I am a planner & Husband is not

Mar 28th, 2002, 10:33 AM
  #1  
Shannon
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I am a planner & Husband is not

We are going to Italy for 2 weeks the first of May -- Lake Como, Venice, & Tuscany area.
My husband & I are in disagreement about whether to book hotels or not. I have never been to Italy and he has (4 yrs ago)...so should we wing it or not?
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 10:34 AM
  #2  
Rex
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Previously posted, by me:

My very biased opinion - -

having no reservations causes you to:

use up time looking for a place

lose the opportunity to research a lot of neat place in the time leading up to your trip and choose the one that best suits your personality

have a higher chance that the person at the desk when you arrive is far from the best available english speaker - - if that's important to you.

fail to find that much nicer/cheaper/prettier place that is just around the next bend, but you didn't know about it.

having reservations causes you to - -

sometimes keep on driving to reach your destination even though you are tired or hungry.

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 10:37 AM
  #3  
Travis
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Plus that is getting to the busy season, it could be more difficult to find one, which will take more of your vacation to look for hotels. I would book...have a great time, it's awesome!
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 10:40 AM
  #4  
Nutella
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I agree that you should have reservations in May. I have done it both ways, and there was a lot of stress involved, especially in Venice. In addition to Rex's reasons, I will add that if you have reservations, you have the flexibility of arriving in your next town later in the afternoon, if you are hunting for a room, you need to get there earlier. Also, some tourist offices will call around for you but others don't. If they don't, you will be walking, and lugging your bags, from place to place. May is busy enough to warrant advance reservations.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 10:42 AM
  #5  
elvira
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In big cities, you can always find a place to stay...but it might not be in the top 36 choices. In small towns, you may find there is no place to stay, and you have to take a train or drive to another town. As Rex and Travis have pointed out, this takes up valuable time AND is not what you want to do when you're tired. You may also have to pay more for a room than you anticipated.

Make reservations; find out the cancellation policy so that you CAN cancel if your itinerary changes.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 10:44 AM
  #6  
Tess
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I also sit on the side of planning & making reservations. Call me anal retentive --- unless you're a twenty-something with a backpack & Eurailpass, I don't get the attraction of winging it. Rex and Travis have outlined all the "pro-booking" reasons. Italy is INCREDIBLY popular as a destination.

You could mediate a compromise --- book your first night, time in Venice (a MUST IMHO) & last night's stay.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 11:11 AM
  #7  
David
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For me the biggest reason to plan is cost. In Spring of '99 my plans changed last minute as friends were returning home from Germany unexpectedly early. I went anyway and toured Southern Germany finding hotels as I went. The next Spring I went to Germany again and had hotels pre-booked. Both trips I hit about the same number of nights in big cities vs. smaller towns,

The second trip I spent about 30% less on hotels than the year before. Quite a savings considering lodging is a big component of vacation cost. I used the left over money to put towards my next European vacation.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 11:19 AM
  #8  
Therese
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Plan. Less anxiety for everybody.

Planning won't ruin his vacation, but not planning might just put a dent in yours. As long as you're willing to do the advance work (because he might resent it if you insist on making him share the responsibility) he'll go along for the ride. And you'll have the fun of anticipating the experience.

 
Mar 28th, 2002, 01:36 PM
  #9  
Dallas, Texas
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OK, I know asking what something means brings out the beast in some, but I'm dying to know, what does "IMHO" mean?
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 01:37 PM
  #10  
Tom
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In
My
Humble
Opinion
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 02:18 PM
  #11  
Capo
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Tess, as with many things in life there are trade-offs with decisions. The attraction of winging it -- to me, anyway -- is flexibility. One is not "locked in" to spending two nights in, say, Siena, if one finds another wonderful town with accomodations and would prefer to stay there instead.

The benefit is flexibility (and, also, the fact that one can physically check out a hotel/room before booking it), and the potential drawback is that one may not find any rooms available in one's preferred price range.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 02:25 PM
  #12  
John
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Half the fun of going--well, some of the fun at least--is doing the "retentive research thing" and picking places to stay. Another part is not arriving to a place late in the day only to find the only available accommodations are either way expensive or seedy. I'd reserve now and thank my lucky stars later that I did.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 02:33 PM
  #13  
Grasshopper
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Thank you, Capo, for pointing out the biggest reason for being flexible. If you love a place and want to stay longer, or hate a place and want to leave, you may be stuck when you have everything prebooked.

I can pretty much guarantee that every room in Como, Venice and Tuscany are not booked next May. You might book a couple rooms that you're sure you want to get and leave room for the rest. And bring addresses and phone numbers with you so you can call ahead a couple of days.

Keep in mind, this is a board full of planners. They will often encourage you to have every moment accounted for. If that's your preference go for it but if you want to be spontaneous it won't be a problem.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 02:42 PM
  #14  
Capo
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You're welcome, Grasshopper. I don't think flexibility is imporant to some (perhaps many?) people; hence it's understandable why they would never even consider winging it.

And I may be wrong here, but it seems to me that the downside of not making reservations in a city -- even a VERY popular city like Venice -- is only that one may not find any rooms available in one's preferred price range and/or location, not that one will find no rooms available at all. Sure, you may break your budget for a night or two (or, conversely, end up staying in a place that doesn't meet your standards) but those aren't the same as having no place whatsoever to stay overnight.

But now I'm curious. Has anyone ever arrived in a city without reservations and been unable to find *any* place to stay, even at a higher (or lower) price than you'd prefer, or even in a location you would not prefer? Maybe this happens more often than I think.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 03:15 PM
  #15  
Dallas, Texas
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Thanks, Tom.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 04:09 PM
  #16  
Christina
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I wouldn't ever go to Europe any more without hotel reservations as I tried it once and didn't like it at all. To answer Capo -- yes, I have actually been unable to get any room in Paris when I was there without reservations in a peak time (September). I didn't know that at that time, that Paris was so booked up in Sept. After 4-5 hours of phone calls at Gare du Nord, I managed to secure a more expensive room than my budget allowed FOR ONE NIGHT ONLY! I was exhausted and took it. No way in the world was I going to spend the next day doing more of that, so I left and went to Belgium the next day.

What I find interesting in this talk of how wonderful it is to be spontaneous and flexible are these points which I'd wonder how Capo (or someone else) would speak to: exactly how do you check out hotel rooms upon arrival in a city like Paris. I just don't understand the scenario -- you arrive at CDG and then do what? Traipse around town dragging your baggage block after block or what? I am serious, I don't understand what you'd do. Second, in hotels where you forfeit deposits if you don't cancel some time in advance and which you can't get into because they are so busy or popular without booking months ahead, how exactly do you decide day-to-day as to whether you want to stay in the room or not? All the hotels I stay in want to know exact dates of my stay. Also, Capo, I thought you have expressed opinions that fancy hotel rooms aren't that important, just a place to sleep, that you'd easily stay in a one-star room without even private bath? So how come now you are talking about being so picky that you want to personally check out hotel rooms before deciding if you'll stay there? Now, I am not being critical or mean in my questioning, if it comes across that way in type, I really am curious about these issues that seem very contradictory and also the logistics.

I think IMHO can also mean In My HONEST Opinion if you aren't humble, and no one knows what you mean, that's the good thing
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 04:36 PM
  #17  
Faina
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Had anybody seen "Bread and Tulips", italian movie? There was a private detective who went to Venice without making lodging reservation. Shannon, rent this movie for your husband, he'll change his opinion!
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 05:48 PM
  #18  
Capo
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Christina, being able to check out a hotel/room in person is a secondary benefit, to me, of winging it (which is precisely why I put it in parentheses.) The primary benefit is flexibility.

You have a very good memory; yes, fancy (read: expensive) hotel rooms are not important to me and yes, I'd easily stay in a one-star room without a private bath (and have done so numerous times.) However, I don't know why you see that as inconsistent, or mutually exclusive, with wanting to check out a place in person. I've seen one star rooms with shared baths that I liked, and ones that I didn't like.

You asked: exactly how do you check out hotel rooms upon arrival in a city like Paris? I'll tell you.

In 1987, on my first trip to Paris with my girlfriend and a couple who we were friends with, we arrived in Paris in late August without any reservations. After calling around (my friend spoke good French) we found a hotel room for a reasonable price near Gare du Nord. The next morning, using a reader's recommendation in our Frommer's guide, we found a room at the pre-renovation Hotel Castex. That was quite easy.

I flew to Paris in October of 1998 and had made reservations. However, there was a budget hotel in the 6th I'd noted on a previous trip as well as another in the 6th I'd read about that didn't take reservations. Once I got to the St.Michel metro stop, I went to the first hotel, looked at it, and didn't really care for it, so I headed to the second, "no reservations" hotel, and got a room for three nights. Two stops, one room. That was also quite easy.

When my girlfriend & I arrived in Nice in May of 1994, we had no hotel reservations. Using Rick Steves' guide, we checked out only about three hotels before settling on the one that has become my "home away from home" since then. That was also quite easy; took us probably all of one hour of looking.

When my girlfriend & I went to Sorrento last year, it was Palm Sunday weekend, and we had made no reservations. We arrived in Sorrento around noon, went directly to the tourist office, and they found a room for us (the last one) in a wonderful old hotel right in the heart of the old town. That was also quite easy and took hardly any extra time whatsoever.

Perhaps I've been exceptionally lucky, but perhaps not.

I'm puzzled by your response. You said that you couldn't find any room in Paris that September but then went on to note that after 4-5 hours you did manage to find a more expensive room than your budget allowed for only one night (and you may have been able to do the same for a few more nights but, as you noted, you left for Belgium the next day.) Anyway, that's kind of my point (or question); it seems to me that if one does not have reservations one is still likely to find a room of some kind, just probably not at the price and/or in the location one would prefer.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 05:50 PM
  #19  
Capo
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Ooops! That should be: I flew to Paris in October of 1998 and had *not* made reservations.
 
Mar 28th, 2002, 07:18 PM
  #20  
Therese
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Yes, winging it does offer spontaneity, and that's great if both members of the party are willing to deal with some uncertainty.

My first trip to Europe with my husband (well, he wasn't my husband yet, but never mind that) was a month of travelling in Germany, France, and Denmark. We attended a scientific meeting, spent some time with friends (including some nights lodging with them), and just went wherever we felt like going. We liked the freedom of just staying someplace that looked interesting. We'd spot a hotel that looked reasonable and ask to see the room if one was available, and that worked out fine. Speaking French well helped lots.

But we were definitely hitting less travelled areas (most of which barely show up on the radar of this forum), and we did manage to hit a couple of duds (Trouville, where the owner of the hotel was a total shrew, and Paris, where we drove into town, parked in the first available free spot, and walked into the closest hotel---not that bad a place, actually, considering that it ran $18/night). We also found some absolutely great places, of course.

If the trip in question were in a more remote area of Italy (like maybe Le Marche) I'd say fine. Venice is bad enough without hassling with a room.

Maybe you could target a couple of towns in Tuscany and get an idea of availability at a few places---if it seems okay you could go ahead and wing it.
 

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