We asked one of our trip designers, Rebecca Falls, to tell us about her creative process in designing a new trip. She takes it one better and told us how she designed our new Santa Barbara long weekend trip for this year. In the cold temps of Wisconsin, this sounds like quite the escape.

Rebecca, trip designing in Santa BarbaraIt’s a February morning.  I’m laying on a broad expanse of warm tile under the bright California sun, waiting for a train.  And I can’t keep the smile off my face.

This time of year I would normally be in Asheville, North Carolina, where I live and work from home as a trip design coordinator.  The weather in Asheville in February…let’s just say there’s not much sun-basking going on.  But on this beautiful morning I am outside the Santa Barbara Train Station with my friend Tim, preparing to test a day of the Santa Barbara Long Weekend bike trip I am designing.

What goes into designing a new trip?  I’m sure there are as many approaches as there are people who do it, like any creative process, but I start with a simple question: How would I like to spend my day?  Given a short period of time in an amazing place I may only visit once (there are many places to see, after all!)…how would I BEST spend my day.

The train pulls up and Tim and I grab our bikes and climb aboard.  Soon we are heading west, along the Gaviota Coast. The views are incredible as miles of unspoiled coastline slip past and seabirds sail over small waves.  With the Pacific out the window to our right and coastal mountains and ranches to the left, we can’t decide where to look.  So we do our best to take it all in and before we know it the train has rounded Point Conception and we are headed north toward our stop: Surf Beach.

From here we ride our bikes inland, enjoying a terrific tailwind!  Ahh, glorious and the miles zip past.  Once we reach Lompoc and the western end of Santa Rosa Road (home to the Santa Rita Hills Wine Appellation), I am on familiar ground, having guided trips in this area before.  On the new trip, guests will continue riding to a winery for a tasting and picnic, then on to the wine country towns of Solvang and Los Olivos.  But, for Tim and I, our research for the day is done and we explore Lompoc for a coffee stop before riding back to the train station into the wind that had been at our backs before. We laugh as we scream stories to one another over the gale and arrive back in Surf Beach in time for our train and a repeat of the morning’s gorgeous ride.

Back in Santa Barbara I wander over to the impressive Moreton Bay Fig Tree on the train station grounds, then start the walk back to my hotel.  The sunshine, our companion all day, is fading to pink hues in the west-southwest.  My mind is full of moments from a day well spent.  I’m putting it all together in my head…and I decide that I’m probably not the only one who would like to spend my day this way.