I have always been an organized person. As a kid, I arranged my books by spine color, reading level or publisher. In middle school, I lived by my school assignment book. My addiction to to-do lists was solidified by high school. And by college, I had mastered organization to the point where I was always a couple weeks ahead on reading and assignments and I never, ever pulled an all-nighter. You read that right: I had my papers done weeks in advance and got eight hours of sleep every night.
Lest you think I’m bragging, let me take you to the present day. My life has gotten so chaotic and disorganized that I frequently carry to-do lists over for weeks and don’t get around to changing out of my pajamas until 3:00 in the afternoon. It’s not uncommon for me to have a dozen half-started emails, three or four blog posts in progress, a Skype conversation open, an editorial calendar open, my Twitter feed scrolling along and articles in various stages open on my laptop, not to mention water boiling on the stove and kittens that need wrangling in the other room … all while on the phone.
So when it comes to planning the details for my travels, I downright suck, and I’m not even sure it’s because I’m a busy person. Booking flights and hostels are among those things that roll over from week to week until my husband puts his foot down and insists I do something about my procrastination if for no other reason than to ensure I don’t end up sleeping on the sidewalk in a busy city.
The truth, though, is that, even though I love to travel, I hate to plan the details. I don’t mean I can’t let things just happen once I arrive somewhere, because, for the most part, that’s not a big deal. But flights need to be booked, visas need to be secured and vaccinations need to be gotten before I can wonder any streets without a plan. Some places require advance planning for events and festivals, and several tours need reservations several months in advance. But I don’t want to research which hostel I should stay at or wade through all my options for flights. I don’t like to pour over travel guides for details like other people do either. Quite frankly, I just wish the details would fall into place and I didn’t have to deal with them.
I’m lucky to be married to someone who doesn’t mind dealing with the travel details, even when he’s not traveling with me. I pass along the URLs of the websites I know he should use to find the right hostel or I give him my opinions on what I want in a tour operator, but beyond that, I let him work out the nitty-gritty details.
I think part of my dislike of planning travel details comes from the incredible amount of information available. Finding a flight isn’t as simple as just plugging in dates and booking a ticket. For my upcoming trip to New York City, for example, I had to cross reference a variety of dates and arrival and departure times across more than a dozen search engines to find the best deal. Morning or night? Aisle seat or window? Connecting flights are not? Laguardia or JFK?
It’s your turn to sound off: How do you handle planning the details of your travels? Do you like to plan or do you dread managing the visa application, plane tickets and advanced bookings as much as I do?