Try to go back to discussions you had with friends about trips. Try to remember what were the things that people liked and remembered most about their trips. Was it the hotel, the people, the food, the museums, the flights or the weather?
What were the things least remembered?
What may have been the single most important factor based on which they characterised a trip as a success or a failure?
In the same way, what were the main factors that made them choose a certain destination or a certain configuration in their trip. Why did they choose Africa instead of Asia, B&B for one week in Tokyo instead of a 5-star hotel for 3 days in Kyoto, 3-day Inca Trail and Peru instead of 5 days in Kruger Park in South Africa?
If we really think about it, it may be quite difficult to set apart each and every single factor or attribute. Still, while we try to break down a trip to its several “building blocks”, could we then synthesize them and group all those to just few core, basic attributes that every trip can be characterized of?
Let us see!
Cost is probably the most important attribute of a trip. They truly and rightly say that money makes the world go round … and I can “paraphrase” and say that money make you go round the world. For every trip – and we are not talking about a trip down to the local beach – we need to allocate a certain amount of money. For a complex trip the cost associated can really discourage people from executing it. Of course, if you live in the Arabian peninsula or if you are the son or daughter of a tycoon, cost may be not even an issue, but under normal circumstances one of the things you need to consider is how much money is required for a trip. With cost we can generally define the budget available, the budget planned or the budget executed. As these may diversify we generally define as “cost” – the general amount of money associated with executing of a trip. Of course when you get to the nitty grity details it might be difficult to define as a trip’s cost the pair of trousers you bought – you might in anyway be buying them back home, but these are trivialities that may be of interest to you if you have a tendency or expect to follow a career in accounting, so in the end of the day it is up to you to associate such costs with a trip or not.
Another attribute is time. Time has two main dimensions. The duration of the trip (mainly) and the period in the year executed. When preparing for a trip one has to define the “when” and the “how long”. Effectively one has to set the time boundaries. In order to set these time boundaries one needs to take into account personal preferences/attributes (vacations available, kids etc) and destination attributes (weather, events taking place, season).
Cost and time are in general deterministic – after a trip we can definitely associate money and days with a trip. Still, as we need to make our lives complex but interesting and intriguing, we associate a third attribute with travel which is, thank God, very subjective. If it were not subjective, then literary all people on the globe would be having the same wish-list in terms of travel destinations.
This attribute encompasses all those sub attributes that are related to the actual “being somewhere” – and of course travelling back and forth from there.
Did you have a good time? Was the hotel clean? Was the weather nice? Did you enjoy the food? Was the location boring? Was it packed with people to the level of never going back again? Would you suggest others to visit the place? Has the location lived up to you expectations and, in the end, did the trip met its objectives? Of course, we don’t want to get too technical, but if we think about it, even before a trip is planned we tend to define objectives even if we don’t do that so rigidly and consciously.
Of course this attribute we could as well name it “Personal Fulfillment” but as it related partly to our personal preferences and partly to the “subjective” quality or the trip, let us call it “Experience”.
All three attributes, and the fun begins here, are not independent from each other. For somebody living in Europe, choosing a 4-week trip Down Under instead of 3 weeks in Sicily is more than certain to skyrocket the budget to outer space levels. Adding up a 3-day scuba-diving school in your itinerary will increase a trip to Malta to almost a week. Wishing to visit Switzerland, but at the same time wishing to go skiing, will mean that your trip needs to be rescheduled for January and not summer and you are definitely cannot and will not travel from Vienna to New York around Christmas with…peanuts!
The combination and tweaking of all these attributes defines well a trip. In the same way, the initial tweaking of these attributes is the conscious or unconscious process we perform before selecting a destination and how much we tweak cost, time and experience does not just change a trip’s configuration but i actually used to select one destination instead of another as part of the decision making process.
So, next time we plan a trip let us consider all these attributes!