I have a shameful secret – I hate travel planning.
It’s strange for a Type A frequent traveler to admit that I don’t like travel planning, but it’s true.
As a travel blogger, my street credibility rides on having an interesting trip, every time. I *need* to know the best inside information about every city I visit.
And yet, I love nothing more than showing up and just going with the flow. Sure, I like knowing that I’m enjoying fun activities, visiting the coolest restaurants and bars, and finding the best off the tourist route shops. But sometimes I just want to show up and explore, no plans in place. I often find some of my most awesome finds by NOT following the advice of guidebooks or fellow bloggers.
But when visiting off-the-beaten path places or taking special trips, travel planning is a necessity, not a nicety. And thus I’m forced to do my due diligence, whether I like it or not.
Next month, I’ll embarking on a twelve-night Seabourn cruise – “Gems of the Java Sea” – which will yield a few travel firsts for me. Those include several new ports including a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites, my first Pollywogs & Shellbacks line crossing, and several special five-star experiences.
I’m excited – and plan to write about all of it here – but also nervous that I might miss something, as not all of my ports are places I might easily return to in the future.
At the same time, it’s also my vacation from my 9-to-5 job, so relaxation is high on my list of priorities. I have a few “must see” at all cost items – sunrise at Borobudur, the. Komodo dragons, a line crossing ceremony – but I need to temper that with plenty of downtime. In other words, I can’t do it all – nor do I want to!
I also feel like I’ve got a lot of flexibility in some ports – I’ve done both Denpasar and Singapore many times already, so the tourist experiences are “over” for me and I want to revisit my favorite food haunts and shop. I am adept at researching both transport options in Indonesia as well as short excursions anywhere. I’m even on the hunt for free tours, just in case something new has sprung up.
So I’m presently in spreadsheet mode – taking notes on details, bookmarking sites to read, noting remarkable restaurants and shops, researching local transport, and planning my packing list (with special attention to photography and connectivity, just for my readers).
I’m early into my data entry mode as I have lots of reading to slog through, but I feel relieved to know that I’ve got tours already arranged in three of the eight cities I’ll visit and rough plans for my embarkation and disembarkation ports.
It’s also a huge burden removed that I have my initial flight reservations set (important, since I leave in 22 days!) Cathay Pacific First Class will be the absolutely worst I do at this point, so there is nothing to do but improve upon my itineraries.
What about you? Do you love or loathe travel planning?
And more important, do you have any “must do” things for Jakarta, Surabaya, or Probolinggo?! Please share in the comments below!