Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Vacation: Plotting v. Exploring

While I preemptively tackled my primary vacation inhibitor, achieving instead of playing, I easily escaped the snare of the second vacation squelcher.  Over-planning.

Let me clarify.  First, I'm not your backpack-it type of vacationer, but I do like investing extra time into packing--striking the balance between thorough and light.  Secondly, preparing travel food and securing overnight housing seems vital to a comfortable trip.  Some planning makes vacations more relaxing.  Over-planning takes organizational preparations to the extreme.  Perhaps it would be better defined as plotting.

Not getting lost in Cardiff, Wales a few years back.
Plotting.  Like that time before I visited to Chicago.  I read three travel books, photocopied pertinent sections, created my own information packet, and developed a personalized must-see list of attractions.  I hustled around the city while Husband attended a conference.  Each night over dinner I rambled about my sightseeing until exhaustion seeped into my veins like an invisible sedative IV-drip.  

Since our recent mini-vacation took place in an familiar location, I'm more of a "seasonal" than a "tourist."  Without thinking, I know where to go and what to do, come sunshine or storm.  (In case of hurricane: go home.)  I navigate the town without a map.  I even know the areas I don't know.

And this is where exploring begins.  Besides leaving ample time to relax, vacations ideally flaunt a touch of adventure.  Like randomly choosing a restaurant, perhaps ordering an unusual menu offering.  Or, wandering down a quiet side street only to be amazed at the vibrant, fully-restored Victorian Era houses.  Or, eating lunch on a boardwalk bench so you can watch tourists parade by in garish--in stunning--beach attire while catching hints of accents.

A random street.
Sometimes adventures turn into the travel stories we love to retell--the hidden cathedral in a nondescript English village, the hung-over Scotsman who entertained us with his life story for hours on a train, the public art too new to be documented by the travel guide.  Sometimes adventures are a quieter type of discovery, something stories and photographs can't convey.  Both are worth leaving plotting behind and exploring.

Do plot your vacations? Or, do you explore--ready or not?


  1. Funny -- I just plotted my Philly trip coming up this weekend. I know what I'm bringing for lunch on Sunday, I found six cheap restaurants that got great reviews (I had to look for a variety, since we'll be with friends and we're not sure what they like for dinner), and I perused different activities we can do in the afternoon. I like have options without schedules.

  2. Knowing a few options can be helpful. I just have a tendency to turn options into must-sees!

    Enjoy your Philly weekend. If you get in the food mood or the weather turns rainy, you could always browse the Reading Terminal Market.