When you realize you’re actually making time to get away from real life to take a vacation, it’s a surge of joy and “OMG I get to plan something for fun”  electric jolt of Wheeee! You discover the world is round again and doesn’t necessarily end at the dry cleaners. So you settle into dreaming of paradise while clicking through inbox travel emails …  when the details begin to bombard you like an over-eager toddler.

Just starting out with the airline tickets, the Web search floods in a myriad of bargain travel sites. There are almost too many to choose from; that in itself leads to analysis paralysis: do I start with the coupons from Southwest? From Virgin America? From TravelZoo or Yahoo Travel? Travelocity? Too many, and everyone has their favorite. And why do I find Captain Kirk branding so strangely enticing? Dammit, Priceline!

Oddly enough, I often find (after hours of poring over travel sites and intermittent FB ADD moments), that going straight to the airlines is my best bet. Sorry, Captain! (*Feel free to give me feedback on your favorite travel site, please. I’m always checking …)

And as exhausting as this three-hour tour was, it occured to me that flights are only the beginning. Next up on my agenda: rental cars vs. trains vs. squeezing into an old Chevy with in-laws.

At this point, things seemed more cloudy and overwhelming, than calming and exciting. Where is my beach; can I not simply beam there? I wasn’t sure which was going to be longer – my trip or the adventure of planning it. Not to mention, the closest thing to tropical scheduled on our mid-western voyage was high humidity in Kalamazoo.