to plan or not to plan

Jul 23rd, 2004, 01:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 180
There i've said it and i'm not ashamed!
To me half the enjoyment is in the anticipation and I must say I am rarely disappointed.
I agree with Shellia that perhaps it is a sign of getting older(and certainly wiser). In my youth i used to dash off without any form of preparation and had some disasterous trips as a consequence ( a freezing rainsoaked holiday in Tossa De Mar in November springs to mind!). Now I like to be more cautious. However like Patrick nothing is set in stone and my plans are more a guideline of whats available than gospel. In contradition as with StCirq I like to know I've got some control over my travel 'destiny'. I'm a compulsive list maker and have been known to sit down when I got back and write out a list of what I actually wore on holiday to save excess packing next time. Is that too wierd? I have been spontaneous too and a few years ago My husband and I got on a plane to florida without any plans as to where to stay thinking that as it was march, not easter,not at any of the published US holidays, and to our mind 'out of season', visiting a place we had been to many times before, all would be plain sailing. What we didn't reckon on was that our visit coincided with the colleges spring break and florida was full to bursting with students. We had a real problem finding accomodation and ended up staying for a week with friends. This is whwre a visit to fodors would have been invaluable.
Merseyheart : Were we separated at birth? Could be possible as I was born in Southport (though ive not lived there for many a long year) and by your handle I'm guessing you hail from 'God's own acre'. Your post was uncannily like what I was thinking!
Anyway off to research York for this weekend's trip.
By for now
Countrymouse is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 04:35 AM
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In reply to your question, "can you tell if other travellers around you have planned or not?":

I've seen people lined up at the local TI trying to get a room, but for all I know they planned to use TIs to find a room. Or maybe the hotel that they booked turned out to be unacceptable for some reason and they're looking for an alternative.

As for whether people ever attempt to see museums when these are closed for the day, I suspect I would only know that if they confessed as much to me. It might be a matter of my not having been at the right places at the right time - or the wrong time, as the case may be. Even at that, their predicament might have been due to causes other than lack of planning: an inaccurate guidebook, or the whim of museum staff.

So no, I don't think I would be able to draw any conclusions about someone's degree of planning based on observation alone.

By the way, I really don't think one can overplan, except if one plans on following the plan.
Sue_xx_yy is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 05:01 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 987
How much planning I do depends on the type of holiday I am taking and whether I am travelling with the family or not. Last year I went to France with a girlfriend. I read up well beforehand and make lots of notes on things to do, places to see, tips from other travellers etc. but we only booked the first two nights in Paris a couple of days before we left and organized for car rental but that was it. It was one of the best holidays I have been on, we stopped when we found a place we wanted to explore more, spent extra days at some locations that were great, dropped some areas and just kept going when we came across a town we weren't excited about. We picked up some fantastic accommodation, the friendliest B&B's, hotels with unbeatable views and a couple of chateaus very cheap. I love the freedom of this sort of travel and do it when I can. However, on our next trip starting in December the whole family of five is going, and I'm not prepared to risk not being able to find accommodation, especially as we need two rooms everywhere. As it is also winter will also be spending a lot more time checking out that the things that we want to see really are open. I will go armed with lists and lists from all the guidebooks and suggestions from the forum. It's also a good way to get the kids involved too. Each of them has a different country to research and have to make their own notes about what to see and do. So for me, it depends on what your circumstances are each time.
shandy is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 05:02 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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We plan more for those places we have never been. If we are going to a new place, we feel the need to learn more and to schedule with more precision so we have an idea what to expect when we get there. With the old familiars, we have a hotel reservation and not a whole lot else. In September we are going to Paris (been many times) and Andalucia (never been). Almost all of my planning and reading has been on Andalucia. I love to plan trips, do itineraries and research hotels and restaurants but also love to find the unplanned adventure along the way. And long ago I realized I must have a pleasant hotel reserved. Our worst hassles on trips past have been when we had to interrupt our valuable travel time to find a decent place to stay.
mamc is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 05:39 AM
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Suze, that person reading the guidebook at breakfast would be me, because I hadn't figured out until that morning what the heck I wanted to do that day! My recent trip to San Francisco, I didn't even have time to read the guidebook until I got there (two weeks in between trips), so I carried it with me to figure out what to do next! I actually like doing that. Makes it seem exciting and up-to-the-minute.

My trips usually 'evolve organically'. I pick a place to visit (usually a month in advance), buy entirely too many guidebooks or other reading materials, surf the web, all to educate myself as to the possibilities, including history, interesting diversions, etc... and hit the ground running when I get there.

I think as long as I have a rough idea of what it is I want to see, filling in the details as I go along works for me - plus I can change any time you want. The big key is: don't be so wedded to a checklist that it obscures the whole reason you are on vacation! That is, to relax, enjoy, and learn something while you are at it.

As far as where to sleep that night - I've done both - had them lined up ahead of time, or called ahead that day as I was leaving one place, to find the next. I've had as much (or even more, quite frankly) luck doing it the latter way. If you do it on the fly you aren't locked into a place which looked good in the book but isn't so nice when you get there!
flygirl is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 05:42 AM
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correction: any time *I* want. I changed the sentence from youssss to Issss and didn't catch em all.
flygirl is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 06:24 AM
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I am an over planner--betting to be over prepared. I once took a last minute trip. Only planned air and hotel. Got there and then thought about what to do. That is definitely not the way to go. We ended up wasting a lot of time figuring out what sites to see and how to get there. I like to make a detailed itineraries based on which sites are open on which days and what times, and where they are located in regards to each other. I usually put more things on each day's agenda than is realistic. This way if one museum is unexpectedly closed, or if our plans have to be changed due to rain, we have a backup. Then I make a must see/do list and include those things that we feel are essential. This is what I find works well. In terms of hotel, though, I always book in advance. I have heard too many stories of ppl. who wanted to be "spontaneous" and end up spending all their vacation time walking the streets looking for an available room. Last minute rooms in decent (not even upscale) hotels can be hard to find last minute, even during slower seasons.
beth23 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 06:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Put me in the planning-is-half-the-fun category. I love comparing hotels and checking the latest airfares. I don't plan every restaurant but after some blah meals, have started to make a list of 'possibilities' in the area I will be around mealtimes. I am also a goal-oriented control freak - do you think we are in the majority on this board?? I am always the planner when I travel with someone (and the trip is always my idea too). I seem to have this internal clock in my head that tells me it's time to move on to the next thing. My tolerance for sitting by the pool/cafe sitting is about an hour max. Sometimes I do wish I could turn off that internal clock and relax more...but it probably wont ever happen unless I go someplace where there is nothing to do but look at the scenery.
Vicky is online now  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 07:09 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
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Vicky, I feel the same way, which is why I think I need to plan a trip to the Caribbean. This way, I can sit on the beach with a book and a drink and that can be an activity: because that's all there is to do there. Otherwise, it's go go go for me.
beth23 is offline  
Jul 23rd, 2004, 12:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Hail, Countrymouse! No, I'm an American, and I live in Portland, Oregon. But I have been to Liverpool many times, including one day trip to Southport. Alas, it was May, and very cold, and none of the seaside stuff was open. Oh, well. Not to invoke the name of *another* travel advisor, but I do believe in Europe through the back door. Merseyside is pretty much a back door. "I left my heart...."
Merseyheart is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 04:15 PM
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ttt hi countrymouse!
Merseyheart is offline  
Jul 25th, 2004, 04:40 PM
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How much planning I do depends on where we are going. Note that I said "I" do the planning! We went to London a couple of years ago, and I did lots of research on things to do. (I had not heard of this board at that time!) On the evening before or the morning of, my DH will finally open a guidebook, (yes that was him at breakfast), to agree or disagree with my plan. Ditto for Paris this past February. You were all so very helpful to this first timer, I knew things about Paris that I never would have found in the many guidebooks we took with us. For Paris in particular, I had a list of what we wanted to see in each arrondisemont, and planned our days accordingly. We walked as much as we could and probably didn't have time to see some things we had hoped to see but saw many things that were unexpected. For both of these trips, our hotel was prebooked.

However, when we go to Ireland, I usually prebook our first and last nights, and sometimes places in the middle of the trip when we have a good idea of where we expect to be. Otherwise, we have an itinerary of sorts. We know we want to get from Shannon to Kinsale and then work our way up the coast. I have a list of places we would like to see along the way, as well as the names of some recommended B&B's. Otherwise, we let the towns and weather dictate what we will do on any particular day. (I always like to call ahead in the morning for a b&b in the town where we think we will land for the night, saves a lot of aggravation!)
allisonm is online now  
Jul 26th, 2004, 10:53 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 180
Yoo hoo Merseyheart!
What memoroies you have evoked. Southport was always the place we would go on warm summer days and wander through the 'gentile' shops on Lord Street and have 'afternoon tea' in one of the many tea shops.
I dont get there very often now as all my family have sadly passed on but I still have an Aunt by marriage living in the area. We usually meet up in Chester, which is half way for both of us but I think next time I will suggest I make the extra journey and take her to Southport to see if it still the same as it was in my childhood. Thanks for the memories!
By the way check out the 'where do you live' thread as I have put a message for you there.
Bye for now
Countrymouse is offline  
Jul 27th, 2004, 12:15 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,231
We're all different. I plan what I want to cover, and I plan an itinerary that covers it, but I do not pre-book hotels - because that would tie me to my itinerary and remove my flexibility to respond to new ideas and suggestions that I might pick up from locals and other travellers along the way. As for Patrick (above), my itineraries are adjustable, not carved in stone.

I may pre-book a hotel a night or two in advance if I know I'm arriving in town late at night, otherwise I prefer to see where I end up at around mid-afternoon and then start looking. Yes, it takes an hour or so, visiting the Information Centre etc, but that can be a useful thing to do anyway for lots of reasons. And looking around a new city or town or village is always fascinating. The fact that you have a purpose for looking - accommodation - doesn't detract from that fascination.

Unless you're the type who worries that you're not going to find any! Then my approach probably isn't going to suit you. I guess I'm an optimist, always believe something will turn up, and so far something always has - although I have woken up in some strange places from time to time!
twoflower is offline  
Jul 27th, 2004, 01:38 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 180
Ooops! just read over my post and I meant to say Genteel (high end shops which dont display prices, if you have to ask you can't afford it!)not gentile as I said which of course means something quite different!
Sorry folks
Countrymouse is offline  

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