Monday, August 2, 2010

Planning a Photo Trip - Part 1

There is often nothing more exciting than planning another trip. I have spent the last several weeks checking out photography locations, trying to contact local photography clubs to get some ideas on locations, checking out transportation and accommodations.

I will be attending the Celtic Colours International Festival in Cape Breton. This is part of the Cape Breton Colours Festival to celebrate the changing of the Tree Colours. Yes those beautiful yellows, oranges and reds we love to shoot in the fall. Along with the colours we get a full 10 days of wonderful Cape Breton music that includes the great Natalie McMaster.

Rounding out the trip will be several days in Saint Pierre & Miquelon (part of France) and then off to Newfoundland. Fitting all this in with 3 sets of round trips, multiple shows, a couple of photography workshops I will be teaching and a multitude of locations I want to shoot requires a well planned itinerary.

Book six flights, hotels, cars, some meal reservations, Ceilidhs (music shows) and a couple of special out of season tours. Lots of work. But its fun. And, doing a great job of it can make or break a trip.

Plan well, plan early, and cover all your bases. Lay it all out on paper and double check everything including dates, times and finance. Make sure you leave lots of time in place. Last minute trips usually do not work out so well. Once the plan is all laid out, time to check specifics.

Will you need a Passport? Will you need a Travel Visa? Both of these can take a bunch of paperwork and lots of time to acquire depending on your Nationality and your travel destination. Be ready.

Which Airline will you use? What times will you depart and arrive at your locations? Will you have time to get to and from locations? Should you get Cancelation Insurance? What about Medical Insurance?

Where will you pick up the rental car? What company will you use? Will you have time to get and return the vehicle? Will you require insurance? Does your credit cards have the insurance built in? If you “only think so” make sure you check it out and read all the fine print.

Check out all the available accommodations and select some based on price and affordability. Once you find what you are looking for, check it out on the internet. There are some excellent sites where other travelers may have left some good critiques or comments about the accommodations you may have selected. Try and/or some other sites.

If you plan on attending any shows, events or any special landmarks or points of interest, make sure that you know what dates these are open, what times they are open and most important, are tickets or reservations required? Just last year we were in Lunenburg Nova Scotia and were able to sail on the famous Blue Nose II. While picking up our reserved tickets there were several sets of un-happy tourists finding out they need to book ahead! This year, even though were are booking three months ahead of the festival, several shows have already sold out!

Now that everything is planned and laid out, it’s time to book everything. Use an agent or a reputable web site. Keep your fingers crossed and hope you can get tickets. I say this because many people use AirMiles and sometimes seats are not available for specific flights. (If you use AirMIles I would recommend booking tickets as the first thing you do before making any other plans.)

Bring all the information along with you and leave a copy with your non traveling spouse, a family member or a good friend.

Keep contact phone numbers for all your planes, trains and automobiles along with phone numbers for all lodging. You may need to make some calls if you run into trouble or just want to make some changes because you have found the most spectacular place to shoot and you want to stay an extra day or two.

In Part 2, I will discuss some Photography specific travel information.

Planning a Photo Trip - Part 2

© 2010 Fran├žois Cleroux

(Version 1.02 - August 2010)

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I value thoughtful comments and suggestions. If you like or dislike this post, please let me know. If you have any ideas or suggestion, comments or corrections (I do make mistakes) please also let me know. Thanks.

- Francois Cleroux