To Plan or Not to Plan

To Plan or Not to Plan? This is obviously a personal question and depends on, well, your personality. Before I share what we do, please understand, I honestly do not believe that there is a right or wrong way. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below, too.

I think I may have mentioned this before… I love lists. So, you might think I am a huge planner for trips. I’m not. Maybe I used to be? Then, we had kids… Kids can either make you a crazy planner or a non-planner. After trying to plan with kids and having my husband and I disappointed because we couldn’t go to our favorite restaurant that we had been so-looking forward to because there was an hour wait, I knew I needed to change my thinking. We often don’t even plan whether we are going to check into our hotel or go somewhere else in the city until we see the city’s skyline (which is super annoying, I’m sure, for anyone who may be meeting us). We are now flexible, meaning, we may eat lunch at 11am or we may eat lunch at 2pm… a lot of it depends on our kids. But, I actually think this is a positive thing, at least for this ex-crazy planner. It has helped me relax. We have discovered all kinds of new places just because we sometimes hit a wall and are thinking, “get these kids some monkey bars, asap.” (Does anyone else have kids that start climbing when they are tired? What?!) Granted, phones and google maps, lend themselves well to this and help me loosen the reigns a bit too. It’s easier than ever to find restaurants and nearby parks, and this is comforting.

That said, we do plan a bit… we always buy our plane tickets at least a couple of months in advance for domestic flights and 6 months in advance for international flights. We also do have hotels rooms booked at least a week in advance for weekend trips and usually a month or so in advance for longer trips. I remember driving out to the east coast with my family one summer. Now, keep in mind, these were the days before cell phones and Mapquest.  We weren’t really in a hurry, but around 5pm, my parents decided that we should start to look for a hotel for the night. They were all booked. We finally found one at 10 at night. My brother and I knew not to ask if there was a pool. I don’t know why that memory has stuck with me (clearly, I had a very nice childhood if that stands out as a struggle- ha!) but it has and I make certain that we have hotels booked for road trips. There are some things that I just need and knowing that we are going to be at a decent hotel at the end of the day is one of them. Food is another item I like to plan for… Not necessarily restaurants but just food. Breakfast to be specific. Clearly, there aren’t any full breakfasts had in hotel rooms unless you think ahead and fill out those door-handle room menus or can wait 45 minutes (we don’t and can’t) but a few of us (me and the 4 year old to be specific) need to eat the second we wake up, so I definitely plan to have some Clif bars on hand. I also tend to carry some Smokehouse almonds with us at all times- we all love them and they help us make it through until the next meal. Activities are items we half plan for… we think, “hey, it might be fun to drag our kids on an architecture tour,” but if it is sold out or the weather isn’t great, we don’t stress about it. It’s just always a good idea to have a backup plan should, say, my husband’s business meeting go longer than expected. Having activities in the back of my mind is a must.  We also recently discovered that our children like lists too (yay!). If we do have an agenda, it always helps to draw out what we are going to do or even make a Home Alone-ish map. Another way that we plan is through friends. It is so much fun to ask friends what they would recommend; these are always the best recommendations.

So, in summary, this is what we plan for: food, hotels, plane tickets. We wing it with: activities and restaurants.  Somewhat embarrassingly, I think it has taken us years to get to this point. My husband, the non-planner, and I, the crazy planner, have finally met in the middle and found the sweet spot in planning our trips together where neither of us is stressed out by the other (we just stress other people out now).

Being Americans, I do feel that I have to address this Disney planning business. It is a planner’s dream come true. So. Many. Ways.To.Plan. There is something thrilling to me knowing that we need to book the Belle Breakfast exactly 180 days before we plan to dine with the princess. Or, when I discovered Fast Passes… oh the fun to be had with those. And, maps, how fun would it be to highlight and number those so as to maximize our time. But, in the end, guess what we did? We showed up. I’ll admit, I felt a little cheated out of all of the fun planning. But guess who didn’t feel cheated? Our kids. And that made everything just fine and just as magical. Maybe they didn’t get to meet Anna and Elsa, but just look at how much fun the then 2-year old had sneaking in a hug with Cinderella! And maybe we criss-crossed the park and wasted all kinds of precious time, but then we had time to just wander and take in all there was to see (and there was plenty off good people watching, too). I should add, though, that we went on a 92 degree day in June, so the park wasn’t terribly crowded, but still… I guess my point is that if you plan, it works out great and if you don’t, that’s great too. It’s finding what works for you and your traveling companions.

I want to know… do you tend toward the planning or non-planning end of the spectrum?

If you found this amusing if not a bit helpful and feel like pinning it, here you are 🙂

 

My Ultimate Travel Bucket List

Hello again from cloudy Michigan! Last week, I asked you what was on your Travel Bucket List. This week, I share the Top 10 Places on My Ultimate Travel Bucket List. Since this is a family-friendly travel blog, I’ve included some fun facts to share with your kids, grandkids, neighbor kids… grown-up friends who act like kids… really anyone.

Photos courtesy of Pixabay
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Australia: Australia has always intrigued me. How great would it be to be there right now, enjoying sunny skies and catching a little tennis? Seeing the 12 Apostles would definitely be on my list, too. I do have to admit that binge reading all of Liane Moriarty’s books (affiliate link) this past summer has increased my fascination as well.  And, can you believe that we know two families from our small town who are traveling to Australia in the next year?  That seems like an unlikely coincidence and also an indication that we should probably book some tickets too.

Did you know… that it is believed that humans have lived in Australia for an estimated 45000 years? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Turks and Caicos: I am a huge fan of Caribbean travel. We have been to several islands, including Paradise Island (Bahamas), Grand Caymen, St. Kitts, and Aruba. Every time that I see a photo of Turks and Caicos, I am drawn to it. I can’t quite explain it (maybe it is the white sand, turquoise water, or sunny skies.. maybe?), but it seems like Turks and Caicos and our family would be very compatible.

Did you know…that there are dozens of underwater cave systems in Turks and Caicos? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Colorado: Can you believe I have lived in the United States my entire life and have never been to Colorado? I don’t think I know another person in my city or state who hasn’t been to Colorado. I feel like it must be fairly special because people leave our snowy state to go to another snowy state (what?!?) instead of heading for an all-inclusive in Jamaica.

Did you know… that Colorado is the only state to have turned down the Olympics? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Greece: My parents have such a wild and crazy story about traveling to Greece that it has always had a place in my memory (probably because we all live the opposite of wild and crazy lives). My dad often spoke of Greece fondly and, when I lived in Chicago, it was our tradition to head to Greek Town for dinner. For whatever reason, I just have always wanted to go because my dad seemed to love it so much.

Did you know… that Greece is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Portugal: While I have memories of my dad talking about Greece, Portugal is on my mom’s bucket list. Herein, I also feel enthralled with this country and would love to go someday, hopefully, on a family vacation.

Did you know…that Lisbon (Portugal’s capital city) is the oldest city in Western Europe? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Sweden: Although I am not Swedish, I have been asked several times, especially when I lived in Chicago, if I am Sweedish. Believe me, when I had my children, I often wished I lived in Sweden and could be given the maternity leave that seemed to make sense. It just seems like a place of peace and logical thinking. Oh, and the landscape doesn’t look too shabby either.

Did you know… that Sweden’s official name is the Kingdom of Sweden? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Switzerland: I don’t know much about this country other than Roger Federer represents it quite well. Again, though, judging from pictures of the mountains and the opportunity for outside activity, I think I would be very comfortable.

Did you know… that Switzerland has been a neutral country in war times for over 190 years?

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Italy: While in college, I spent 3 weeks in Vienna for summer school. Afterward, several of us traveled south. We spent time in France and Spain… and only one day in Italy. I’d love to return to be able to explore more of the larger cities and history of the country. And, the Amalfi Coast, of course.

Did you know… that Campione d’Italia is in the borders of Switzerland but is part of Italy? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Texas: I really didn’t think twice about Texas until Fixer Upper. Now, it’s on my list. Waco, Texas, to be specific. (Yes, you read that correctly. A destination made my list based on an HGTV show.) I just think it is amazing how two people can really breathe a new life into not only homes but also a town and its inhabitants.

Did you know… that Waco, Texas, is the place where Dr. Pepper came to be? (Source)

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Vancouver, Canada: Again, you can thank HGTV for this one. I enjoy watching Love It or List It Too not only for the fun little competition my husband and I have going (yes, he is a really good sport about my HGTV addiction) but also because of the beautiful scenery. It looks like a city I’d like to check out.

Did you know… that overall Vancouver is English-speaking but 52% of its city residents’ first language is one other than English? (Source)

*Please note that the pictures above are not my own. They were taken from Pixabay– thank you! Hopefully, someday soon, I will have my own photos to share.

**Please also note that this post contains affiliate links, meaning that, at no cost to you, I may receive some compensation.

***While I’m asterisk-ing… I’d love for you to come visit me over on Instagram and Pinterest. See you there!

****And get ready for a giveaway next month, too!!!

Oh, and in case you are wondering what we are up to while we are grounded, here are some photos (these are mine) of our day at the beach last weekend. It was sunny and 60 degrees in January! 

Photo credit- Mackinaw Road
Photo credit- Mackinaw Road
Photo credit- Mackinaw Road