TRAVEL TALK: HOW WE PLAN A VACATION

As we are gallivanting around Thailand, I thought I’d share with you our trip planning process.

Our first overseas vacation was to Turkey. We traveled with a group, and had no responsibilities as far as the planning went. It was a wonderful first travel experience. However, now we prefer to travel on our own, and we make our own itineraries. We have never used a travel agent or traveled with a tourist company. Would it make our travels easier if were all planned for us? Absolutely. Planned tours are great for some people, but Jared and I like customizing our trips to fit our style and sense of adventure.

Our first trip alone was to Spain. We met there during Jared’s deployment, and had a wonderful two weeks. However, it was very difficult to plan ahead because we were never certain what days Jared would be there until about 24 hours before the trip began. We ┬áhad a hotel booked for the first night and nothing else. We spent that vacation booking hostel rooms a night or two prior. It actually worked out really well, and I only remember one frustrating day of trying to figure out where we would be sleeping the next night.

Ever since that trip, our trips have been planned in this manner:

    passport
  1. Decide on a place to visit.
  2. Do a Google image search and a quick read through on LonelyPlanet.com to verify we want to visit this area.
  3. Tell everyone we know, “we are going to X!!”
  4. Talk dreamily of the vacation.
  5. Complain about the Army leave protocol. (How are we supposed to state the address of where we are staying if we haven’t even booked it yet? How we can book a flight and hotel without knowing if the Army will approve his leave?!)
  6. Jared will submit his leave form, and immediately warn me that the trip may not happen.
  7. Intense doubt about leave getting approved sets in.
  8. I spend two weeks pestering Jared with, “is it approved yet?”
  9. Leave is approved! Yay! Again, tell everyone, “we are going to X!”
  10. Buy a travel book.
  11. Excitedly read the first section of the travel book.
  12. Spend a few evenings researching hotels and flights, but don’t actually book anything. “Let’s see if we can find something better.”
  13. Become slightly bored of the travel book.
  14. Weeks pass and nothing is booked.
  15. A month to three weeks out, I start panicking that we’ve waited too late to book things. Quickly book a flight and maybe the first night’s hotel.
  16. Panic eases. I nag, “we should plaaaaaan,” but I make no effort to research hotels.
  17. Justify a shopping trip to REI or theClymb.com. “We need this for the trip.”
  18. Watch an entire TV series on Netflix.
  19. Panic returns quite abruptly. Jared (who finds the best deals by meticulous research) quickly books remaining hotels and flights two days before the trip.
  20. Swear to never procrastinate on planning again.
  21. Repeat.

passportEvery. Single. Time. We love to travel, and we always end up at wonderful hostels and hotels, but we really wait until the last minute to make final decisions. Jared is our travel planner. I help decide where to go, and I happily make lists of sites I want to visit. However, when it comes to booking things, I am the worst. Jared will look through reviews, shop around for best prices, and click link after link until he finds a place that meets all of our needs. I am too impatient. I become overwhelmed with the choices, and usually decide to settle for whatever is the top recommended hotel so that I can be finished. For our Thailand trip, Jared gave me the assignment of finding a beach. I spent hours going through our travel books, looking at travel sites, and making pro/con lists. I reported to Jared that none of the beaches in Thailand fit our criteria. He took over my assignment.

It’s not the best system, but it’s ours. The joy of the vacation always makes me forget the difficulty of planning a trip!

THAILAND: CHIANG MAI MAGIC
TRAVEL TALK: WHY WE BACKPACK

2 Comments

  1. Reply
    Anonymous 20 November, 2013

    Ken & I never use a travel agency either. We do a lot of research before hand, decide our route we want to travel and send for lots & lots of brochures, etc. So far, its worked out for us. We are not one to “follow the sheep” as Ken puts it, We did use a tour company when we went to Hawaii though, and that worked out great. We haven’t traveled outside the US yet, so our only experience has been in the States. But, you go for everything you can! As Ken says, todays experiences are tomorrows memories!
    Enjoy your blog!
    Love,
    Irma

    • Reply
      Bethany 25 November, 2013

      Thanks, Irma! We prefer to customize a trip to exactly what we want- why else travel?

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