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Practical tips for Walt Disney World travel
|How to Write a Trip Report|
In this session, I discuss the fine art of writing a Walt Disney World trip report, and show you how easy it can be to record your vacation experience. I will cover the tricks of the trade on how to prepare for, and write a trip report you can be proud to share with others.
Why a Trip Report?
Think of all the travel books and Web sites about Walt Disney World. You can basically think of them as elaborate trip reports that have been formalized and organized into very helpful vacation guides.
A major part of MousePlanet, in fact, is the Disney Trip Report Archive, that many of our readers enjoy each and every day! The archive contains hundreds of complete, organized trip reports covering reader's vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and other Disney resorts destinations around the world.
So let's face it...trip reports have their value. Benefits from writing a Walt Disney World trip report include:
The benefits to others by your writing a Walt Disney World trip report are also many, and include:
Tools of the Trade
You must make preparations for writing your trip report even before you start your trip. Bring along several writing instruments to bring along, since it won't hurt to have an extra pen or pencil.
I find that carrying a very small notebook in my fanny pack works well. These small pads serve trip writers well because they are small enough that you don't mind carrying them, yet they give you enough writing space to jot down notes or write a few paragraphs. Take two pads.
If you prefer not to carry a small notebook, you could keep a large notebook in your room, and record your adventures at the end of the day. This requires you to be more disciplined in recording your activities. Also, you want to jot down notes as soon as you can, otherwise you may forget to do this later on.
Some people are more comfortable recording their memories on a laptop, and then adding to and refining their report later on. Laptop or notebook, it doesn't matter as long as it suits your needs.
If you like electronics but prefer not to lug a laptop on your trip, you might also consider using a Palm Pilot or similar handheld device to jot down your notes during the day. You can even purchase a portable keyboard that attaches to the device, letting you flesh out your abbreviated notes at the end of the evening.
Of course you could even go as far as taking along a tape recorder to record your experience, and transcribe your words into a trip report upon your return home.
Use whatever is best for you.
What Should I Write?
There is really no strong guideline as to what you should put in your trip report. Write what is important to you. Always include whatever you think may be both interesting and informative for your audience to know about your trip, as well as things you feel are important to remember.
Some people like to record just the highlights of their trip, while others like to put every detail of their experience in their report. Whichever you prefer, choose your words wisely and be sure to please your number-one reader: you.
One way to decide what to record is to use the trip reports you read as guidelines. What helped you? What excited you, made you laugh, cry, or think about your own trip?
During your vacation you may find it hard to write long passages that describe your experiences. Instead, jot down some keywords or phrases that you can expand on later when you write your final draft.
For instance, while taking a photo of your 3-year-old daughter with Mickey, you notice her dancing with him. Just jot down, "Sarah's dance with Mickey." Later on you can flesh out the whole event.
It is important that you not only capture keywords that you will recognize later, but that you do so at the time it happens. Whenever possible, try to expand these keywords or phrases to help you write your final draft.
Think of yourself as a reporter. Good reporters do not rely on their memory and neither should you. Jotting down notes will help trigger your memory later on.
If you rely solely on your memory to write your trip report when you return home, I can guarantee that you will have some oversights.
When Do I Write My Report?
A lot of people ask me about when I write my trip reports. They probably wonder if I stay up late every night when I get back to my room. Well that's not the case. The trick is to find short snippets of time during your vacation to jot down your notes or even expand them.
Regardless of how early you get to the parks or how often you use a Fastpass, you are bound to find yourself waiting in an attraction queue once in a while. What a great time to look over your notes and add a few things to help describe that moment with Sarah and Mickey or something else.
Another time to write or expand upon your notes is at sit-down restaurants. You are seated and comfortable. Feel free to jot down a few notes while waiting for your meal, or while waiting for the rest of your party to finish theirs.
Are you waiting for a parade to start? Why not use this time to sharpen up those notes you jotted down earlier in the day?
Make the most of those idle periods on your vacation and touch up your notes. It will become a very worthwhile habit.
On a little personal note here, cast members seem to be amazed at people who take notes on their trip to Walt Disney World. Many have struck up conversations with me when noticing my scribbling things down. This sometimes leads into very informative discussions, which of course adds to the report.
Start immediately on finishing up your report as soon as you return from your vacation. Do not wait even a week to go by.
By working on your final report as soon as possible, your memory will still be fresh so you can include details you may have not jotted down in your notes. It is also a great way to virtually extend your vacation.
The longer you wait to finish your report, the more you forget, and the more likely you will never write it. You will regret this because weeks later you will be really frustrated trying to remember something about your trip that you probably would have remembered a day or two upon your return home.
Finally, share your report with friends, relatives, and the Internet. MousePlanet always welcomes trip reports. Yours could very well help others plan their next or first trip to Walt Disney World.
Next session: A little retrospective on our journey as I discuss the "Ten Commandments of Walt Disney World Trip Planning."
Photos on this page by Brian Bennett unless otherwise noted
Here are some pages, from MousePlanet's Disney Trip Report Archive, that gives some more information on writing a trip report: Introduction Forward - an Introduction to My Own Addiction | Why Should I Read About Other People's Trips? | Why do People Write Reports About Their Vacations? | How Can I Best Utilize This Trip Report Library? | Writing and Posting Instructions | Trip Report Format and Protocol | Writing the Text | Style and Content Suggestions | Posting to a Newsgroup | Posting to this (or another) Web Site
Here's a list of the trip reports that Mike has written that are part of MousePlanet's archives!
Also, don't miss Lani Teshima's column, "The Trip Planner" for more travel planning information!
Trip reports are a great way to capture the fun and excitement of a great vacation. Another way is to create scrapbooks of that trip.
MouseMemories.com is a great source for vacation-themed scrapbooking products that you may enjoy using on your own pages. Check out this MousePlanet page for more information on the scrapbooking hobby... and run over to the online MouseMemories.com store to shop!
The first Disney trip report that I ever read was a report by Mike Scopa that I downloaded from the America Online travel library in late 1994. The report was a detailed description of the Scopa family's trip to WDW in the summer of that year.
As soon as I was done reading it, I was hooked.
I picked my own brain and documented my own trips and the things I'd learned from my own experiences. Then, in 1995 I actually wrote a report as the trip unfolded. I took a laptop with me and spent some time in the evenings documenting what had happened that day. (I've repeated that process for my own reports ever since.)
In July 1996, I started my Disney trip planning Web site. Besides including my own reports, I asked for permission from the authors of several other reports and added them to the offering. Since then, the number of reports has expanded greatly. In 1997, I added an information summary for each report to make it easier to sort through the reports that are available.
I still 'blame' Mike for hooking me on this Disney habit.
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