importance are learned or remembered
travel books, maps, encyclopedias, recommendations,
(online) research, friends, and/or recent travelers.
The Term 'Things Important' was first coined by
John Zachman, a friend.
- Things of Importance relate to Goals
and Purpose, which may be known,
implied, unspecified, unknown, or
understood without being stated. Sometimes Goals and
Purpose are not known, identifiable, or learned until
the Things Important list is materialized.
One can help evolve or refine the other.
- Some Things of Importance are more important than others
and this relates to Goals and Purpose
(individual and group). It helps to
understand these dynamics and issues for
resolving later schedule conflicts.
Priorities and importance change over time and they change
as other items of importance evolve.
Reconcile the Individual Things
Important Lists and Details.
- Identify the related Who, What, Where, When,
Why, and How's.
- Identify and work within the bounds of
your Strengths and Weaknesses -
That is, know the constraints, rules, boundaries, and
limits of time, money, resources, endurance, priorities, distance,
transportation, environment, companion(s),
- Identify and follow up where more
information may be needed.
Initially the separate Things Important Lists are merged,
ordered, and organized into one master list.
Decisions about what to keep in the plan and what to let
go are initiated here. Timelines are to be generated,
loosely at first but refined over time, adapted, and
reconciled for any later changes.
The reasons for the order of things should be
formally or informally known.
Record, Reiterate, and Refine
(also known as the Itinerary, Plan, [or
Orders/Order - military/tacktic]).
- Evolve a consolidated Things Important list
(achieve maximum agreement with minimum discord).
- Evolve a Things Important touring date range and
create timelines, loose at first.
- Track the reasons "why"
some key events need to be in a
certain order or fall on a certain day.
Generally, tracking can be informal but there are
usually some key issues worth formal notation.
Also note any known opportunities or curiosities
of interest, like taste local meal X or
observe X thing in X village/provence/region.
The Schedule is finalized here after one or more iterations.
Decisions are finalized about what to
do, bring, rent, make, or buy.
When all is finalized and there is a group
consensus (or maximum agreement),
then the plan is set up for execution
at a pre-designated time, this includes
conducting any pre plan tasks
(like reservations and purchases).
Alternate scenario ideas need to be tracked
in case later information or priorities
change in the planned schedule.
The inability to achieve/perform/conduct a pre plan task
may necessitate implementing alternate plans or
additional planning iterations for
plan attainment and/or schedule refinement.
Ultimately a physical schedule is to be created and
shared. Some of the following points will help make
a more survivable schedule.
The Plan is not as important as the Planning. -
General George S Patton
- Decide/List event order and reconcile timelines:
- Some events become main path sequences.
Some events become subordinate to a main event
occurring or completing first.
Some events can't be done or will conflict -
Decisions need to be made.
- Conduct any Do, Bring, Rent, Make, or Buy Decisions:
For example, discuss and decide
(based on fit and everyone's
level of confidence, experience, comfort, strengths,
whether to create and manage your own tour
or to buy into an existing mega-tour or multiple
mini-tours, or to mix tour types.
This concept applies to many other touring
- Be flexible and facilitate flexibility into the Schedule:
- Be open to changes and opportunities discovered while
conducting further planning.
Be open to time/event shifting.
- It is wise to address scenarios
before hand, to address possibly known or
unknown things that may effect the plan
or its implementation:
- Sometimes external factors drive decisions, like
holidays, seasons, days of the week,
and things politik.
- Sometimes trips of long travel distances or
trips with many connections need built in
empty time periods to compensate for possible
especially for the first day of arrival.
Sometimes, some open time allows for "on site
decisions," "on the fly changes,"
or "down time."
- Some month or months long trips need allowances
for sick days, delays, and maintenance
(human and mechanical) - About one free day for
every two weeks or so.
- Address Risks:
Other risk mitigation solutions may involve
(time, money, and/or control):
No one avoids all risks and some risks must be taken.
Some risks can be avoided or better mitigated
with knowledge and experience (which is
why this travel knowledge
sharing web site exists).
Knowledge of the following issues may help reduce schedule risks:
- Buying Insurance
- Assigning more schedule time
- Making and pre paying reservations
- Letting some other agency handle all, or some, of the details
- Prioitizing a list such the lesser important items
may be last or skipped
- Creating alternate plans
Tour Planning Proccess Graphic (High Level Overview):
NO travel plan in the world has ever been perfectly executed! Something always happens to cause situational changes (aka tactical changes to the plan). Expect it, be of good spirit, and embrace the positive aspects of an exposure to new opportunities.
The first casualty of a campaign is the plan. -
Yes, Aeschylus said it was Truth, and a Poet said it was Innocence.
They're all right, but we digress ...
Situational Choice and Control Issues [eventually, one wants both]:
If a traveler does not have the time to plan a tour, or it is too late into the season, or this kind of foreign travel is too much to handle (initially) then joining an established tour group has many advantages.
We evolved to making our own reservations to best represent our own interests and to be able to have "choice" and "control" during the tour. We progressed from booking tours, to using a travel agent, to setting everything up ourselves. Its a very natural course to follow. If a person uses a travel agent, one cannot make any changes without going through the agent - all good site destinations work with that ethic, even if a traveler is at the tour site and the travel agent is twelve time zone hours away and/or closed, the traveler still must go through the agent. If the agent is lazy, inefficient, or otherwise constrained (tight office budget) and has not followed up, the traveler (you) can't initiate, confirm, or change anything, one must go through the agent. If a person does their own bookings then the tour-ist can adjust to on the spot changing of external requirements or conditions.