OK, there, my secret’s out. I am a horrible travel planner. Dreadful. Borderline incompetent. Obsessive, compulsive, indecisive, lazy, whiny, and just plain bad. Hard to believe, given how much traveling I actually do. I should be an old pro at this by now, right? Alas, no. While I love love love the actual traveling part, I’d rather stab my eyeballs out with a sharp object than actually do the planning.
My problem lies in the quest for the best trip possible. The perfect trip. Every little decision is an opportunity to optimize, and I will do it to an obsessive fault. The itinerary must give us the perfect amount of time in each location so that we have time to soak in the atmosphere, see the interesting sights, but not get bored or miss out on other fabulous opportunities elsewhere. The hotels must be quaint, charming, practical, clean, and in the perfect location. The transportation from place to place must be quick, comfortable, and efficient. And of course, every little bit must be the best bargain to be had anywhere. One of the many problems is this: having not been to these places before, I have no way of knowing, really knowing, how long I will want to spend where doing what, nor how much I want to pay for any particular bit.
Part of this obsession is that I have a really hard time making non-refundable bookings. I’m convinced that as soon as I click ‘purchase’, something better will come along: a better rate, a more central location, free internet, more local character. This is not a particularly useful attitude to have.
[Here I had an example of how I go about booking a single hotel, but it got so ridiculously long and ridiculous it had to be removed, in the interest of the sanity of anyone who's actually reading this post.]
You would think with all the agony that goes into trip planning for me, I would start doing it months if not years in advance. Not so. Just to make everything even more fun (or perhaps to prevent the planning pain from taking even more of my precious time), I procrastinate like a champion procrastinator at the Procrastination Olympics. I am the Michael Phelps of procrastination.
I have spent the past three days frantically researching and planning our big summer vacation, 10 days in Norway. The final itinerary involves delicately-orchestrated timing, daily changes of location, all the major cities*, a couple fjords, several islands, and a whole lot of fun. I hope. If we miss any single connection, the whole plan falls to pieces. If it all comes together, I might actually not be the worst travel planner in the world, after all. In fact, I just might be a travel-planning virtuoso.
I’ll let you know how it turns out. We leave tomorrow.
* if you can consider a population of 300,000 a ‘major city’