I find researching a trip just as exciting as going there. Maybe it’s because I hate surprises and don’t like having a plan, but I truly do enjoy reading guidebooks, browsing the internet for advice, and watching episodes of the Amazing Race that feature the location I will be going to.
I know that many encourage others to just travel without a set plan and go ahead and discover what the country has to offer. And that’s a great thing because it really does expose you to the place you’re visiting in a whole new way. However, I just cannot see myself doing that.
Taking a vacation is something so sacred, as anyone may tell you. With a limited number of days off, you really want to make the most out of them- and I do not want to spend time trying to figure out how to navigate the transportation system or pointing out locations of interest when I can do in my downtime at home, on my comfortable couch. The last thing I want to do is stand at a bus stop or train station, wondering how I would get from point A to B, or trekking to a place only to find that it was closed, or eating at a place that might adversely affect my health.
I know that all of the above are parts of the going-abroad experience. But some of us just don’t romanticize them as others. We just want to relax, have fun, see new things, and enrich our knowledge. I would much rather, for example, spend time exploring a museum and learning more about the place’s history than try to go for the ultra-authentic experience.
That being said, I don’t usually travel with a fixed structure or a guided group. I usually have a mental list of what I would like to see and do (such as in Berlin where I really wanted to go to the Olympiastadion and the East Side Gallery) and see how the day is going. It does make for an interesting structure because it caters to how I’m feeling and how my energy levels are. It also means that if I want to stay in the hotel room and just call it a day, I can totally do that without a hint of guilty or fear of missing out.
So I’m feeling quite anxious that next week we’re going on a vacation, but we’re doing it with a travel agency, as part of a group. The itinerary has been set by someone I haven’t met and is packed with activities and sightseeing- meant to maximize the time we are in the country. We have little to no free time as this is really jam-packed.
Like I said, this is a departure for us (me especially). I haven’t even done much reading since everything is taken care of by the agents. But, with so little time and the fact that we weren’t expecting to travel again so soon, we chose this option, hoping to get some peace of mind. I hope we don’t end up more exhausted coming back given that we barely have time to unwind and great distances to cover.
Still, I’m excited. It will definitely be an adventure of a lifetime, even if it isn’t on my exact terms.