Monday, June 9, 2014

How far out do you plan your trips?

We just spent an evening with friends planning travel for summer 2015. No matter that we have scheduled trips for the remaining months in 2014—yet to be taken.
Stopping to admire windmills in
The Netherlands
How far out do you plan your travel?

Are you a spontaneous traveler who is ready to go at a day’s notice? Can you pack for a week or two in one carry-on suitcase? Do you have a list of items to take at the ready—and 3 ounce bottles of necessary liquids already filled? Are the clothes in your closet basic, wrinkle-free mix and match pieces—with two pairs of shoes that work for any occasion?
If so, I envy you—to a certain extent. Unplanned discovery can be thrilling. Seredipity can be energizing. It can also be nerve-wracking.

I’m a Virgo, which means I’m a compulsive planner (although Virgos aren’t supposed to believe in that astrology stuff). Once I’ve decided on a destination, I generally research extensively, reading through guide books, checking the Internet, and touching base on other travel blogs to find out all I can about transportation, activities, culture, and accommodations?
A computer is an essential tool
for planning travel.
I like to have a good outline of intentions before leaving on a trip. I like to know where I’ll sleep each night and what my budget is for the entire trip. Traveling on the fly and bunking on a stranger’s couch doesn’t work for me.

I’m still flexible and will easily jump at the chance for an unexpected adventure. But afterwards, I fall back on my pre-planned itinerary. It provides a measure of security and sense of control. I know what’s important for me to see and do on the trip and will have blocked out time to accomplish these priorities during the allotted travel time. If I learn about something not-to-be-missed as I travel, that could easily become a priority, too.
Bridge over canal in Amsterdam
If you have a long-term bucket list of places to see and things to do during your life time (as I have), it helps to plan those over a period of five years or so. Of course, I’ve never had a year that exactly followed my list, but I try to come close. Some trips are added and others get dropped or moved to a future year for various reasons such as finding a bargain or learning of a destination that might not have been on my radar originally. So I revise my long-term list almost every year, but I still love the sense of direction it provides.
Riding in the countryside out of

What’s your travel-planning style? I’d love to hear how you decide where, when, and how to travel.

Photos by Beverly Burmeier


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