Project management practices I applied to my vacation

imageI’ve been off over the past week enjoying some much needed down time at a tropical resort. Although I was not working, I still had the opportunity to apply a few project management practices.

An ounce of risk management is worth a pound of firefighting

A number of the countries in the tropics are suffering from some pretty nasty mosquito-borne diseases including malaria and dengue fever. Researching the current travel advisories for my destination helped me reduce the likelihood of getting infected as I picked up some strong insect repellent spray which kept most if not all of the bugs away. I had contingency reserves (a.k.a. Tylenol and medical insurance), but why use a risk mitigation or transferral response when avoidance is more effective and less painful?

Learn lessons from others’ experiences

While I’ve contributed my fair share of reviews to TripAdvisor, I’ve benefited immensely from the knowledge of others on this and other travel sites. Although I went back to the same resort I had visited last year, there had been a few changes made for which I was able to get unbiased updates including the reinforcement of the importance of bringing bug spray! Most of the project lessons repositories I’ve encountered are not as easy to use as TripAdvisor, but when venturing into the unknown it is always a good idea to learn from those who have preceded you.

Use multiple methods of estimation

Budgeting for a vacation is never an exact science, and with ATM withdrawal transaction fees in foreign locations being as high as they are, I usually try to take sufficient cash to cover most incidental expenses. The question is how much should be taken? Using analogous esimation my own past actuals or those from fellow travellers, parametric estimation based on costs per day, and bottom-up estimation based on what I intended to do or spend helped come up with a fairly accurate estimate. No matter how much you trust your estimates, getting the same value with more than one method of estimation provides a higher degree of confidence.

Start with Why

The resort I stayed at has a reward points program – the more activities you participate in, the more points you earn which can be exchanged at the end of your stay for craft, food or other items. I had my mind set on getting a particular item which required a large number of points. While my son and I could likely have still got the item based on our own participation, by sharing the desired outcome with fellow tourists at the resort, they cheered us on and in some cases, gave us their reward points to help us procure the item a lot sooner.

That I was able to apply such practices to my trip should not be a surprise – after all, a vacation meets the standard criteria for identifying a project: a unique, temporary (way too short!) endeavor which consumes resources (too many!) and creates value (rest, relaxation & good memories).

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