For a trip like our Normandy and Ypres trip a plan was an absolute must. We had a ton of things we wanted to see and a limited time to see them. In the end I can’t believe just how much we packed into our trip, but at the same time I never felt rushed or exhausted like we had just run around all day. So how did we do it? Or really how did L do it (as he definitely took care of the bulk of this itinerary)? How did the Battle Plan come to be? I’m so glad you asked. :-)
It started out as a blank spreadsheet in Google Docs that we both had access to so we could both enter/edit information and see everything as it came together. Being 5000 miles apart this was definitely the way to go so we could work on it together over many, many phone calls. We then listed sites that we each already knew about and used TripAdvisor extensively to find sites we didn’t know about and get reviews on everything. With limited time these reviews were very handy to weed out the sites that shouldn’t get top priority Please note though that TripAdvisor isn’t perfect and some sites are duplicates but it isn’t always clear that they are.
After creating our list of “things we’d like to see” we started filling in things like TripAdvisor rating, locale, what the site was, opening hours, entrance fees, address (not shown) and how much time we figured we’d need to visit the site (not shown).
From here L plotted each site on a map (using Google Maps Engine) which enabled us to see any sites that were just a little too far away to be visited on this trip. Also since we were visiting in March we had to consider that some places wouldn’t be open for the season yet so we cut those places that we found would be closed. From the map we could see where each of the sites were in relation to our hotel and decided we would start with the far western sites and work our way east so we’d be as far east as possible on the fourth day when we’d be driving to Belgium. With this information L worked his magic and finished the Battle Plan.
From here L entered each of the sites on a new spreadsheet in the order that we’d be visiting them. He then included the amount of time figured we’d need to visit and the drive time between each site (he used Google Maps to figure out drive times). This enabled him to put everything into a timetable per day with us starting about 9:00 each morning (except the first morning when we had an 8:50 am reservation on the Eurotunnel) and getting us back to our hotel about 6:00 each evening for a relaxing dinner. He did brilliantly! His times were just about spot on for everything and it worked out that if a place took a little longer than expected (Pointe du Hoc) it was evened out by a site that was closed (Maisy Battery). And with this our plan, that affectionately became known as “The Battle Plan”, was created.
Finally, as promised, here is the finished Battle Plan that anyone is more than welcome to use for their own trip planning. If you do use the plan we would absolutely love to hear from you about your trip and if the plan was helpful for you.
Please click to Download a Printable PDF version of the Battle Plan.
First Post in this Series: Hitting the Road and Taking the Eurotunnel Shuttle Under the English Channel