I was thinking about my last few travel posts and the level of detail I put into them, especially when it comes to describing the itinerary – places to stay, where to eat and what to see. (Especially especially this recent guide on Barcelona – whew!), I realized I plan A BOATLOAD.
Fact or Fiction? Failure to Plan is Planning to Fail
I’ve known I was a type A person even before I knew what psychology was. I have a special place in my heart for color-coordinated closets, impeccable home goods displays and organizing things into categories (hello, Pinterest, you are my spirit animal). I also have a tendency to research, plan and itinerarize (I’m making that a word) the bejeezus out of every trip we take.
So, as I was regarding our last big trip (affectionately known by us as the Eurotrip Honeymoon) I realized I sometimes struggle with creating a balance and tend to overload the itinerary. For our trip, I had Yelped and TripAdvisor-ed every last hotel, nightclub and tapas bar. To be fair, we were taking on a pretty aggressive itinerary (Florence for 2 days, a short Mediterranean cruise and a number of days in Barcelona – ya, we were all about that “go big or go home” lyfe) but looking back on things we probably could’ve flown by the seat of our pants a little more AND it probably would’ve saved us a few hanger-fueled disagreements.
Working on the Balance
What they say about opposites attracting is true: my husband is somewhat the opposite of me – at least when it comes to things like travel. He would rather experience everything on the fly. Which is totally fine – it’s just not quite how I roll. But we have begun to come to the agreement that our trips would be much more enjoyable if we were able to strike some sort of balance between my DO ALL THE THINGS mentality and his craving for lounging and relaxing.
This need for a balanced itinerary came on strong as we were trying to plan a trip over this last Thanksgiving holiday to take advantage of the extra built-in vacation time. We were considering going to Ireland because we would be able to extend our stay for a while, given the holiday.
Every time we tried to talk about it, though, we would both get frustrated. Finally, we discovered that no, one cannot necessarily do one Euro-marathon after another without getting travel fatigue. So, we opted for a relaxing beach vacation in Aruba instead (check out that travel guide here). That was just the beginning of the road to travel compromise.
3 Things to Remember When it Comes to Creating a Balanced Travel Itinerary
I’ve come to realize that there are 3 important things to remember when it comes to successful travel – regardless of if you are a Type A Traveler (again, making this a thing – you’re welcome) or a more relaxed go-with-the-flow type person.
DO plan the places to stay.
You do NOT want to be stressed over this – the last thing on your mind when you get to a new destination should be where you’ll call basecamp. I find word of mouth recommendations are really great for this!
Pick at least one must-try restaurant, nightlife spot and thing to see for every 2-3 days in a certain destination; then let the rest figure itself out.
If you’ve got a travel target in mind, chances are you want to go there for a particular reason. I try to pick out one sure-fire spot for each of these 3 categories for every couple of days – the Plantastic Travel Ratio. That way you have a few fallbacks for when you don’t feel like doing research, but if a local mentions a must-try restaurant, you’ll have the room in your schedule. Those are often the best hidden gems anyway!
Do make time to unplug and enjoy your travels.
Since I have been blogging about travel for a few months now, I often feel the overwhelming need to catalog my every bite and step. Thoughts such as “What if I want to use this for an Instagram post?” or “ Oh, crap, I got a great picture but I forgot to snap a vertical shot to use on Pinterest!” are constantly bombarding me. I always try to make at least one day completely (or almost completely) tech-free. That way you can enjoy! And if you didn’t get to one of the spots on your list? Don’t worry – now you have a reason to go back! Why take a vacation if you can’t enjoy it?
Questions for you:
- Do you have any tips for not going into planning overdrive during your vacations?
- Do you have any tricks for uplugging during your trip without going crazy?
- Do you think it’s better to do a ton of research beforehand? Why or why not?