There is a delicate balance to planning a trip: under-plan and you might miss out on things you really wanted to do, over-plan and you’re apt to drive yourself crazy trying to accomplish everything. While there certainly is a benefit to creating a plan for your vacation activities, scheduling too many things to do and see is a sure-fire way to turn your relaxing trip into a stress-fueled nightmare. I’ll admit, I have a tendency to be a bit overzealous when it comes to making my vacation to-do lists, which can lead to a lot of running around and not a lot of enjoying the city I’m visiting. I learned the hard way what over-planning does to a trip once I arrive. Case in point: Washington, D.C. I booked my plane ticket two months before I was due to leave, so I had plenty of time to read D.C. travel blogs and compiled a two page, unedited, intimidating list of things to do and see while I was there.
Perhaps if I had more than three days to work with, this wouldn’t be a problem, but as it stood, I was working with a pretty limited time frame. As a result, I spent most of my time in D.C. running from museum to monument to restaurant and back again. So much so that when I finally retired to my hotel room each night, I passed out early from pure exhaustion. I put so much pressure on myself to do everything, see everything and eat everything, that I was more exasperated than excited, which isn’t really the desired emotion during vacations. I don’t mean to say that I didn’t enjoy my time in D.C., I really did! I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to explore this new city, and there were plenty of great moments during the trip. However, on the flight back home, I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed in myself for not enjoying it at a more leisurely pace. I missed out on a couple of things that I was really hoping to do simply because there were so many other things. That’s crazy, right? Travel should be freeing and exciting, not make you feel like you’re still at work. It was a hard/expensive lesson to learn but I’m glad I can move forward from it. The silver lining is, now I can work on not doing that again. For future trips, I will make my to-do lists more curated to my interests.
How do you plan your trips? Do you make to-do lists or just go with the flow?