Trip Planning: Now or Later?
Are you the type that likes to make travel plans far in advance? I am. And I’ve got it bad too. I’m always planning a trip, especially after I get back from a trip. In fact, I have travel plans all the way through March 2013 (I know, I know): (1) The Passport Party Project‘s nationwide tour gifting girls with their very first passports has 9 more cities to hit within the next 18 months; (2) My travel camp program for girls will be going to the US Virgin Islands, Hawaii and Lake Tahoe in 2012 and possibly even Martha’s Vineyard if I can fit in a scouting trip in early 2012; and (3) I take a month-long holiday to Paris every November and then play concierge to those who want to come on over and hang out like a local for 10 nights. And that’s not even counting another two adult travel events I’m planning (one of which is another adult luxury camping weekend) or the conferences I want to go to like SXSW, Hispanicize, WDS, TBEX, BlogHer, Blogalicious, WTM, blah blah blah. And we haven’t even covered potential press trips or the personal 2012 trips I want to take to Belgium, Brazil and the BVIs to go sailing. (There’s more, but I’m just making myself crazy.) But just think about all of those mileage points I’m going to rake in! #PointsAddict
But even with all of those trips planned far in advance, I’m a spontaneous traveler too! In fact, I took several unplanned trips this year, and while they were short, they were all a blast! In addition, I don’t typically plan out in detail what I’m going to do once I get where I’m headed; I just go with the flow so-to-speak. Which leads me to the subject matter of this post: The Pros and Cons of Planning Ahead. Is it better to plan ahead or is it better to be spontaneous? Here are some of the pros and cons I’ve come up with. See what you think…
1. Good deals. If you book far enough ahead, you’re likely to get a great rate!
2. Less stress on your pocketbook. You have time to make payments, save money, and/or earn miles from other sources to use for your trip.
3. Time to make arrangements. You can make the necessary arrangements far ahead of time (for pets, childcare, time-off, housesitting, excursions, etc.).
4. Time to do your due diligence. You can ask friends for hotel or apartment reviews/referrals, check hotel review sites like TripAdvisor and make the right decisions about accommodations.
5. Join me? If you’re traveling solo, there is time for a friend to decide to come along.
6. Time for changes. If you’re traveling with someone, there’s time for that person to bow out and send someone else in his/her place with minimum name change fees.
7. Preparation is key. You have time to buy what you need: A warm coat for cold weather, walking shoes, a new swimsuit, etc. Just don’t overdo it! See #4 below.
8. No middle seat. You can get your choice of airline seat.
9. For frequent fliers. You have a better chance of getting an upgrade.
10. Travel excitement. It’s exciting to have something to look forward to!
- Things change. If you plan too far ahead of time and something else comes up, you will have to pay airline/hotel penalties.
- There really are last minute deals. While you can typically get a good deal if you plan ahead (see #1 above), if you plan too far ahead of time & you haven’t done your due diligence, you might not get the best deal since airlines are so unpredictable these days and often come up with last minute deals just to sell more seats.
- Going it alone can cost. You might have to travel solo if you can’t find someone to go with you & single supplements are sometimes costly.
- Too much time to shop. In your excitement, there’s a tendency to buy too many things to take on your trip & you might end up overpacking or overspending before you even get there.
- Obssession. If you have even a smidgen of OCD, you’re going to obssess about the trip and drive your friends, family and co-workers – you know, the ones who aren’t going – crazy.
- Seconding guess yourself. You might second guess yourself and spend too much time trying to figure out if you got the best deal, should be going with/without your kids/spouse, should be taking off time from work, etc. (which is akin to OCD above).
- Time sneaks up on you. There might be a tendency to think that because there is so much time before the departure date to get yourself together (do you have a passport?) that you proscrastinate and wait until the last minute to do so and you end up unprepared.
- Visa issues…and not the credit card kind either. In some countries, the entry/exit requirements for a Visa are time-sensitive and it’s possible that if you aren’t tuning in to the timeframes that you could get your required Visa too early and it could expire in the middle of your trip. #hassle
- Missing out. You might will probably miss an event that is occurring during the same time as your trip.
- The fickle finger of fate. You might just change your mind entirely.
Currently, Tracey is planning her first online 30 Day Photo Challenge, but when she isn’t blogging, tweeting, Facebooking, retailing, traveling, or planning travel for herself or others, she is probably sleeping. Zzzzzzzz.