It is one of the biggest fights you have as a traveller – to what extent should you be planning your trip?
If you’re going on a long RTW trip, it is impossible to plan every day. Sure you can maybe take weeks at a time, but life will always deal you curveballs.
As someone who loves travel and planning, I find it a constant battle with myself not to try and pin down every second of every trip.
This has its own ups and downs.
The freedom to do whatever takes your fancy on a particular day is always tempting. I mean, if the sun is splitting the sky do you really want to trail around another museum in 40C heat with 5,000 tightly packed strangers? Vatican, I’m looking at you.
But I’ve also had time that was wasted due to indecision. No idea on where to start on a visitors list so instead wander around aimlessly. And sure, if you have a few weeks in an area, that’s fine. But if it’s a whistle stop tour, I think it can be beneficial to have some idea of things to do.
One of my first trips was a military operation – I had exactly three hours to get round the Louvre. Anyone who’s ever been will tell you that is insane. After that I would head to Notre Dame and spend two hours there – the second visit I spent almost that amount of time in the queue alone.
I would spend two hours at the catacombs – again I got lost and that never happened.
I have since learned to create a list for myself. Must visits and If I have time.
This way if I was in a particular area of a city or town I could hit the things I really wanted to see first and know that if I had the time, I could swing by others. But then also I didn’t feel pressured to visit everything.
Many of the things I visited were simply because they were on a list of things you must do. And some of the coolest things I saw were spur of the moment decisions.
I think planning should also be taken into account when booking accommodation.
I am a firm believer of booking in advance, especially in high season in big cities.
One particularly unfortunate incident lead to me being woken in a hostel in Naples because the girls I was sharing with were heading to Paris the next morning – and there were zero places to stay for under 100 Euros a night. It caused a crazy level of tension between the two travellers.
Alternatively, I ended up in a hostel in Rome – The Yellow – which after one night I realised was not my type of place. There were a number of places in the area I could have switched to but because of pre-paying I was stuck there for four nights.
If somewhere offers you the option of booking for less than £5/$6 deposit, it’s worth doing just as a backup plan. If you decide to extend your stay else where, then it’s hardly a loss. And if you don’t, at least you have somewhere to spend the night.