Point Me to First Class with Devon Gimbel MD | Rewards Travel Planning with Dr. Amita Kumar

39. Rewards Travel Planning with Dr. Amita Kumar

Nov 27, 2023

When it comes to travel, some of us love the planning phase, while others would prefer to have someone else handle all the planning, allowing them to simply turn up and enjoy their trip. Whichever category you fall into, today's episode is for you.

Today, I'm joined by another physician-entrepreneur who is taking her travel experiences to the next level by leveraging her business expenses: Dr. Amita Kumar. Dr. Kumar is a primary care physician in San Antonio, Texas. Recently, she decided to take a sabbatical from her clinical practice and since one of her passions is traveling with her family, she has found a more economical way to do so by utilizing credit card points.

Amita now helps other families schedule and plan their own travel itineraries, as well as coaching on time management and generally getting things done. She is discussing her love of planning, the kind of planning drama that comes up for her clients, and she’s sharing how she helps people overcome their planning blocks so they can start making the most of the points they earn and the time they spend traveling.


What You’ll Learn from this Episode: 

  • How early exposure to the world of credit card points has changed the way Amita and her family travel.
  • Why, for some of us, the travel experience starts before we even step on the airplane.
  • What Amita’s travel bucket list currently looks like and how she decides what she wants to experience.
  • The difficulties Amita sees her clients having with travel planning, and how she helps them overcome these challenges.
  • Why making the most of your vacation doesn’t have to mean packing every minute of your days with activities.
  • How we see people experiencing more stress than necessary around their travel planning.
  • Some practical tips for Type-A travelers who want to experience a little more balance on vacation.


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Full Episode Transcript:

Welcome to Point Me to First Class, the only show for employed professionals, entrepreneurs, and business owners who are looking to optimize their higher-than-average expenses to travel the world. I'm your host, Devon Gimbel, and I believe that your expenses are your greatest untapped asset if you know how to leverage them. Ready to dive into the world of credit card points and miles so you can travel more, travel better, and travel often? Let's get started.

Devon: Welcome back to the podcast everybody. Today I am joined by another fantastic guest, and I cannot wait to get into conversation with her. We've been chatting a little bit before I press record. I already know that she's going to have so many incredible tips and pearls of wisdom to share with us. So without further ado, I would like to welcome to the podcast today Dr. Amita Kumar. Dr. Amita, thank you so much for joining us. Why don't you introduce yourself very briefly? Tell us all a little bit about who you are and what you do.

Dr. Amita: Thank you so much for having me. I'm super excited to be here. I have been travel planning for a long time. I love to travel. I recently started like a little mini company called Bucket List Travel. Related, not related, and kind of exclusive to our community. So just FYI.

I am a physician, obviously. I practice primary care internal medicine and recently became a health and life coach, which I think goes par for the course when you're a primary care doc. But I think I now have some more tools, both for me and my patients and also my colleagues. I think along the same lines with all of us, it has to do with planning our lives, planning our years, and of course planning our holidays. So really excited to be here.

Devon: Thank you so much. That is exactly what we are going to be talking about today. This whole entire topic of travel planning because I know so many people have different experiences with in different relationships to planning. I think there's some of us who love planning. Where especially once we've spent the time to accrue up our points or save up the money that we want to spend on traveling, we've requested time off. Part of the fun for some of us is the actual planning of a trip, not just the taking the trip but the planning of it. 

But I have come to realize in my elder years that not everybody feels the same way about planning as I do. Some people actually find travel planning to be maybe the least interesting or the least exciting part of their actual traveling. So we're going to talk about this entire spectrum of travel planning today. Especially this is such an area of expertise for you. But before we get into that, I'm just really curious for myself how did you get into travel, and especially the world of traveling using points. 

Dr. Amita: So, I've been really lucky. My dad has been into points for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Canada in a small place called Regina, Saskatchewan. Yes, Regina, R-E-G-I-N-A. It is north of North Dakota, for those that don't know. Like six hours north of Minot. 

So yes, born and raised. It is not really easy to get out of there basically. So for many, many years my dad actually grew up there too. He wasn't born there, but he grew up there. He always wanted to get out of there. He was like let's go check out this place and that place. We, of course, did lots of driving trips. 

But somewhere along the lines, he was like oh, there used to be these old deals like $99 within the states. It was probably when we were really young. It used to be on like Northwest Airlines. I remember so clearly because we drove to Minot, okay, to take these like $99 flights anywhere basically in the States or something I remember

Then soon after that, he'd be like oh, there's like credit cards that you can get that like you can collect points. Of course, I have no idea which credit cards they were at the time. Then I eventually went away to college in Montreal and then medical school in Ireland and my parents moved to Texas.

So during all that time, I remember him being like oh, there's like a great deal. When are you going to come home for Christmas? What are your dates? Oh, there's blackout dates at that time. This is like peak season. It's like crazy expensive. Can't you just do your exam later. I don't know something along those lines. Then points travel became like an option to not spend ridiculous amounts of money during peak season because, of course, when you're in school, your holidays are always during peak season. That's how I kind of got started in it

Then once I had my own family, we started doing it mostly, I think that United because, well Continental at the time of course in Houston was our hub. It was affordable, I'll call it. Back in the day it was like 12,000 points easily to fly one way almost anywhere. 

I went to residency in Lexington and my family was in Houston. So you know flying back and forth to Houston once I had my daughter especially was like a big deal. Right? If there was like a deal for 20,000 points round trip, we like jumped on board. 

Since then, you know now I'm a family of four. I think it's evolved, especially as for joining the Point Me to First Class group. I'm like we can travel business class and not spend lots of money. I've not traveled a ton on business class, especially because I guess me and my husband haven't traveled a ton internationally by ourselves. Kind of at the moment, I'm refusing to take my children there.

So it's been just really amazing. My dad has been using ANA for a long time, which I haven't even gotten on board with that yet. But we love using points because it just feels like kind of a bonus.

I was telling you earlier right about our trip to Costa Rica a couple years ago. Costa Rica, I think, is like notorious for spring break travel because it's like perfect weather. It's like the perfect amount days eight, nine days. It's always, of course, way more expensive during March. But our trip literally cost us as much, the whole eight days cost us as much as the flights. It's kind of painful sometimes. But when you can do half and half with points, it just feels, for me, it feels psychologically better.

Devon: Yeah, I agree. I think that brings up sort of a great point and a great opportunity, at least the way that I experienced it within the world of points travel, which is that there's no one right way to do things or there's no one right way to use points. To me, that's actually a very kind of freeing thought that it's not that points are only, the right way to use points is to use all your points and have no out of pocket expense. Maybe that is the priority for one trip. Right?

But like you said another trip the ability to then just defray the cost using points, but still have a cash budget that you're willing to spend. To be able to kind of strategically employ your points when and where it makes the most sense to you, I think, is one of the enormous benefits of being able to use points. So I agree with you completely about that. 

But one of the things that we were talking about a little bit earlier is you mentioned this idea of just the evolution of traveling and kind of what that has looked like for you. I was wondering if you could speak a little bit more about that.

Dr. Amita: I think as my kids are getting older, I think that's where the evolution of my travel has changed. Probably like most of us, I have a list of places that I want to go. I mean I don't know if most of us have like 90 places on the list like maybe some of us do, but I kind of changed my list. 

I don't know if this is a digression, but just something I thought about the other day. Instead of just listing a bunch of cities or countries, I actually changed it to I want to experience this activity in this place. Like one of my things on my bucket list is to experience whale watching in Punta Mita, for example, or whale watching in Carmel

Next year, or 2024, all of our passports require renewal at different times of the year. So I kind of decided to stay in the United States for 2024. I'm not from here. So I haven't been a lot of places. I've been to Yellowstone many times because I'm from there, but I haven't been to Yosemite. I haven't been to Utah. I've been to Grand Canyon like one time. 

But as my kids are getting older, they're 11 and 14 now, I also think that some of the like fun adventure trips, they're kind of into hiking now. They're really into nature and animals. That the Disney World trip has happened. I'm like officially done with Disney World. It was great. I loved it. We did not travel. Well, we did. We did book our flights on points, but I didn't use points on hotel or the park. I don't know if you can use points on the parks. I wish you could. 

But it's I think it's just like slowly evolved. So my own list, I feel like I've revised it many times. That's something that, to be honest, I've had a hard time coming to terms with because probably like most of us, I am a person of my word. Including to myself. So when I make this list, I'm like this is the list. Until I complete my list, there is no changing of the list, right? 

Like I might move things further up the list and down the list, but this is the list. But it's kind of silly. I mean, silly even saying it out loud. But I just finished Atomic Habits, and one of the things he talked about was revising and reviewing. So that's my new evolution of things. Bettering but also changing.

Devon: Yeah, one of the things that you mentioned that kind of stood out to me is this idea about creating that list of the places that you want to go. I love hearing how that has kind of shifted for you to then also kind of focusing on well, in addition to those actual finite locations, what are some of the experiences that I actually want to have? I think that that's a really interesting way to look at travel.

But I think so many of us can relate to that idea of having the list of places and then inevitably what happens is we arrange our schedules, right? Maybe we block off a period of time that we're able to travel. We've saved up either our money or points or a combination of both. That is when I think a really interesting thing happens. I see this only because now I'm in conversation with so many different people, obviously my own personal friends, my own family members, and then the broader group of people in one of the points travel community that I get to interact with. 

I think an interesting thing happens for some of us when we sit down, and it's actually time to start making decisions. Where do I want to go? Right? What do I want to do when I'm there? What is it all going to look like? Like I mentioned, I think for some of us we experienced that part of the travel process almost the before you even step foot on the airplane as being part of what is so interesting and exciting.

Like I said, I've also come to realize oh, not everybody has that same experience as me. Not everybody is sitting on their laptop at eight or nine o'clock at night, and just landing fake trips because it's so much fun. Other people have a very different experience around travel planning

So I would really love to hear your experience because I know that you work also with so many of your personal friends and family as well as with people through your travel planning business, specifically around this topic of making plans for travel. So I'm really curious to hear what do you see coming up for people around travel planning, both the good and the bad?

Dr. Amita: So I totally, I love, love planning trips. It's almost kind of like I plan this whole thing, probably similar to you, right? Like, I get super excited about it. I'm like okay well. Okay, that trip’s planned. Okay, when's the next one? I have to catch myself, and my kids have actually caught me. Like can we go on one trip before we plan the next one?

But it's not because I'm like oh, that's done, and I don't care about it. It's just because I just get excited about exploring the next options, right? I do understand though that there are others that do not get excited, and that it is super stressful. 

I will say that even for myself, although I love travel planning now for the four of us like me, my husband, and my kids because it's relatively easy. Nobody has any, well, if they have complaints, I just tell them too bad. But when I'm traveling, I plan for like my more extended family. 

Last year, was it last year, we went to Turks and Caicos, and it was my parents, and then my uncle and my aunt, my sister's family, and my family, my brother's family. Everyone has different needs. Like we there were 17 of us. Oh and my cousin who's single, right. 

So like, there's like all these different ages, different activity, ability, different stamina. Some people want to go out at night. Some people want to wake up early. I'm like I need to go snorkeling. I'm going to walk to this beach that's one and a half miles away. I'm going to drag my kids with me and my husband's going to carry bags.

But in the past, I used to be like tomorrow's plan is we were waking up at 7:00 a.m. Be ready to go. I wouldn't even like let people have five minutes. As if there was literally like a timeline. Like grab a granola bar, get moving. Then I would take responsibility for if they didn't have a good time. 

So there is like ups and downs. I think it's a learning process. I was telling you earlier about my trip to Disney World a few years ago with my extended family. My kids were much younger. I gave them literally like less than two hours of pool time. They were so excited when they got in and then so disappointed when I told them they only had two hours.

that I really think that there is different levels. I think that when you want to plan, you should plan. It is overwhelming. Like going on TripAdvisor and putting in Turks and Caicos is really overwhelming. But there is something to be said about planning maybe one or two top activities and then figuring it out when you get there. I never thought I would ever say that, but some of my favorite things were impromptu. 

Devon: Yeah, I think this is such a common thing for people to do, at least type A people. People who identify as planners or maximizers. I think especially most of our audience, I think, is based in North America, though certainly people have experiences being raised all over the world, or maybe living in other areas of the world. 

But I think there is this very sort of North American experience or cultural mentality around maximizing time and being productive. Right? I think that that is especially true at work. I think that bleeds over into our non-work times. I think that for those of us who have explicitly and implicitly kind of been preached, kind of sort of how amazing productivity and efficiency is at work and getting the most out of every single minute. 

Especially in North America where I don't think that we pay enough attention to actually having real vacation time compared to other countries, right? The amount of time that we have off, especially paid time off, I personally think is woefully small

So I do think that it's very common for those of us based in North America that when we do get our “vacation” time or time off, it is so limited for us that we want to take full advantage of it. I think sometimes what happens is we conflate taking advantage of our time off with checking off as many things as possible on the tick list. Especially if you're going somewhere on vacation that that might be the only time you're ever going to that one very particular destination or that one very particular location. 

I think it's very common for people to do that. Like you said, the TripAdvisor research thing where it's like I may have five days in this city, and TripAdvisor has told me the top 217 activities. So let me just stack those back to back to back to back on my five straight days because otherwise I'm not actually taking advantage of my vacation. Right? 

I'm just curious to hear from you from your own personal experience or working with other people as you've helped them to plan trips. What do you think is useful for those of us who notice this tendency in ourselves that I think that making the most of my vacation means packing my days completely full with every activity I can find? What advice do you have for those of us where the experience of doing that isn't actually pleasant? 

Because I think hey, if that experience works for you, go for it. Like have every trip like that. But I think that there's a lot of us who kind of plan trips that way, but then don't actually enjoy the experience of it. So I'm curious what you would kind of offer as pieces of advice if anyone has had that experience before. 

Dr. Amita: So I love checklists. I mean, this is why I have paper and a phone because I write down what I'm going to do today and then I cross it off my paper. Because it's no longer enough for me to delete it on the phone. So I do love checklists. Most of the people that are with me when I'm traveling do not, and they don't even know what's on the checklist. 

So that's the other thing, right? Like, sometimes I give them sort of a rundown, and they kind of look at me like oh crap. Including where we're having lunch and what time etc. But I think maybe top advice would be, and this is sort of what I do when I talk with my clients, is what are your top priorities? 

Don't look at TripAdvisor. Before you go to TripAdvisor, don't tell me oh, my top priority is to do one, three, and seven on the TripAdvisor list. No, no. Like is your top priority food, for example? Is your top priority relaxation and sleeping in? Is your top priority going and checking out the clubs? Or is it literally like, I'm going to Peru therefore I need to go to Machu Picchu. 

When we went to Chile like many, many, many years ago, this is when my dad, I guess, was planning. We literally just, we didn't have an itinerary officially. We just chased restaurants. I had a friend of a friend basically driving around. We follow Fodors. I don't know. We've been following for doors for 25 years. I know TripAdvisor is probably better or similar or whatever, but Fodors Choice has just led us into some really cool off the beaten path restaurants. 

So we literally pointed to like this restaurant, and then we drove two hours to go to that restaurant. On the way we would see what there was. We would ask our friend driver about the things that we're going to see. So when people ask me about how was Chile, I'm like it was amazing. I've no idea if I saw any of the things you're supposed to see. I can tell you what I loved and a couple of really cool places along the way to this restaurant. So that was our goal during that trip. We had like the absolute best time, including a flat tire. So that was the goal of that trip. 

When I went to London, I, of course, had a checklist in my head because I've been to London. I'm like these are the things that we need to do. As a 42 year old, I want to go to this restaurant, this restaurant, this restaurant in less than 72 hours with jetlag with my kids, etc. 

I had to kind of ixnay it because yes technically that was my goal, but really, I am not a super duper foodie. Like I don't need to go to the Michelin star restaurants. I don't need to go to this restaurant and that restaurant. But what my kids wanted to do was like go to Abbey Road. They wanted to see Big Ben. 

I didn't think I would ever be caught like dead on one of those double decker hop on hop off buses because I'm just the off the beaten path girl, especially because we paid 50 pounds a person. But like it was so fun. The kids loved it. They got to like take all of it in. The weather was amazing, right? So I literally booked one restaurant. Well, I booked two and canceled one. We did lots of wandering. It was great. So I'm a newfound non-checklister in some ways. 

Devon: That's something that I have really noticed in myself as well. I don't know if this is just a factor of getting older, getting more tired, just having in general less energy to just create like the endless checklist and marking it all off. Or maybe this has also just been a shift that I and maybe some of you can relate to this in terms of, again, this evolution of travel. That travel for me now sometimes looks very different than it did for me 20 years ago.

When I'm traveling by myself for four months in Southeast Asia, that's a very different experience than my trying to drag my two children through an airport and going somewhere on a very strict timeline. Compared to kind of what I used to do when I was a lot younger by myself

One of the things that I'm really curious to hear from about you a little bit more about this idea about people's different relationships with planning is that so one of the things that I see happen is, especially as people get into this world of points travel, where they feel like they started to see all of the opportunities that potentially can open up to them when they actually can start using points in addition to cash to being able to book things.

Different destinations open up to them, or different travel experiences in terms of flying a certain airline or staying in a certain resort begin to open up for them. I see people get really, really excited during that point of accumulation phase, right? It's sort of that anticipation phase of wow, this great thing is going to be possible. So the earning of the points and the collecting of the points is really fun for them

Then when the time comes to use the points and make a plan, I sometimes see people kind of collapse under what they experience is a lot of pressure at that point and really feeling stuck. I see so many people will post messages or post comments about well, I finally have all these points. Now I'm afraid to do something with them. I'm really curious to hear from you. Where do you think that sense of stuckness comes from? What can people do about it?

Dr. Amita: I think it's human nature. I think it's one of these things like I have this great ability, I have to get the best deal. If I find out that somebody got a better deal than me then what have I done? I've wasted my points. That took so much effort. I could have done this. I could have done that. It could have been better this way or that way. It really comes down to I think a couple of things. 

One is what I say in my own coaching business over and over again so I feel like I've repeated myself so many times, which is being you, right? Like being authentic to you. Like we said earlier, what works best for you and your family. I had this exact same situation. I put out on the group like a few months ago about going to, well, I guess it was six months, more than six months ago now.

Going to Europe, flying business class. I wanted to take my kids, but I didn't want them to be in business class. I was like it's fine because they're not old enough, quite old enough to be back there by themselves, etc. Collecting Avios points, well Chase points and then transferring them to Avios. Maximizing on PTO, that was the other thing. 

So I wanted to fly right after the school ended, which is like May 25th so we could maximize Memorial Day and have one extra day off, right? But of course, couldn't get that day. I had to fly from Houston. It was a Houston London direct. I didn't even want to go to London. I wanted to go to Dublin. I mean, it's a whole like thing in your head. I would be telling my husband this whole like story. He's like dude, I don't care. I don't know. You've made up this whole story in your head about what you need to do with your points and what day you have to travel. 

I think we do this in many scenarios, which is tell ourselves the story. I think just backing up like a moment and then feeling the feelings of. Here's what happened. Actually, in the end, I spent more points than I thought it was going to, and ended up going after Memorial Day and flying to London and not even directly to Dublin. So I had to take my kids to London, which is fine. I wasted those two days that I could have spent in in Ireland in my mind. 

But see, this is the thing, like the story I was telling myself. Why do I need to drive to Houston to fly to London when I'm really trying to get from San Antonio to Dublin? But it was okay. Then I was like, wait a minute, if I just step back a second, I could actually have a couple of days in London. London is not a place I need to necessarily spend seven days in right this minute because it is probably a place my kids will go again, just like I have gone before. 

Just because it's a place I've gone before, it doesn't mean it has to be off my checklist, and I never have to go again. Right? Like same thing. Again, going back to my like long trajectory of goals. What is my goal for my summer trip to Europe with my kids? Is it to see Big Ben and to see a show and to go to Soho and to go buy something, whatever, all these things. Or is it really to just give them a taste of Europe? 

I had to step back from that. I think that's, I know that was not a concise version of saying that. But to summarize, I think it's a moment of stepping back, looking at your general values, looking at your actual goals for the year of travel maybe or for this vacation of travel. Because summer to Europe go, go, go and summer beach, nothing

For me, all of my trips, even if it's beach is like go, go, go. I'll find every activity right. I did a little of nothing in Europe, which was actually really nice. So looking back at your goals and who you're going with and what your wanted outcome from it is like. I don't want my kids to be like Mom, Europe was great, but you made us walk too much. Mom, you were grumpy because you woke us up every day at like 8:00 a.m., and I was jet lagged. Whatever. Something along those lines.

Devon: Yeah, I think that emphasis on really for your own self first clarifying what is your wanted outcome. I think especially too if you are doing planning that involves or impacts other people, what I tend to see is that within partnerships or within families, there tends to be like one planner, right? Like, yeah, everybody might have some input, but generally, you don't have four people all equally planning

So I think also kind of remembering to bring those people in as well. Like not just defining for yourself as the primary planner what is your personal wanted outcome because that might actually not look exactly like your seven year old’s wanted outcome. I ask my four year old what she wants to do, there's a lot of times that it doesn't bear a lot of resemblance to what I actually want to do on that same given day or that same time

So I think this is such a great kind of piece of advice to anchor into when it comes to all phases of the travel planning. Even from beginning , sitting down and just having literally that map open in front of you and saying, where could we go? Where do we want to go, and why? 

To be able to anchor into that what is your wanted outcome and using that very figuratively like a compass to point you to not only the place where maybe you want to go but also then obviously once you're there, what do you want your days to look like once you're there on the ground, and you're actually creating that plan? Even if the plan is, I don't want to have my time scheduled out every 10 minute increment for the five or seven days that I'm going to a given place. 

I think that keeping that wanted outcome, like kind of staying tethered to it and remembering what is that for this particular trip? Or what is that even for this particular day? What is the wanted outcome for this particular day I think can be so useful. 

Especially in also keeping us out of another I think really common trap when it comes to travel, which is I think the tendency for us to compare. Like the tendency for us to compare our trip with our friend who went to the same place last year, or compare the experience that we're having to, I don't know, whatever we're seeing on Instagram or Facebook. Like some person we don't even know personally, they have posted about that. So I'm curious just what your thoughts are about that.

Dr. Amita: So, in my experience, yes. So I love photographs in general. So a lot of my trips are based on like getting a, well based on, but also just like oh, I can't wait to get like some beautiful pictures of this area. A classic one is I know most of us has probably heard of Moraine Lake. Okay, Moraine Lake is in the Banff National Parks in Canada. I'm from Canada. I've been to Banff many times. 

I've actually never been to Moraine Lake. I don't know why. I guess Lake Louise, Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont. I didn't know about Moraine Lake until Instagram. It's become so popular in the last few years because of Instagram that you actually can't even drive there. You have to have a shuttle or be on a tour, etc., or you have to stay there. Like it's totally nutso. 

So this summer, I was like that's it. I am going to Moraine Lake. I am taking my family. I'm going to find a way there. I don't care if I have to pay 80 bucks a person to get there. Well, eventually we found out that like my mom hurt her knee. So she had like a handicap tag. Well, if you have a handicapped tag, you can get in there. Okay. I'm like oh my God. This is amazing. It's going to happen. It's going to happen. 

Well, I also was technically there for a family reunion. So the day that I was planning to go Moraine Lake, we had our family reunion photos, they ran over one hour. We had our evening like formal dinner like four hours later. It was going to take us an hour and a half drive tomorrow and like and all those things. I actually was like you guys can just go in the hot tub and play pass the trash

My kids were so, and my sister was so happy. Like they didn't even know what they were going to miss, right? Like, I guess this is the point. I haven't missed Moraine Lake for the last 42 years. I really want that picture on that gorgeous lake in my canoe, etc., etc., okay, but I am no worse off because I didn't get to do it

It was uncomfortable feeling the feeling when it was like that morning I was staring at my watch over and over again. Like, I gotta get out of here. I gotta get out of here. But I was like I'm here for a family reunion. I'm really going to ditch the family afternoon of chilling with everyone so that I can get one picture? Or am I just going to get this another time? Or am I going to just forego it altogether? I think comparison I guess is a real thing. 

This summer we went to Positano, I did not see a bunch of pictures. But there's a whole article about this lady who like ruined her family's trip apparently because she wanted to get this picture on the beach house in the background. I don't know exactly. I really, that article kind of resonated with me a little bit. 

Because I can see how dragging your whole family with all their stuff down the stairs, etc., down the road, getting to the beach, having this beautiful picture is, okay maybe worth it to some of us, but maybe it's not. Really being present, there are a million spots that are not necessarily on Instagram that you can make whatever you want to make out of it. 

Again, the photographers in the crowd, maybe you got to do what you got to do. But make sure that you've kind of, you're not trying to over multitask maybe that day. I'm definitely guilty of that. So I am kind of trying to take a step back and remember my general values of presence and time and family. That less is more many days. 

So the comparison, I guess, happens. I'm not saying don't because that's human nature. Comparing yourself and seeing all the pictures, I mean, this is why we know. Everyone knows Facebook and Instagram causes depression. Okay, we know this. I was teaching my 14 year old this. But recognizing that you are comparing and that it's normal to compare and then feeling the feelings of I really want to do that but that you're not going to die if you don't. Seriously, you're not going to die if you don't, and you're going to have a great time regardless, don't mess up the next four hours too.

Devon: Yeah, that's such helpful advice to hear because I think that it can be so easy, especially when we do have a plan in our mind. We love our plan. That when reality doesn't match up, it can be very disappointing. We can really sometimes ruin the experience for ourselves when we had this picture in our mind, whether it's because we are comparing it to what someone else showed was possible for a certain location, or just the thing that we wanted to have happen on our trip

So keeping that in mind about just stuff is not always going to go according to plan. That's okay. It also doesn't then have to be the end of your experience or the end of your vacation. So I'm really interested to hear from you because you do spend so much time planning your own vacations and helping other people plan theirs. 

Are there any apps, any websites, any concrete travel planning tools or resources out there that people can use to make their own travel planning easier in order to help cut down on some of this overwhelm when people are just faced with literally millions of options if they were just to run a Google search on a certain location?

Dr. Amita: Oh, man. I think you have to kind of pick your favorites these days. Like there are so many Facebook groups. Okay, so I told you that one of my favorite things is Fodors. So that's just me, personally. I love the Fodors Choice little starred things. Some are mainstream, some are not. I always go to Fodors first when it comes to like places to stay and restaurants to go to. It always has the highlights of things to do. I don't even go to the things to do in that section because I feel like it's the same as a lot of others. I think TripAdvisor is better in that way because I can see pictures. 

I think the other thing is I look for itineraries versus things to do. Oh, I almost forgot that my newest thing that I've been doing is joining that place’s Facebook group. So like I joined the like Italy travel Facebook group. Kind of, I don't know. Sometimes it's because I want to know about what to do there, but it's also because you want to know what's happening there. The road is closed. 

I joined the Banff Facebook group. So everyone was posting their pictures of Moraine Lake, but also they were posting like I didn't know the road closed at 10:00 p.m. We were driving to Golden. They were like don't forget the road closes at 10:00 p.m. So if you need to get to wherever, and I was like oh crap. This is a huge resource that nobody anywhere had mentioned.

Now, maybe I just didn't do enough research, but really how much research am I going to do? I think like most of us, I get analysis paralysis sometimes. So it's like overwhelming amounts of information. Then I'm like trying to cram everything into the day. You can always start that way. 

So I actually use some travel planning companies at times too, especially places I've never been. Like when we went to Italy, I actually, especially because it was like 10 of us. I signed up with like kimkim. I don't know if they're good or bad. I only used them for the first time

They have like a local source there that helps us with like transfers and things.  So we were in Rome, and we transferred to Sorrento, and then we flew back from Naples. We wanted to do like some train experience. Everybody can do private transfers, but you want to take your kids on the train, want to like ride on the train, all that stuff. So I just didn't know all the logistics of doing it. It's not like I couldn't. But just with my kids involved, I used them this time for like part of our itinerary. 

When it's just me and my husband or if it's just me and my parents then I don't use that kind of company most times because I personally like the adventure of like not knowing. I think it's the same reason I like to use Airbnb versus hotels many times because part of my adventure is showing up there and being like they said this was going to be bigger, and it's not. But also like oh, crap. There's three flights of stairs. I had no idea that there was this gorgeous balcony back here. 

So as much as I'd like knowing the details of every single thing, I think the magic of travel is actually not knowing every detail and being surprised by the local coffee place downstairs. So I think that you have to kind of decide which places you like the best. 

So I think there's like the Physician Can Travel community. I don't go on there very often anymore because I think it's overwhelming. I do post on there sometimes because I feel like my, for example, my Costa Rica itinerary is perfect. I feel like my Serengeti itinerary is perfect. But I think it's also perfect for my family of four. So it's important to not try to get the perfect places or things to do maybe but rather the perfect itinerary for your family's goals. 

Devon: You know, I think that is such an amazing point to make that I feel like that that is the perfect ending point for this conversation. Because everything you've shared today has been so helpful. I think for people who are starting to have so many options available to them because of their points, it is very common for them to start getting very overwhelmed or stuck, or get sucked into, like you said, the analysis paralysis of now being able to do so many different things

So I hope that everybody takes from you some of these amazing words of wisdom that you've shared with us today about travel planning in terms of staying really anchored to the experiences that you want to have, especially if that looks different from what you see other people doing, either in your real life or in fake life of what's posted online.

Really reminding yourself of what is your wanted outcome with your specific trip, with the day to day of your vacation, and continuing to make plans and work towards that wanted outcome. I think that that is going to help so many people stay out of those really overwhelming feelings of not knowing what to do next, or how to put together a trip that they and their families are really going to love. So thank you, Amita, for joining me today and for sharing all of your thoughts with us. I so appreciate it. For people who are interested in learning more about you or connecting with you, where is an easy place for people to find you online?

Dr. Amita: I think in this context probably my email or website. So my website is really super simple, bucketlisttravel360.com with two T’s. So bucketlisttravel.com. Then my email, I mean that [email protected] is just an easy place or, of course, Facebook or whatever. But I'm super happy to help anyone with any travel itinerary. I love looking stuff up. I love planning for the rental car thing. I love all the all the aspects of all of it. The flying, the traveling, the eating. So if I could be of any assistance, I'd be happy to help out and plan along with you. 

Devon: Amazing, and we will be sure to link up all of those places in the show notes for the episode so that if you happen to be listening to this while you're driving or you're out walking, don't worry. Just go back to the episode show notes. You'll be able to find all of the information there. Amita, thank you so much for joining us today. Thank you everybody for being here, and I will see you all again next week. Bye everybody.

Thank you for joining me for this week's episode of Point Me to First Class. If you want more tips on turning your expenses into travel, visit pointmetofirstclass.com to learn more. See you next week.

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