Plan your vacation to the minute, or let it just flllooowww?

Let’s say you’re taking a vacation to someplace you probably won’t be back to soon. 6 days long, so not too short, but not very long either.

Do you think it’s better to meticulously plan out every day in advance, or just show up and decide each day what to do that day?

Neither. The best thing to do is to have 1-2 things that you’d like to do for the day, but also leave space for changing your mind and finding something cool you weren’t expecting. (Sort of depends where you’re going what this will be – could be hanging out in a cafe, or shopping in a market, or seeing a museum, etc.).

One of the coolest things I ever did was visit the Museum of Electro-Technology in Budapest, Hungary. We were looking for a flag shop from which to buy Hungarian flags (our “task” for the day) and happened to walk past. Since it wasn’t in any guidebook we couldn’t have “planned” a visit.

God, my parents are so anal. Every trip we took in our RV when I was a kid was planned and budgeted to within an inch of its life. They planned out the mileage, gas budget, menus, schedule – everything. I remember when we went to Texas, we got to Galveston one evening and were supposed to (maybe) take a swim in the Gulf of Mexico in the morning before leaving to head back north after lunch. I was so excited – I’d never been in the ocean before! But my little sister wet her sleeping bag, and we had to go and do the laundry instead. By the time we got done, it was time to go. Goodbye Gulf of Mexico. I have yet to swim in the ocean.

I’m with Hello Again – make sure you see the can’t-miss stuff, but be open to the unexpected.

(Another illustration of why I will never vacation with my parents again: Last year they ended up in New Orleans. My mom got brave and took a bus into the French Quarter and went walking around (while my dad stayed at the campground, the poop). Know where she ate lunch and dinner? Subway and Taco Bell. AAAUUUGGGHHHH!!! I would KILL to have a meal in the Fench Quarter! She didn’t even stop in at a coffee shop for a sandwich or a pastry!!)

Mr. Ujest and I are the “wing it” kind of people. But we usually do have an objective.

When we decide to go someplace, say London, we talk about the things we really want to see. He makes a list, I make a list and then we compare. If there are any matches, we do those things.

One vacation my goal was to see seals and otters (not in a zoo)His was to roller blade.
(This was N. Cal.) we did both. Seals and otters along the PCH drive and roller blading in Pacific Grove/Carmel and Monteray with a cyber friend. Loads of fun. Everything else after that just put us into the bonus round.

I more or less let it flow, but I have to at least plan the city/town I plan on staying the night in… I hate not making Hotel reservations and then finding out there is no vacancy when I arrive.

Our vacations usually involve cruising in our boat. We’ll make an itinerary and reserve space in marinas, but we’ve NEVER stuck with a plan all the way thru. We may stay an extra day in one place, or skip one altogether. And, of course, weather is always a factor.

We made the mistake of taking a couple of friends along once - she had serious mood swings and he liked to plan every second. (We didn’t know these things beforehand.) That’s when we decided that if we ever vacationed with someone else, there would be an upfront understanding that we were not to be joined at the hip.

Plans are made to be modified - I see them as general guidelines, not absolute requirements.

My god. How on earth could planning everything meticulously be defined as a vacation? That’s like the opposite of relaxing.

Depends on the vacation and time involved.

I am going to Costa Rica next week and I have no idea what I will be doing. All I know is we are renting a car, driving around, and surfing. Thats all the planning we need.

For me, meticulously planning a vacation is half the fun. I love reading guidebooks and looking at web sites and talking to people to find out what is available for doing. I have a vacation notebook (you’re probably about to call the men in the white coats) with a section for each day with a proposed schedule of activities. Also a rain plan. Also all the confirmation info for hotels, rental cars, etc. Also one of those plastic pockets so I can collect any brochures, business cards, etc. from the places we visit.

That said, I am very flexible when it comes to what we actually do. I just like having all the information at my fingertips. The thing that drives me nuts is when we realize too late that there is a museum that we would have wanted to visit. Or if we planned to go to the zoo on our last day of vacation and then it turns out the zoo is closed that day. Or if we arrive somewhere and quickly realize it sucks but don’t know what other alternatives are in the immediate area.

I’m headed to France for two weeks, leaving in 2 hours. All I have is a hotel in Paris and the phone numbers of two friends. This is unusual for me, I plan a lot before vacations, but this is kinda winging it.

I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Wing it, definitely. I’ll usually make reservations for the first night or two, but that’s about it.

The only time I really regretted this was while standing in line for the Uffizi gallery in Florence; it did occur to me that a quick phone call the day before would have saved an hour and a half of waiting. On the other hand, I got to have a very interesting conversation with a Japanese student who wanted to practice his English, whom I wouldn’t have met otherwise, so there’s still a lot to be said for serendipity.

A little of both, but more often than not I’ll wing it.

We have two kids, ages 5 and 2. Any plans we make pretty much go down the drain before we are even in the elevator of the hotel.

Example. We went to Disneyland (world? The one in Orlando) last October. We would be there seven days, so we decided to buy five days of park tickets. Ends up we only used three. The kids wanted to play in the pool at the hotel (which, admittedly, was more like a waterpark) Fortunately, Disney tickets never expire, so we can use them if we go there again.

Pre-kids, we usually did plan 1 or 2 things for the day, and would just see what happens.

I’ve been on vacations that were planned to the minute (a cruise and a bus tour of Great Britain) and ones a bit more free-form (Paris with a friend’s family). I vastly preferred the trip with my friend’s family.

Perhaps it was because they had been to Paris before, but they weren’t dead-set on seeing as much as possible in five days’ time. We had broad plans, such as seeing Notre Dame and the Louvre, but we weren’t frantic about it. It probably helped things that none of them are compulsive shoppers and so we didn’t end up hitting every gift shop in the city, as would have happened if I had been with my mom.

The bus tour was the antithesis of this. While it was convenient not to worry about transportation and accomodations each day and night, it was a pain in the ass not to be able to linger anywhere that caught our fancy. The first day, we left London late. Our time at Stonehenge was cut in half, because there was itenerary to follow and we had to get our full time at Hampton Court Palace. Not to knock Anne Boleyn’s garden, but I would have appreciated a chance to get closer to Stonehenge.

I was just working on a travel itinerary for a potential trip I’ll take in 2005, since I have everything earlier than that semi-planned already. I guess I’m in the “plan everything” category. I LOVE to travel and for me planning everything ahead of time is almost half the fun of going places. I’m not so anal as to decide on everything down to the hour, but usually I plan to at least the day, such as what city I’ll be in, how I will get there, and the top thing or two I want do at each place I stop at. (I don’t like to go to one place for a whole week or two, but much prefer vacations where I’m covering lots of territory). En route, I typically make a few modifications, but generally stick to what I’ve planned. Also, I prefer going to more obscure or difficult to reach destinations over the traditional tourist magnet cities and sites, so some forethough is often beneficial.

6 days is so short ! I’d plan most of it, knowing exactly what you want to get done, but leave some spare time for the interesting stuff that always crops up, unexpected, when on holidays

Well, it’s 6 days in one city (London). So no travel involved, only high-density touristry.

I’m in Delphica’s camp. My wife and I love spending the time looking at routes and tour books, figuring out, to the minute, what the best way to pack as much as possible into a day is, and writing it out, sticking to the plan as best as we can.

I will say, though, that the more kids we have, the more flexible we have to allow our plans to be. However, we actually plan the flexibility (i.e., we’ll write our itinerary as "do this if x, otherise do that), we don’t wing it.

I prefer a free-form approach to vacations. I’m trying to relax, I don’t want to fret about keeping some timetable. As an example, two years ago I took off on a two-week road trip, my only plan being to ride Millennium Force, the then newly-opened and world’s tallest roller coaster (over 300 feet!) at Cedar Point in Ohio. I drove up there from Florida with no other plans, reservations, or anything.

Wow. I usually don’t even touch the guidebooks until my plane takes off. I make hotel reservations for the first few days of the trip, but after that I’m on my own. If I made elaborate plans, I’d feel like I was working, and I’d get all upset when they (inevitably) didn’t work out.