Lately, I have been itching to go away somewhere, far away, pack my bags and go to the airport kinda thing. After being home for almost six months since my last overseas trip, cabin fever struck me deliriously again and the travel bug got worse and worse.
Reading all your lovely travel blogs out there ain’t helping either.
So, I will try to keep this short and sweet. Because this was a tad bit unplanned and more like a spur of the moment decision (this trip is happening in a couple of weeks!), I went into OCD travel planning mode frenzy.
1. Know where you want to go
When this unexpected trip fell on my lap, we didn’t have any destinations in mind. My hubby left it all conveniently for me to decide. That. Really. Helps. Where to go? With 195 countries to chose from, (and don’t be too technical on Taiwan either because I won’t indulge you), you have quite a lot to deal with. But trimming it down to 9 or 10 countries wasn’t too hard.
2. Be realistic
I admit I am not an expert travel planner myself but I do love the challenge involved. This is not intended to substitute or bypass professional travel planners’ tips or advice nor yours for that matter. So please don’t disagree or blame me if you read something here not to your liking. All my opinions and thoughts are my own, as crazy as they may be. I am here for your reading pleasure. So when I trimmed down the list to 9 or 10, I was as realistic as I can be putting into consideration the vacation time involved, budget (always important!) and flights available, among others.
3. Have an outlet in the midst of all the planning
Spending too many hours on the computer researching on the best travel deals can lead to eye strain, back/neck ache, carpal tunnel and/or mental fatigue. Right now, I’m taking a break and simply writing down my thoughts excitedly and sharing to you what’s been going on for the past few days. Earlier, I did a 30 minute yoga session and then *don’t kill me* indulged myself in a snack. I was hungry after all that computer time and didn’t want to eat until after all that downward dogging. So, have a break, have a kitkat! You will be able to think much more clearly after that.
4. Learn to compromise
So what if that dream trip to Italy cannot be materialized this time due to budgetary limitations? Should I pick the much more expensive ones with the unique and awesome reviews or the slightly cheaper ones with the below average ratings? If I can’t snorkel, can I at least zip line? If the trip packages are over your budget, can you try to break down the hotel and flight and maybe find a much rather affordable option? Are you willing to couch surf, stay at a hostel or find a cheaper resort?
5. Don’t care too much about labels
Some people are stuck up with labels. I used to be a travel snob too although I admit there are times when it just rears its ugly head (ie. HUGE tour groups in buses). “Tourists vs travelers”. The age old debate. Hundreds of articles and posts have been written about it, debates and discussions over who is cool, politically correct and travel worthy. As of now, for me, as long as one is enjoying his time traveling/touring and RESPECTING the local customs, the environment and its people, that is all that matters. So, all inclusive or independent travel?
6. Have pen and paper handy
Simple enough. Due to the thousands of information that you sift through as you are browsing, and the multiple tabs open, make sure you write important information as you go along. If you accidentally close that tab, oops, what was that again? It is also easier to make comparisons if you write it down on a piece of paper.
7. Call, email or Facebook
If you have any questions, do the above. A Facebook page makes it so much easier to communicate as they answer you back in real time. At least the good ones do. I called and left a voice mail AND also sent a private message to their Facebook inbox. How’s that for anal! Facebook replied first followed shortly by a phone call. That is good customer service.
8. Once you have decided on a destination, do you plan your activities or just go with the flow?
Obviously, being the OCD person that I am, I need to have my itinerary planned in advance no matter how long or short a trip is. However, I know that there is no such thing as a perfect vacation so I leave room for the mistakes, the unforeseen circumstances and the acts of Mother Nature. All hubby wants for this trip is to run, snorkel and have some downtime from all the activities planned. Wish granted except for the snorkeling part. I am still looking…
9. Have some support
In our case, my supportive hubby decided to indulge my whims before I get into full blown “travel withdrawals”. For certain, he does not want me in one of those bleak dark moods. He checked his work schedule and voila, found a few days off. So despite our self imposed travel ban which I mentioned in a past post, having him agree to a trip was such a blessing! Along the way, he keeps on asking me about the progress of my travel planning and I, too, ask for his opinion or advice on certain things before I finalize them. This keeps me sane because although he left it all up to me, I know that he is interested in what I have to say and it keeps him a part of the planning process too.
I am now about 75% done. In just two days, I managed to accomplish the major steps. Now, its time to fine tune the details.
Was this short and sweet? Umm, No. But that’s just me. I’m a lil crazy that way.
Back to work!!!