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?
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!)
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."