How I used Design Thinking in planning our family trip

We used the Design Thinking Process in our everyday life. Like planning a family trip. Join us as we follow the Empathy-Define-Ideate-Prototype-Test processPlanning things becomes much harder when more people are involved. My family encountered a problem like that when we were planning our trip to London at the end of the year. For anyone who has read about what there is to do in London, you’ll know how hard it is to fit all those activities into a seven-day trip. This is how we applied Design Thinking into our planning process.

The Start

We all did our research on what we wanted to do in our one-week stay, and got them ready for our “planning party.” Upon looking at what everyone had, though, we realized that everyone sort of had their own idea of what the trip would look like. Since I was exposed to Design Thinking everyday at the office for a good month or so, I decided to step up and sneakily slip the idea into our meeting.


We began with the empathy step; listing everything each person wanted to do or see, and wrote it down (in a very On-Off manner) on our dining room mirror. This allowed us to consolidate our research and identify common plans. We then tried to create an itinerary that would satisfy everyone’s wants. No surprise that it didn’t work.


That’s when we decided that this was a problem. We needed to make the trip as enjoyable for each of us as possible, all while fitting it into our budget and timeframe. To do that, everyone was given a chance to talk a little about what he or she had researched so that everyone would have a clear idea of each activity.


Based on what each person shared, we tried to think of ways to satisfy everyone. First was to add more days. This wasn’t feasible because most of us had to be back and couldn’t afford to miss another day or two of school and work. We also thought of removing a lot of the activities, which was contra our goal, so we scratched that idea. Finally, we ended up prioritizing our activities per person, and splitting the group up in order to do what each individual wanted to do.


We tried to create as many different itineraries as we could, which had everybody’s priorities in it. We flipped activities around, changed time slots, and extended our daily touring time by starting earlier and ending later. We did everything we could to fit it all into the schedule, and successfully found an itinerary that everyone was happy with.


We tested it by narrating how our trip was going to go. As we went along, we realized that our plan was beginning to make less sense. We forgot to put travel time, and account for the location of each activity. After we finished the seven-day plan, we decided that we needed to reorganize.

We planned it out in greater detail, and tried our best to adjust everything, even to the point of asking our tour guides if we could reorder the stops, just so we could start and end in specific areas.

And then we narrated our new itinerary. And again. And again, until, at the end of the night, we found the perfect one.

After our planning party, I came to realize that Design Thinking is a powerful tool that can help in so many situations, and not just in business. It’s something that everybody can learn and apply in their lives.

In Design Thinking, it’s important to put into account what the user, or in this case, my family members, are having trouble with. We had to ask every one of ourselves what we were willing to forgo, what would make us excited, what we needed to see, etc. It was really about making sure that everyone went home looking forward to the trip, rather than being disappointed at the decision of the majority.

It also proved effective to do multiple iterations of the planning process. It helped us iron out our plans and decide what we really wanted to do in order to see all that we wanted to see. And this is something about Design Thinking that I think makes it very effective.

If you want to learn how Design Thinking really works, On-Off Group is hosting a Design Thinking workshop on June 22, which would really help you grasp the idea and how it works. You’ll be surprised with what you can do with it.

Marco Manuel