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How far in advance do you begin to plan

Plan where you are eating of course.

I was wondering because I start researching the minute I find out I have a business trip coming out. Right now I have trips for early August and early September and I am already reading and researching to see where I would like to dine.

What about you?

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  1. If I can, I look at where I want to eat and plan the trip around that. If I don't have that luxury, I start planning the moment I know the locale. That's the fun of getting to travel to me.

    2 Replies
      1. re: hyacinthgirl

        It is similar for us.

        We travel to San Francisco, every month, and maybe even 3x per month. Depending on my wife's meetings, we book the restaurants very far in advance - Sunday will be the two of us, while Monday and Tuesday may, or may not be a couple. When she has dinner meetings, then I usually explore new restaurants for the next trip's Sunday "couple's dining."

        While business trips can have other issues, like hosted board dinners, we normally plan our dining, well in advance, and have been known to move hotels, just to be close to a restaurant later on, like going from the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua (for free), to the Inn at Mama's Fish House (on our nickel), to be close enough to walk a few feet, rather than drive across Maui.

        As we are both winos, driving after dinner, is seldom an option.


      2. Specifically for Disney, I'm "always" planning.
        I love http://www.passporter.com/

        4 Replies
        1. re: Kris in Beijing

          As you can tell by name, I am a Disney freak! I have to plan my Disney World dining for each trip. I use wdwinfo.com and their forums for my planning.

          1. re: Kris in Beijing

            I already have my adrs picked out for May 2014: It was tough but: Kouzzina breakfast and dinner, Boma breakfast, Be Our Guest lunch, Le Cellier dinner, Via Napoli, Boatwright's, and Raglan Road. Of course no ADR necessary for BOG @ lunch.

            1. re: Becca Porter

              You folks must really hate us locals who just walk up. We know that somebody will grossly misjudge the waiting time for Soaring, Space Mountain, etc.

              The hotels are another matter.

              1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                Hate, no. When I'm only there for a week I just don't want to chance it. I also bet you don't just walk up in the fall often. Free dining really impacts everything.

                *Soarin ;)

          2. Planning dinner is an integral part of planning any trip for us.

            My next two trips have restaurant reservations already made. The one following that (September) is in the early planning stage (cruising round relevent foody boards, etc) and our pre-Christmas trip has places decided but not yet reserved as they don't take bookings more than 3 months in advance.

            1. I drive myself crazy doing this. Everyone I travel with either loves the fact that I come up with great restaurants (for the most part) and they don't have to do any of the work, or they can't deal with the fact that I am so fanatical about planning ahead. Even *I* can't deal with it sometimes, but it's something I can't stop myself from doing.

              That said, I had a business trip to Barcelona last month and did NO planning ahead (just too busy). I went with the completely serendipitous approach two nights out of three and ended up with fantastic meals after just wandering in off the street. And on the third night I took a brief look at TripAdvisor before leaving my hotel and found a restaurant where I had an even more fantastic meal. It could have been just that every restaurant in BCN is stupendous, or I got very lucky.

              4 Replies
              1. re: travelmad478

                The latter, though in my opinion, as long as you stay away from the tourist-oriented places on Las Ramblas, the odds are in your favor.

                1. re: LeoLioness

                  I was well off Las Ramblas--my travel style in cities is simply to pick a cool neighborhood and just wander around in it--so I had one afternoon/evening in Born, another in Gracia, and the third in Eixample. Two out of those three dinners were positively stellar. I do expect food in non-touristy areas to be fine, but I wasn't expecting stellar!

                  1. re: travelmad478

                    It's a great eating city, for sure. I have friends who live there so I tend to follow their lead when I visit, but I've also had very good luck just wandering around and going on instinct. It helps that I really, really like the food of that region, too (and that whenever I'm in Barcelona, I'm generally in a very good, very relaxed mood--never underestimate the power in that!)

                2. re: travelmad478

                  As with anywhere else in Spain (and, I guess, anywhere else in the world), it is easy to eat badly in Barcelona.

                  However, exercise the usual care and you should be able to avoid the most obvious poor places around the Ramblas and Barceloneta.

                3. Planning is easy. It is the execution that I fall behind in. Through the years I have:
                  Left the list at home.
                  Left the map on the counter.
                  Left the map and list in the hotel room.
                  Found the list in the door pocket, while cleaning the car out after the trip.

                  And then there are the directions:
                  That cute Skandanavian place in Solvang.
                  The fancy German place in Milwaukee.
                  You can't get a bad steak in Chicago. Go anyplace.
                  After you get on state road 17, Go north on N, turn left on SS which will turn in to GG. Stop at the large white barn. They have the best cheese. (7 barns later)
                  They closed two years, months, days ago.
                  These shrimp are from Malaysia. Our shrimp fleet shut down because the port is now for cruise ships. (Port Canaveral)
                  We don't have local beef. We traded our oxen in for tractors. (Florence)
                  I"m sorry, it is August. Everybody is on vacation. (Paris)
                  Forget what you read. My cousin has a great place full of locals. (Cabbie in Athens) Locals have no taste.

                  And my favorite. Recommended by chowhound, yelp, numerous guide books. Asking locals and hotel for directions.... "Never heard of it."

                  1. You set business trips 4 months out???? I usually find out I have to be on the other coast or another country about 2 days before I have to go. If I look on my calendar in August or September, I won't have a single trip booked. But be assured that I will be on the road those months. So I never plan before a business trip. Vacations are an entirely different matter. I can plan a vacation solely around the food.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Bkeats

                      For me business trips are usually conferences that are planned well in advance. I just found out about one yesterday I'll be attending in November.

                    2. I try to plan. I usually only travel for vacation. I tell the people I'm going to be seeing the places Ive heard about or would like to try. About 80% of the time they have "other" agendas other ideas. Hey, its their city, go with the flow.

                      1. I love vacation planning almost as much as I love the actual traveling part, so for me, I start researching food (whether that means specific restaurants, or, in a part of the world where I'm less familiar with the cuisine, *what* it is I'll actually be eating) from the get-go.

                        1. I always look at menus online if they are posted.

                          We planned and researched for days our vacation in Aruba and where we would eat. Dau & Son in love go every year so they knew loads of places. We only managed to pick one dud.
                          Hubby & I had a blast for days looking at menus online. I was starting to feel like a very plain and unimaginative cook by the time we were finished!!

                          And we had to make reservations well in advance of our trip, like 6 mos, and some were already not available.

                          1. is it bad that we actuallllly took a vacation just to go to a place to eat?

                            5 Replies
                              1. re: girloftheworld

                                Absolutely not bad. Our longest journey just to eat a meal involved a flight to Amsterdam, where we ate the rijsttafel at Tempo Doeloe and caught the next flight home

                                1. re: Harters

                                  If Freddy Laker were still in business, I can see heading to London for another meal at Rule's.

                                  1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                    That would certainly beat my "furthest travelled".

                                    By co-incidence, I have just recommended Rules on a UK/Ireland board thread.

                                2. re: girloftheworld

                                  No, the restaurant choice always comes before lodging for me.

                                3. Immediately, especially for vacations. My friends always give me a hard time but now many of them do the same after being shut out of many places they want to try.

                                  For business trips it really depends. Often I am too exhausted or working way too many hours to get out. Even So I will usually have a few places in my back pockets to try.

                                  And for places like Disney, NYC, NOLA, Napa, etc I will often have booked dinner reservations before I have booked my flight or hotel.

                                  However even with all my planning I leave a number of nights open to just get out and explore. I don't like the "If it's Tuesday it must Belgium" effect.

                                  1. Immediately! I have no idea why because I then end up revising everything at the last minute. :-)

                                    1. I am planning to visit Southeast Asia in a year and a half. If I go on an escorted tour I am going to choose one that has the most flexibility for meals. For domestic travel I typically plan about a month ahead. I usually make a reservation at special restaurant, the other places I either research a week prior or wing it when I get there.

                                      1. I have, literally, just booked flights for our next holiday to America.

                                        I've also just booked a first night's accommodation - after a long flight and the urgent need for sleep, an important consideration was that there was somewhere nearby (as we won't yet have a car) to eat. Not a foody place to eat - not even halfway decent, I suspect but it'll do. So, yes, food planning is an integral part of the wholoe planning thing.

                                        Now, back to the Chow boards covering Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina & Virginia..........more planning awaits - there's another 23 dinners to consider.

                                        1. I've just finished reading the 26 replies so far and feel like I am swimming against the tide. When planning a trip, my 'planning' is much more seat-of-the-pants than most CHers. Yes, I will do some research about what to eat in a particular place, what are some of the specialities, products, et al. I love to explore local markets - so much the better if our accomodations have a kitchen! Restaurants will be scanned and, possibly, I might make one reservation, especially for a hard-to-get seat. Other than than, I have a very flexible travel mode. Several months in advance, knowing that I will be eating at the XYZ place for lunch and having dinner at the ABC restaurant that evening [followed by more of the same for the rest of the week] makes me exhausted just thinking about it. How do I know what I will want to be doing/eating on October 15th??? much less what time I will be expected to do these things. Yoicks! Serious previous planning eliminates the spur-of-the-moment adventures that make travel so enjoyable to me.

                                          On our last visit to Italy, after two weeks of touring the countryside of Tuscany & Umbria on a motorcycle, my husband and I rented a car in Florence. With an end in sight one week hence, we made our plans by flipping a coin to decide "right" or "left". What followed remains one of my cherished memories. We met a couple who had just bought a new house (only 200 years old!) and invited us to stay with them, we met a retired opera singer who serenaded us at lunch and my husband returned the favor by playing their piano for the rest of the afternoon, learned that one does not drive a car through central Pisa on Sunday afternoons (!) and ended up sharing gelato with a charming family who tried to explain the rules. We tasted wine in a barn, ate pizza at a roadside stand, feasted on truffles until I thought we would burst - none of these were planned. They just happened. On and on and on it went for the rest of the week. If we'd had plans for these days, we would have missed the fun of our capricious travel.

                                          Bravo to all of you who can make serious plans and follow through. I envy your organization and dedication. After living this long inside myself, I know that I am incapable of following your steps. Maybe I lack the planning gene.

                                          Edit: I just realized that I forgot to take business travel into consideration. I am retired now but when I traveled for business, it was necessary to have reservations in advance.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Sherri

                                            I don't at all do what you are describing: "Several months in advance, knowing that I will be eating at the XYZ place for lunch and having dinner at the ABC restaurant that evening [followed by more of the same for the rest of the week]"

                                            Rather, I research a range of possibilities and cross-reference them to find the best options. I then consider those options during the trip, to the extent that they fit in with what I'm doing otherwise. In my entire life I have made maybe two restaurant reservations in advance of a vacation.

                                            I am also fine with serendipitous deliciousness (see my post above regarding my recent BCN trip). A person that enjoys researching doesn't necessarily hate spontaneity. What I do hate is wasting a meal opportunity on a bad, touristy, overpriced restaurant. Too often, people who neither plan nor choose serendipitous spots wisely end up doing that.

                                            1. re: travelmad478

                                              Your Barcelona trip sounds wonderful/delicious. Isn't Barcelona a terrific eating city? Sounds like we travel in very similar ways. Have some information and use it as the spirit moves you.

                                          2. I joined chowhound because of business travel. I got some bad advice from Zagat, and some terrible advice from the San Francisco Examiner, and somebody on flyertalk.com told me to trust the hounds. I start researching as soon as I think I might have a trip.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: AreBe

                                              Me too, AreBe. I trust the Hounds and read prodigiously about any place I'm heading to. Recently we've been doing little gastrotrips to SF/Bay Area and Portland, OR in the US. Because we're repeat visitors, I've had the chance to compile lists of places sorted geographically for both (happy to share these if any one's interested) and use them to make selections from. We tend to wing it more for lunch, whereas I'm a fan of knowing where my dinner will be : -).

                                            2. Usually a couple of days on chowhound will give us a great deal of info that is trustworthy and delicious!

                                              1. This depends.

                                                We travel a great deal, and usually when I make the flight reservations, I make my restaurant reservations. Some trips are not quite that organized, but most are.

                                                I booked Sydney four months ago, and made all dinner reservations within a few weeks of the airline reservations.

                                                For London in October, we made the airline reservations four months ago, and the restaurant reservations within about three months, as we needed to get a head-count for a few nights.

                                                Now, Hawai`i in Sept. has not had any restaurants booked yet, but will soon.

                                                Paris, last October, had restaurant bookings six months out. London, that month/year, was booked that far out. London in Dec. was booked in about August.

                                                It just depends, but is usually done, right after the airlines are booked.