While trying to think of what I would write for my first real post, I kept going over where to start. Should I start with packing tips? Or budgeting? Or maybe choosing a destination? How does a person get started on preparing to travel, anyway??
And then I had the thought: go back to where it begins. Give the simple advice first. My simple advice starts with a question.
What kind of traveler are you?
Seriously. What kind of traveler are you? Are you the kind of person who can’t stand to do anything by a schedule or itinerary? Or do you have to have a plan? How detailed does your itinerary need to be for you to feel comfortable and confident?
Figuring out what kind of traveler you are can really help you in the planning stages. It will help you figure out how early you need to buy tickets, how much research you need/want to do, what kind of timeline you need or want, and will help you make decisions. If you’re the kind of person who can leave on a whim and likes doing it that way, then great! That’s all well and good, as long as you can feel comfortable and confident in traveling that way.
I’m the kind of traveler who needs some kind of itinerary, some kind of plan, in order to travel well. I need some idea of where I’m going to be at what time on which day in order to enjoy myself. Not that I have to have everything planned out down to the minute–that’s a bit much–but I need to have an idea of whether I’m going to see Westminster Abbey on Thursday or if I’m going to go to Greenwich on Thursday.
Figuring out how much planning you need to do beforehand and what level of planning you’re going to want on your trip will go a long way to relieving some of the stress that can go with traveling. It will also help you relax. Remember, if you’re traveling for pleasure, then you want to enjoy yourself! If you show up in a new place with the intention of just winging it when you’re the kind of person who needs a plan, then you’re not going to have much fun, are you? You’re not going to be able to get around with much confidence. On the flip side, if you’re the kind of person who works best when doing things on a whim, then going with a regimented itinerary would not work best for you. You would probably get very frustrated and bored if you tried to stick to it.
The ideal is to have the best of both worlds, with enough planning to give some structure but enough leeway in the plan for some spontaneity. Sadly, many of us don’t quite work that way!
So figure out what kind of traveler you are!