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Old 04-17-2012, 10:32 AM
Location: Sunshine Coast, BC
10,791 posts, read 7,691,830 times
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I'm a planner when it comes to our trips and I'd not change that. I have a lot of fun doing the research and pre-booking. I've learned a lot about a destination's history and culture. I don't obsess about every minute or hour of each day but I do research what's along the journey and at the destination. We've had tremendous fun on our planned trips.

There is always room for flexibility, to not see something we'd planned on but we don't like just getting some place with no idea of what's there. Too great a chance of missing a must-see or must-do. And from our experience, we've ended up being disappointed 'just winging it', as we paid too much for so-so accommodation or meals, only to find out later that there was something much better just around the corner. Of course, we've ended up with the odd nice surprise too but when you're watching your money and want to get the maximum out of your budget, we find pre-planning has a better success & satisfaction rate.

In Santa Fe, I got the idea we'd pay a fair amount for accommodation but through research I found a cute studio apartment for $79/night - about half the price for just a regular room elsewhere. In Italy, through a lot of pre-planning and research, I found us great private apartments right in the middle of the historical districts for very good value. I wouldn't have found those just wandering the streets as the owners lived elsewhere and could only be contacted via email and phone. In Esperance, Western Australia, we ended up at a horrible campsite (just winging it) where we were packed in like sardines and heavy trucks on the road next to the campsite woke us up at 5am. Borrowed a camper's Lonely Planet Guide, read about some amazing campsite about 30 miles away, on a dirt road. It certainly was amazing and well worth the extra drive - quiet, spacious, cheap, with the most gorgeous unspoiled scenery that we hadn't known about beforehand.
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Old 04-17-2012, 12:17 PM
Location: Bella Vista, Ark
72,027 posts, read 83,705,236 times
Reputation: 41816
Originally Posted by fibonacci View Post
and arriving to your destination with no plans I find is much more relaxing and fun. Why does every single restaurant you try in a new city have to be rated on Yelp or in some travel magazine or guide? Where is the sense of adventure? I can't stand traveling with people that have a set agenda X that has to be reached in Y amount of days in a new country. Nothing is fun about traveling at break neck speed so that you can get all of the items on an itinerary in before you have to leave. I'd much rather walk around and site see/people watch and wander into some hidden back alley pub that they've been serving beers at for 500 years than going from A to B to C in a foreign country staring at boring painting after painting, church after church, or main square after main square. How about wandering off of the beaten path?
very interesting. I still want to have some plans in mind, but like the fun of just doing whatever appeals to us that day or night. I used to spend, literally months planning our vacations and would buy 3,4 or more travel books as well as magazines. Now I do some research on line, make notes, sometimes print things out, but I haven't even seen a travel book for years.

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Old 04-17-2012, 12:26 PM
Location: New York City
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I can understand foregoing guide books, but sites like Yelp are invaluable. If you only have a couple of meals in a location, you want to make sure they're good.
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Old 04-17-2012, 12:33 PM
Location: Eureka CA
8,264 posts, read 11,130,236 times
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I'm a big believer in guidebooks but also in leaving unplanned days in the itinerary. My habits were formed on my first trip to Ireland when my bf and I were driving through a DELUGE of rain to our reserved room at a B&B near Cork. This was before I had a cellphone so we were looking for a phone to call the B&B and let them know we'd be late. Finally we came to a town (a crossroads really) with a pay phone. We waited in the car while half a dozen people frantically called around for lodgings and had to settle for what was left. This is particularly sad in Ireland where the B&B's are price-controlled and you pay as much for a lousy B&B as for a stupendous one. Yes, I'm a planner.
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Old 04-19-2012, 02:06 AM
Location: Tucson/Nogales
17,417 posts, read 21,263,654 times
Reputation: 24246
Wherever I travel to, I will pre-book the first night's stay, and that's it! What fun would that be, book all my other rooms in advance, and come across a great town, along the way, and wish to spend a few more days there, or the rest of my time there, and then have to cancel the others?

I usually take a Lonley Planet guide along, avoid the touristy areas, and you'll find some inadvertent tips in those books, like: most tourists simply avoid this town. And how many times did I travel to one of these towns, be the only tourist there, and found some reason(s) to enjoy it.

If my decision was a major screw-up, who cares! I always travel with books, so in that case, just cuddle up with a book until the bus leaves the next morning!
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Old 04-19-2012, 02:40 AM
Location: Australia
8,036 posts, read 2,820,734 times
Reputation: 38559
Living in Australia, it's a long way to anywhere - so I generally take multi-destination trips. I might spend a while in Japan, then travel to Europe and then to the US before coming home. I'm certainly not going to cart three or four travel guides around since travelling light is very important to me - my luggage rarely weighs more than about 20 lbs even for long trips!

Before travelling I read the guides (plus check things via the internet, talk with friends, etc.) and make notes about the sights I want to see, cheap hotels, live music venues, bus/train details and so on, which I then print out, usually on one or two sheets of paper.

I love to just wander around, sit at pavement cafes and watch the people - but at the same time don't want to miss anything that I might enjoy, so prior research is important. I don't usually bother with restaurant reviews, relying on locals to provide that info when I'm there.
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