I get excited when I plan an upcoming trip. Like a kid in a candy store. I start pulling up all kinds of maps and websites on the web and immerse myself deep into best-of, what-not-to-miss and must-see lists until my eyes hurt.
I pull out my notebook and frantically scribble down lists paired with pieces of information, timetables, prices, etc.
Total planning craziness
When I finally come up for air I realise that I’ve done it again. I’ve planned a trip that is bursting with to-dos, and even though every single place, activity, restaurant & bar I’ve put on my list is worth a visit, I know that it’s humanly not possible to execute this plan without going completely crazy.
So I go back to square one and ask myself a few questions.
- What are the three places I really want to see at my destination?
- What activity/tour will give me a sense of the place/people?
- What’s my top pick for restaurants, bars & cafés?
- What shops do I want to visit?
- Do I have any recommendations from friends?
This means that lots of to-dos unfortunately get kicked off the list and only a fracture is allowed to stay. I’ll make sure, however, that these are things that I absolutely love to see and experience.
Sometimes I have a hard time crossing something off the list, even though I know that it just crams up my schedule.
“You have to be strong,” I tell myself while crossing it off. “It’s just another reason to go back.” The truth is that it’s impossible to see everything worth seeing at a popular tourist destination. You have to make a choice and pick your favourite(s); otherwise you’ll be rushing around not enjoying any of your carefully chosen sights.
Find that sweet balance
Planning a trip for me is about finding that sweet balance of a few planned items and enough room for downtime, shopping, “wasting time” at bars & cafés and spontaneous activities.
I always try to go a little with the flow. The flow of the place I’m visiting, the flow of the people I’m meeting, and my own flow.
“Today I’ve planned to do XYZ but I just feel like going to a park with a book relaxing and watching people pass by.”
Don’t fight it. Take care of your needs. Also on holidays, when you’ve already planned a bunch of things to do and to see. Better to spend a day lounging around a cosy café trying the local sweets than forcing yourself through a museum when all you want to do is to sit down and drink copious amounts of latte.
You probably won’t even remember one thing of that museum but you’ll tell your friends back home about that chocolate croissant to die for.