Confessions of an Obsessive Compulsive Travel Planner

They say the first step to recovery is to admit you have a problem – so this is confession time. I hear time and time again that you need to be loose with your itinerary, allow room for things to happen, don’t over-schedule. Well my friends, I confess that I have a problem. I obsess over the planning phase of travel. I spend countless hours researching, reading guides, reviews, googling everything and anything related to the destination, and yes, I even analyze and study maps to see what is in the area and how to best maximize my time. While others stress over planning a trip, I pretty much live for it. I look forward to planning my next trip like an alcoholic looks forward to their next glass of booze.

I have many friends and even family members who dread independent travel, they do not want to “waste” time planning. They want all their details taken care of. They just want to show up and be taken from point A to point B and simply enjoy. There is certainly nothing wrong with an escorted tour, they actually do have many advantages. I just happen to enjoy independent travel.

The main reason is that planning and researching my trip is a big part of what generates joy for me. Yes you heard me right – planning a trip, every single last detail of it, gives me joy.  It gives me a sense of excitement and builds my anticipation. Finding that perfect hotel, in the perfect location, at that perfect price point thrills me. Planning what to do by researching all the must see attractions, and also finding those little out of the way places excites me. Sign me up for travel planners anonymous – I did say I needed help!!!

IMG_7186Now don’t go thinking that all this planning means I am a control freak that must have her way. That is not the case – well not exactly. I do ask for advice and feedback from my travel partners (usually my husband and 2 girls). I do take into consideration what they are looking forward to do and see so I can make the trip a memorable experience for all of us. And trust me, it is not easy to accommodate the likes and dislikes of my crew, but somehow I manage. I just have to make sure I research it all and find the best ways to fit it all in. Which brings me to my next point.

I over-schedule. Yes many times I come home needing a vacation from my vacation. But God help me, there are just too many things I want to see and experience, and unfortunately not enough time to do it all. I am one of those who likes to get up early (how else will you catch that beautiful sunrise) and get to it. I do not normally go on vacation to sleep the day away. There will be enough time for that once I no longer have the energy to rove. How does that saying go? – The early bird misses the crowd!  Yes, I am aware that is not how it goes, but it is the truth. And when you travel with school aged children you are faced with the reality that travel will most likely be during “high season”. This equates to high crowds. So getting up early is a good way to not only fit everything in, but actually enjoy part of the day without a gazillion people all around you.

Well, not sure I will be cured anytime soon. Thankfully this is not something that will kill me. Maybe one day I will take it easy and plan to not have a plan. But quite frankly we can all live with more joy in our lives and if planning a trip gives me joy then so be it.

What do you need to confess? What trip are you planning for next?

Until next time and Happy Roving!!!


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  1. I understand obsessive planning, but I think there can be a middle ground. Typically I try and schedule anywhere from 2-4 ‘sights’ per day, depending on how long I’m in the city. That way I never go a day without seeing something, and I have a bit of free time to play with. On longer trips, I also like to ‘waste’ a day and just relax.

    My next trip is to the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal. It’s harder to plan there ahead of time, as there’s not a boatload of information regarding travel there.

    1. I like your strategy. Your Portugal adventure sounds like fun. I have yet to visit Portugal and look forward to hear about your adventures there.

  2. Oh my goodness. The planning of a trip and knowing everything about a town is so much fun. You are my kinda girl. SNAP! I really feel you have written what is in my head about planning a trip. Watch out if I don’t have a trip booked to plan ?

    1. God help us if we get together to plan a trip one day. Enjoy your planning and your trips. Happy Roving.

  3. I do a ton of planning, too. I like to show up in a place knowing my options and my top choices. Couchsurfing adds in that bit of serendipity, so I still get to discover things I never could have planned for.

    1. Oh I don’t know if I could ever do couch surfing. Maybe I am just to old for it and past that stage in my life. I think I would have done it years ago when I was in college and backpacking through Europe. I was a lot more relaxed back then. Would love to hear about your experiences couch surfing. Happy Roving!!!

  4. You are just like my sister!!! She loves doing all the planning for our trips and am so grateful that she enjoys it because I am the complete opposite. I just show up to a destination and from there try to figure out what I want to do, which sometimes ends up wasting precious time.

    1. I bet you 2 make great travel buddies. It is always good to have a planner and to have one that goes with the flow. Do you travel together much? Happy Roving

  5. Haha, I can relate to a lot of this although I’ve relearnt to go with the flow a bit more recently. My bf is really the same as me, so we’ve had to make a concerted effort to just give into the unknown. This worked on our recent trip to Spain where we came across some incredible restaurants and events through just stumbling upon them. But I’ll admit, I’ll always love planning the next trip!

    1. So you stumbled upon restaurants and you did not have issues getting seated? I found in Edinburgh that if I did not have a reservation our party of 4 would not get to eat. I must admit I need to learn to go with the flow more but the planning really is a big driving force in me.

  6. I can definitely understand the over planning struggle. I used to spend so much time planning, but I think I loosely plan trips now because the process is never ending. I don’t have enough time in between trips anymore to indulge. I love that you plan according to your entire family’s interest, I’m sure that’s not always easy.

    1. No it is not always easy to please everyone but achieving some balance is important. I love the planning process but you are right if you are constantly on the go then you do not have the time to go so in depth. Happy Roving!!!

  7. Well i think this is a nice way to travel efficiently. I would like to do the same. But i guess i do not have enough time to do that. Travelling next to S. KOREA. happy travels!

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