Planning an Adventure to an Unknown Destination

Have you ever dreamed of exploring a place you’ve never been before? 
Your mind conjures wonder. Beauty. Magic.
Maybe it’s a place you’ve read about on a website, on a blog, or someone you know has visited before?
Maybe it’s a place inspired by a movie or a television show, or better yet, a book.
It begins as a curiosity and before long, an obsession. You’ve eventually created this mystical destination in your mind.  You find yourself daydreaming about it until the point that it’s a place you must visit.

That place for me is Seattle. 

Maybe it’s the books I’ve read set on Bainbridge Island?
Maybe it’s from Sleepless in Seattle where Tom Hanks stands out the front of his houseboat as fireworks burst overhead as he poured out his heart on the phone?
More recently, the scene of Patrick Dempsey on a final Greys Anatomy episode cemented it, as he rode the Bainbridge ferry into the city.   That scenery!
Whatever the reason, I’m excited – ecstatic – to finally be travelling to my magical place in February.
Rich and I have talked about this for YEARS.  Now, we finally have an opportunity  – an opportunity we made for ourselves – and we are taking the bull by the horns once more and going for it.
So, how do you plan a trip to a magical place when you’ve never been there before? I mean, really, it’s an unknown destination.  You have only the Internet and forums and books to guide you.  And your dreams…

Here’s how we planned our Seattle Adventure:

  1. We talked about what our expectations were.
What were the places we dreamed about?
For me, taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island was a must do.  Checking out Pike Peak Market was high on the list.  I was also eager to see the scenery. Was it really as gorgeous as what I had seen in the media?
For Rich it was, as always for him, viewing the mountains and hiking the trails.
  1. We started with TripAdvisor.
I trust TripAdvisor to give me the best places and the most honest reviews, so that’s where we began.  Flying in from Australia, we expected some degree of jetlag, so we opted to initially stay in the CBD to give ourselves a convenient place to crash if necessary.
We booked in at a hotel that’s convenient to the places we wanted to see but still within our budget.
  1. Then it was on to what to do!
We received a gift certificate as a Christmas Present for Savor Seattle making it a no brainer to schedule in. We planned everything else around that time for our Seattle jaunt.
We found places that looked interesting: Pikes Place Market, Pioneer Square, EMP Museum (for the Frank Gehry architecture!), Houseboats (Sleepless…) and of course Bainbridge Island ferry.
 We had a preliminary plan set for our Seattle time.
We had three more days to see whatever else we could.
  1. With TripAdvisor and Expedia open, we searched up and down the coastline looking for places to stay.
Given the timeline we had, we decided to look within a 4-hour driving distance.
  1. After not finding quite what we were looking for, we downloaded the AirBnB app, and viewed properties that looked interesting.
Wow!  We were amazed by what was out there and found some real gems!
One of our reservations is on Orcas Island, situated within the San Juan Islands. Based on the photos, it has some spectacular views.
The other, nestled at the base of the Cascade Mountains, has a creek running through the backyard and looks out onto the Cascade glaciers.
Yeah, it’ll be tough.
We’ve never used Airbnb before, so it will be interesting to see what the experience is really like. We found the booking process super easy and super fast!  Turns out, we’re staying in accommodations owned by other full-on travellers like us!
  1. With a plan in place for where we’re headed, we popped back to Expedia, and booked a rental car.
We booked it only for our out of town expeditions, knowing we wouldn’t need it for our Seattle stay. Looking at the Seattle information on TripAdvisor, we found we can get around easily and inexpensively on foot or using public transportation.
So, with the right research and booking tools, we have a great adventure ahead of us!   Fingers crossed that it’s everything I imagined.
NOTE:  If you’re interested in using AirBnB, click here for a credit toward your first stay.
For more information, click this link.
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