The rest of the world enjoys a leisurely two months off to wander about on vacation; we Americans squash everything into our two or three weeks. The key to a successful quick trip is to be organized with all important information available quickly, so not to waste precious time and money hunting for a hotel, a train schedule, a place to buy plane tickets, etc. At the same time, it is equally important to be flexible and accommodating because there could always be, say, an anti-government strike happening at your airport, and you may just have to skip your honeymoon (If we had taken our honeymoon immediately following the wedding, we’d probably still be stuck there, which really isn’t such a bad thing. I’m not sure why people are complaining about being trapped in a beautiful country with no other option but to head back to their beach bungalows… boo hoo hoo).
Jon and I are very organized travelers in that we like to create excel spreadsheets for our trips. Recently we discovered the power of Google Documents, which allows you to share and update documents in real time that live on Google. Even prior to Google Documents, we planned our trips through excel. Here’s a screenshot of our upcoming honeymoon to Thailand. Beware: anal retentive behavior ahead.
Now, what I don’t do is insert daily plans into each one, because I do like a little flexibility when I arrive in a new place and want to explore. Then before every trip, I print out the confirmation receipts of all hotels, addresses and directions, plus two copies of the itinerary, and stick them into a folder.
Yes, I’m aware how painfully un-fun I sound as a traveling companion. But ah ha, my organization has also made me a terribly popular travel buddy.
However, I am not alone. When I went to Italy with my friend Janice, I had organized our trip by date in red pen, highlighted, paper clipped by city and even snipped the extra white paper so I would have less weight in paper to carry. Janice, however, outdid me and showed up with the whole package velobound as well. My other friend Jen showed up at my flat in Paris with a similar assembled log and even had each day outlined with suggested museums and activities for the morning, afternoon and evening. When I had something similar for my India trip, my travel companion, a very laid-back Californian surfer dude, was fairly put-off by this thing and was afraid he would have a terrible time traveling with me – but we had a good time after all because I was open to leaving my itinerary and trying out something new – I just liked having the itinerary there for back-up, especially since no money was put down on some of the hotels. There’s always something that doesn’t go according to plan, but it’s less likely if you’ve planned for it.