I’m a planner. Always have been, always will be. I make lists, plans, charts, and organize everything to an (almost) OCD level. It’s how I keep my brain sorted, and how I make sure that I get everything done.
I’m no different when I plan for traveling. I have a journal in which I write all my travel details, a ‘Travel To Do List’ on the fridge, and print all my booking confirmations, boarding passes, maps, and receipts, keeping them sorted in my ‘travel’ folder. I always highlight the important details on these (often crowded) pages, such as check-in times, confirmation numbers, and any requirements we must fulfill before checking in (ie. confirm your booking 24 hours ahead of time). Also, just because I love it, I make calendars to map out my travel months (as well as putting it in my planner), and color code everything. Everything. My highlighters and colored pens are by best friends. Yes, I am indeed a loser. But I love being organized more than I really give a shit.
I also do my best to look up the top places we’d like to go, in our various destinations. For example, we’re going to London in a few weekends, and have made a plan for our days. There are a million and a half things to do in London, so we plan out each day to make the most of our time there. In order to make our time there as simple as possible (and to leave as much time as possible for actually doing fun stuff, we book as much as humanly possible online ahead of time. Things like admission tickets, train and bus tickets, and registering for events can often be done ahead of time, at a usually discounted price. In order to decide what we want to do, we look at a ton of reviews online. But, more important than reviews (everyone has a different opinion!) is the idea that we need to do what we really want to do. We just think to ourselves, “where are the places that we would regret not going?” There are so many options we have in this world, that you need to pick what is right for you. I, personally, love museums and history, so I could spend days and days inside these amazing places, while others may love tasting as many foods as they can, or going to the major touristy attractions. But, one thing that I always try to do (which can be hard, when you’ve planned everything so meticulously) is to go off book. Did I really just say that? If your plan for the day was to go to Destination A, but on the way, you spot a lovely little farmers market, unlike anything you have at home, don’t be afraid to stop. Check it out. Sometimes off book can give you the best memories.
A couple days before I leave, I check that I didn’t miss any confirmations or check-ins, then I make my packing lists. I make one to check off when leaving, and one to bring with me to make sure I haven’t left anything behind. There’s one of my secrets, by the way, lists. I have about 200 lists. Lists for stuff to pack, places to go, expenses paid and outstanding, and things to bring back.
So that’s my pre-travel planning routine. When I travel, I bring my handy dandy ‘travel’ folder (this year it’s hot pink!) whenever we go on our way. There is absolutely nothing worse than showing up somewhere and realizing you left your confirmation at home. Then, while we’re away (having an awesome time) I take as many pictures as possible. I take pictures of signs, of people, of places, of things I’ve never seen before. I take pictures of our food, of our favourite restaurants and cafés, and of our daily adventures. Along with my pictures, I collect things. Business cards, menus, tickets, booking slips, and anything else that was important to our time away. Then, when we get back home, I make pages in our travel journal and paste all these things in. There’s nothing nicer than looking back, years down the line, and seeing the original plane tickets you used for your adventures, and knowing how to find that one cafe that you both loved in Paris.
Planning for travel can be daunting. You have to book accommodation (and read a million reviews to find the perfect place), book flights, book transfers from airports into city centers, figure out how you’re going to get around once you get there, and plan your attractions. I conquer this daunting task by being as organized as possible and having it all planned out. So when there’s a bump in your travels, you see it as an adventure.