Detailed Plans or Open to Adventure?

When you go on a trip, do you pre-plan every detail in advance, or do you leave the schedule wide-open and make it up as you go?

We’ve tried it both ways, and have actually settled on more of a blended approach!

We nearly missed out completely on getting to tour the Vatican when we were in Rome because, it turned out, most of the best tours were actually booked up weeks in advance. (Cue slight moment of pending disappointment…) But, it worked out in the end! A little extra digging, and we discovered there was a well-reviewed early-morning tour by the same outfit that had two openings on the day after we arrived in Rome. It wasn’t the first one we would have picked since it started at 7 am, and we aren’t early birds, but we were SO glad once we got started! Getting in an hour before it opened to all visitors turned out to be amazing. So much room, and not too hot…yet! By noon, when the tour ended, the crowds were crushing, and the heat was oppressive. So, that one worked out really well!

[pb_slideshow group=”18″]

Another tour we wanted to do didn’t turn out so well. In fact, it didn’t happen at all. I have always had a fascination with Pompeii, and really wanted to make a day trip out of Rome to go down and visit it. We even booked it with one outfit online, but something went very awry with it, and it never actually got set up. We had to apply to get a refund on our credit card, even…which we did get, thankfully. In the end, we had a wonderful time in Rome for the week, but never made it to Pompeii.

Guess what? I’m now campaigning for a return to Italy, only to focus more on the Naples/Pompeii/Amalfi Coast area! That would be quite alright. 🙂

Our recent trip to Maui? We didn’t plan a single thing other than our condo, car rental, and our first night’s dinner out. And, you know, it turned out well. We rested. We watched the thunderstorms (two days of them!). We went for long walks on the beach. We went to the Sugar Museum on one of the really stormy days. We walked all over Old Lahaina and had lunch on the beach on one of the nice days. We left without going whale watching other than from the shore (yes, we saw them, several times!), or trying stand-up paddling (on my bucket list), or snorkelling, or driving to Hana (still haven’t done that, even after four trips to Maui, go figure) — all things we imagined we’d do this trip but didn’t arrange in advance, so they didn’t happen. But we rested. Which we needed.

Our next trip, to South Carolina and Florida? We’re going to go see my brother and my nephew, whom I have not seen in many, many years! And Jeff found a seriously cool event with one of the now-retired guys in charge of countless spaceship launches, so we’ve already got tickets for that event at the Kennedy Space Centre. I can’t wait!

But now I’m wondering: should we pre-plan the rest of our time there, or leave the rest open? Want to get the maximum mileage out of our trip as it’s intended to be a discovery trip versus a rest-and-recovery trip, but sometimes the best discoveries happen at the last minute, and we’ve learned there’s a lot to be said for flexibility. On the other hand, doing it that way sometimes means missing out altogether…

What would you do?