Forward planning II…

Well, Forward Planning I got a few people going!

The spike in traffic yesterday was amazing after I’d posted a link to it in a forum posting…

So here’s Forward Planning II, which isn’t as contentious, but it should give some people food for thought.

Although there are those who do admirable amounts of research into prospective trips, there are those who over plan everything.

They try to cram in as much as possible into a short space of time and expect you to concur with their every move.

Sadly that isn’t always the case…

Putting a schedule together where there’s a whole host of destinations, things to see, things to do and places to eat at always seems a bit pointless.

I’ve seen itineraries posted that haven’t any rest days or have a list of things that’s going to require several days rushing around after downing fifteen double espressos or at least two boxes of caffeine tablets (neither are recommended by the way – one to two double espressos per day is enough for me and I’ve not knowingly taken caffeine tablets).

Yes, the posters aspire to doing everything on the list, but how many end up spoiling their collective experiences by going down that route? Virtually all of the best trips I/we have done have had a bit of planning about them, but not everything has been planned to the nth degree on these ventures.

Outward and return travel has been booked, airport car parking when needed plus first and last nights or the full trip’s accommodation and a bit of in-country travel on some occasions, but there’s always been some leeway to have days off, change plans or just drop stuff when the weather turns nastier than whatever was in the wood shed*

Mistakes can be made during the planning stages – we ended up in one Norwegian town for a couple of nights three years ago that we should have given a miss to, but we made the most of it.

We ended up walking to a nearby village, had a very good lunch, wandered around a fort and then spent time by the fjord listening to Roxette’s sound check in advance of their nearby open air show that evening.

Once back at our digs, we made a meal from the stuff we’d bought at the local supermarket and then whiled away the evening in a park by the same fjord – heading into the nearby pub for a couple of bevvies wasn’t an option as I’d already paid the equivalent of £8 for a beer that cost £1.68 at home earlier in the day!

Our last trip to Portugal had five main ports of call – the next one will have three-four depending on whether we decide explore the Douro valley or leave that for another visit. A rough outline has been made of where we want to go in Portugal, but apart from the flights and the first nights there, nothing else is going to be booked so we can have total flexibility.

Last year’s trip to Suffolk had just two base camps. One at the beginning of the week and another near the end. We’d sussed out which campsites to use in advance, but hadn’t booked them, even though it was high season.

The highlighter pen had been used in a paper copy of Lonely Planet’s Great Britain guide, but that was it as far as the other planning went. Decisions were made on the day as to where we were going to go and what we wanted to see and even these changed as there was a problem with the car and then rain clouds gathered and dumped their load on us , the car and the tent!

So, is indecision the key to flexibility? Could be!

Research can be done and notes made, but if you have some flexibility in your schedule, then there’s always room for days in magical places that you find en-route, brief encounters of different kinds or days off. Or to find ways and means of combatting unexpected strikes, any food induced quick-steps or bookings that have gone astray…

And besides, aren’t you supposed to be on holiday or travelling to escape from the stresses of commuting, work schedules, bosses who are pains in the neck (or other parts of the anatomy!) and everything else that goes with the 9-5.

Leave the carefully prepared holiday spreadsheet behind and enjoy the break (no I couldn’t believe that people planned their holidays on spreadsheets either until I read a few Kindle books recently!).

And remember, it’s your holiday or trip you’re on and you should do what you please and like…

Our next ones aren’t set in stone – we have some dates in mind and some destinations too, but as we’ve made tentative plans before and then dumped them at three days notice to jet off somewhere else, we’ll see what’s out there!

* Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in both the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now firmly based in't Yorkshire...
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