Yesterday, I started a blog post and it triggered this little post. I have a small problem and I’m going to fess up. Do people still say ‘fess up’? When it comes to travel, I’m a notorious over-planner. It started when my children were young. I didn’t want to get off in some faraway location without every snack, medicine, or piece of clothing my babies might need. Also, I didn’t want to go anywhere without a reservation, so I meticulously planned every stop for every trip we made. Ask anyone who has ever traveled with me, I over think my trips.
It’s not entirely my fault that I over-plan. Travel was a lot easier when I was young, because fewer people traveled. You could hit the road and not worry about a place to eat or sleep. Today, if you’re heading anywhere touristy and it’s not off-season, you better make a reservation.
Not everything is bad about being an over-planner. I’m not sure where the line is drawn between your ordinary, everyday planner and your over-planner, but I’ve made a list of the pitfalls and the advantages I’ve found in my little world.
Pitfalls of the over-planned vacation:
- ,You have little time to discover things on your own. We were In Zion National Park and I really wanted to hike The Narrows. We had a reservation in Bryce National Park for that evening. We couldn’t spare the time for the hike. My heart ached as I watched hikers head down the path to adventure, and I had to run the other way, because of my over-planned agenda.
- Everything collapses if one thing goes wrong. Car trouble or a sick traveler and you’re trying to figure out how to get to that next reservation. On the bright side, in cases of sickness, an over-planner always has a medicine kit (see advantages of the over-planned vacation below).
- If you have to cancel a trip, it takes many phone calls and emails. Canceling a trip is a lot of work with no reward.
- You have too much luggage because you are prepared for everything. We were on a tight budget when the children were small. I packed raincoats, snacks, hiking boots, snorkeling gear, and toys for downtime on our trips. (like I allowed for downtime) I took everything we might need instead of budgeting to buy a new one if we did need something along the trip. Now, my mantra is, ‘you can buy it if you need it‘. Rarely, do I travel to a remote location without a grocery store or a pharmacy. Rarely, do I need to buy the stuff I didn’t pack.
Advantages of the over-planned vacation:
- You know about the ‘must sees‘ and ‘cool and unusual things to do‘. I visit many websites searching locations before we head out on a trip. I want to have the best cuisine offered on my travels. I want to know the hidden gems of the towns I visit. A few years back, we were going to Chicago and I discovered that Neil deGrasse Tyson was in town at the same time we were in Chicago. I got tickets to the show. Initially, I’m not sure anyone was excited about this, other than me. Afterwards, I think everyone was glad we went to see him. Who knew an astrophysicist could be so entertaining?
- You know what to expect in regards to the weather. I couldn’t tell you what the weather in my hometown will be tomorrow, but when I travel, I’ve done the research. Weather can be unpredictable even to the traveler-in-the-know, so I throw in an extra umbrella, just in case.
- You have everything you need ahead of time. I’m like the boy scout – prepared. I have a medicine kit, safety pins, and always a blanket for a chilly plane or car ride. I have become a better packer, the more I travel. I love to brag after a trip and let everyone know I wore everything I packed. It’s my travel badge of honor. Any traveler will tell you, packing is an art.
I think there has to be a balance when you plan a trip. I want to be more spontaneous, but I go into panic mode when I’m not in control. Hopefully, I’ll overcome this malady. Eventually, my husband and I want to travel around America, without an agenda. If we want to take the road-less-traveled to glimpse the Twine Ball Museum in Minnesota or the World’s Largest Fork in Missouri, who’s to stop us. Hopefully, not this over-planning globe-trotter.
Traveling should be fun and, when traveling with family, it should be about the time together. I’m lucky and I have easy-going family members. They accept my over-planning ways with few complaints. I think we have fun when we travel.
Next week, I’m going to tell you about a trip we took when I honestly didn’t plan anything for us to do.
Now that I’m writing more, I have less time to over-plan my life. I’m pretty sure, that’s a good thing.