Detailed Itinerary..A US thing?

Jul 25th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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alanRow: What's a Saffer? I understand Kiwis, Canucks, and Ozzies, but not Saffers.

My travel partner/best friend/sister is a wonderful planner, but left to my own devices, I find a place for the first and last night and then wing it the rest of the time. I suspect that I miss out on many sights, but I do get miles and miles of walks done.

When my sister plans, she lists all the sights and restaurants we might want to visit, but we don't usually stick to the list very well. However, our list of destinations and hotels is fixed in cement.

Pegontheroad is offline  
Jul 25th, 2007, 10:50 AM
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I think it's just that the people who post here are planners. I work in Compliance so - yeah, there's got to be a plan! I don't like to get to a place and then start wondering what to do. I also don't want to waste time looking through the guide books all day while we're away. So I try to get a plan for all of the things that would interest me. It doesn't mean that if there's a rainstorm when I "planned" to hike that I'll short circuit and not be able to recover - lol. I don't walk around with this itinerary and keep timing our activities. For instance - I will post my planned itinerary for Utah soon and I will list when I plan to do certain hikes. People might suggest moving them around because of better light or cooler weather and if I didn't have an itinerary I wouldn't be able to get that kind of help. I have a couple of cousins who stick to a timetable and I agree that is no way to travel.
Dohlice is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 02:48 AM
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>alanRow: What's a Saffer? I understand Kiwis, Canucks, and Ozzies, but not Saffers.<

If I guess correctly Saffer = South African
wellididntknowthat is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 02:15 PM
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You know I first learnt people do such detail planning only a year or so ago after receiving one from a close friend who is as organized and analytical as one can get. I tried it for a long trip, and it really worked. I do put in too much stuff but you can always choose not to do things. I have to say I enjoyed the trip far more than ever before since I more or less knew what I will be seeing.

Lately, I do it (to some extent) for business trips too. If I have an opportunity to see something cool in the evening or have a dinner at a really nice restaurant, why not?
Jul 26th, 2007, 02:26 PM
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I take back what I said about Canadians - I've just read an itinerary where the OP does 4 countries in 20 days
alanRow is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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I am a semi-detailed interary builder. I research like crazy and make lists. I make a few reservations where needed, but mostly we pick things off the list when we get there based on the weather and what we feel like doing. And if something else entirely looks good, we do that.

What I have noticed with some Europeans coming to the US is not a detailed itinerary, but rather a tendency to try to see to many places that are far a part in a short amount of time. Esspecially in the west, things can be really far apart and I think people underestimate the time it takes to get places.
J_Correa is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 04:36 PM
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I think trip-planning is built into my DNA!

But I've noticed there are two kinds of "itinerary planners". WIDKT originally referred to those who have detailed plans for every hour of each day. (I suspect many are first timers to Europe who abandon the "plan" the first day.)

The other type researches like crazy, determines which cities to allocate how many days to, then books flights/hotels well in advance. In making those decisions, they've developed a fair idea of what they want to see in each location. But there's no rigid hourly plan. I fall into this category. My research madness has more to do with learning. (E.g., the next time we find ourselves in the 5th ere of Paris, I've heard about a little store I want to visit.)

I must admit there is one downside to all the planning: it does tend to diminish the spontaneity.
JeanneB is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 05:49 PM
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My very unscientific guess as to why so many Americans seek detailed itineraries is because our time off work is very precious to us. Most people work 50 weeks a year and getting even 2 weeks off together is not easily accomplished. Your boss (in many, not all cases)can actually not approve of that much time off all at one time.
At my last job, I was fortunate enough to take a 3-4 week overseas vacation every 1-1.5 years. This company had over 3000 employees and I was the only one I knew who did this. I had to take some of the time off without pay. Most of my co-workers couldn't fathom being able to afford time off without pay.
In the US there is no law requiring an employer to give everyone 5 weeks vacation like in France, it is strictly up to the employer though some people have a union that guarantees some of your employee benefits.
In short, many feel like they have to maximize their time because getting back could take years...
Parrothead is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 05:59 PM
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I agree that a lot of the itineraries sound like the Bataan death march. But, I think many americans feel they may only get to europe once or twice - and so really try to pack in as much as possible.

If you're just across the channel - or just in the next country - and have much more vacation time to boot - you can afford to be much casuale about the whole planning thing.

Although, I must admit - we don't - and I have never - done that kind of planning - which on what day and what time to have lunch where. We reerve hotels - and car if it's a road trip - and anything else only if it must be resreved beforehand (which is really practically nothing - if you're willing to spend a little more to have flexibility.)

We have reserved a vatican scavi tour in advance, and also ceremony of the keys at the Tower of London - but nothing else I can think of.

Other than that we have a list of what we might like to see - and a note on what days things are closed - that's it. And, on the road, we sometimes head off in completely differnt directions, or find that a town we though we would love is only worth lunch - but a church we chance upon is worth a couple of hours.

So - to me, most of this planning is too much. Even with really hot restaurants - a decent concierge can usually get you in on the night you want.

nytraveler is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 06:09 PM
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Let me add one other possibility. The people who post here usually don't fit the "Ugly American" stigma. I know, in my case, part of my motivation is to avoid appearing like the stereotypical American: no effort to learn language, "culinarily challenged", white tennis shoes, and thinks seeing the Eiffel Tower means one has seen Paris.

You know what I mean. Research is my way of avoiding embarrassing incidents (well, I TRY to avoid them!). I travel far more confidently than I would if I had no clue about local customs/cultures.
JeanneB is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 07:26 PM
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I have to once again quote my favorite movie: Summertime, directed by David Lean and starring K Hepburn and Rosanno Brazzi - and Venice. The script by Arthur Laurents is terrific.

Hepburn meets a retired American couple (touring the continent with a group) on the Vaporetto enroute to her Pensione. Mr. McIlhenny reads from the tour group's busy itinerary: "9:00 o'clock, Doge's palace. 10:00 o'clock, Bridge of Sighs. 11:00, I.A."

"I.A.?" Hepburn asks.

"Independant Activity," McIlhenny replies. "We get one hour of it every day!"
tomassocroccante is offline  
Jul 26th, 2007, 10:16 PM
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For those of us who live so far away that Europe may be a once-in-a-lifetime event, planning is essential to ensure none of that 'rare' time (and money) is wasted.

I'm one of the madder ones (because I'm passionate about travel) who has done it more than once in a lifetime, but still I plan in detail, knowing full well that my plan is only a framework and will be varied and departed from many times throughout a trip. But the plan means that my decisions to depart from it are 'informed' decisions vis-a-vis what might I be giving up, and at what point can I best return to my itinerary (if at all).

Despite the planning, I fall into the category of those who 'wing it'. My plan is of movements only, and I do depart from it more than I follow it. And I've almost never ever pre-booked a room (let alone a restaurant!) in my life. On the rare occasions when I did pre-book a room it was only a day ahead when I was due to arrive somewhere at, say, 1 in the morning (e.g. on a ferry from Ireland to Wales).

In answer to those who ask why would you spend all that money to wing it, my answer is to ask why would you spend all that money to shackle yourself to a pre-booked itinerary thus taking all the fun and adventure (and, yes, risk) out of it? But I guess that's to do with where you're from and how hard (or costly) it is to get there. To some it is a holiday or vacation; to others it is a rare pioneering adventure.
twoflower is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 03:29 AM
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tomassocroccante, Small error I think. McIlhenny replied they get two hours of it every day My favorite movie too.
Jul 27th, 2007, 03:37 AM
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Okay, my wife corrected me. Apparently you are right.
Jul 27th, 2007, 03:51 AM
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Some really interesting responses. I didn't realise quite how limited vacation time was for many in the US. In the UK there's a 4 week statutory minimum. I'm fortunate enough to have 27 days plus 8 public holidays.

Again you're probably right that we in Europe are a bit blase about ease and low cost of travel between EU states. Two and half hours on a plane can get you anywhere from Helsinki to Rome.
wellididntknowthat is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 04:24 AM
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I am curious as to whether the Europeans here "wing it" when visting, say, China or the Americas??
bardo1 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 04:40 AM
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I would think that most people do something in between. It's not a choice between detailed itinerary and completely winging it - just jumping on a plane and seeing what you can find the other end. there is such a thing as a middle ground.

I book accomodation in advance. I look at guide-books. I work out a few 'must-sees' and 'must-do'. I check out if they are restricted times/availability and might think 'oh so I'll do that on Wednesday or Thursday'. After that, I see what feel like when I'm there, using my guide books, random wandering, being influenced by the weather/how tired or energetic I feel, etc etc.

The thought of having a detailed 'on day 1 go to X, walk past Y, eat in cafe B, visit Z museum, eat at restaurant D, go to M and then back to the hotel itinerary is just ghastly to me.
that doesn't mean I don't think about my holiday or get good deals in advance or miss out on stuff.
nona1 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 04:51 AM
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No, Comfy, I'm afraid your wife and I are in error. (I've popped in the DVD to check) Though I'm famous with at least one person for re=enacting - or at least reciting - scenes from Summertime, I made another error as well: the McIlhennys are not with a group of any kind, of course:

"Our travel agency did a cracker jack job! Planned every step of the way! Here, look at this, here's today's itinerary:
Eight AM, breakfast.
Nine, Doge's Palace, Bridge of Sighs.
Ten, San Marco Cathedral.
Ten-thirty to twelve-thirty, I.A."

"I.A.? What's that?"

"Independent Activity. We're allowed two hours of it every day."

For those who don't know Summertime, writing in the 1950s this romance includes snapshots of the postwar travel surge in Europe. The McIlhennys' trip begins when they dock at Southampton June 15 and includes Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland, then Venice, Florence ("Firenze!" Mrs. McIlhenny says, "That's the name the Italians have given it!"), Rome, Naples, Capri, Spain and Portugal.

They leave September 9, about 12 weeks after arriving, but Jane (Hepburn) still seems to think they are cramming a lot into a short time. But although 12 countries in 12 weeks would be exhausting - and still leave some confusion in the end - it seems like a luxurious slow pace compared to many trips. My parents did the whirlwind with Globus Tours 20 years ago. They piggybacked a week in England/Ireland with 10 days doing Paris, Munich, Vienna, Rome and I don't know what else. My mother, a star note-taker, kept a running list in her journal of photos that were taken, which was invaluable when the 10 rolls of film were returned as witness to a couple of weeks lived in the bus lane ...
tomassocroccante is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 06:51 AM
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I am an American who does not use an itinerary of any kind, well past knowing what cities I will be in what days... I do have that much arranged.
suze is offline  
Jul 27th, 2007, 07:13 AM
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Kerouac - I feel exactly the same way. Often I don't even have a hotel reservation for the first night, sometimes I do. It works both ways. There are some times though when I want to stay at a particular hotel e.g. du Danube, and then I do make a reservation. When I was active duty I traveled a lot on military flights on a space available basis. At those times, I didn't even know where I was going until I was called. I have seen some great places that way.
basingstoke2 is offline  

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