How we plan our Nomadic travelling life

Travel Planning

Last weekend we had our eldest son Shaun and his lovely wife Katie over to visit and spent the afternoon helping them plan their forthcoming trip to New Zealand. They are heading down under in a couple of months for their honeymoon so it’s all very exciting. As we’ve visited NZ a couple of times they asked if we’d help them with a few bookings and we were obviously delighted to be of assistance.

I’m not an expert but I do think that there are two main types of traveller.

Firstly, there are those that like to plan every detail, organise every journey, and book all of their accommodation in advance. So that once they begin their trip they can relax and just enjoy each day with the confidence that there is nothing left to do.

Secondly, there are those that enjoy the buzz of not planning and like to go where and when they choose. The fluidity of their travel is what makes it exciting for them.

There are travellers who may be a combination of the two I guess but most people fall in to one or other camp. We are definitely the first type of travellers as we like nothing more than sitting down and meticulously planning our travelling adventures. In fact we almost enjoy the planning stage as much as the actual trip, almost.

Travel Planning

How do we decide where to go next?

We are usually booked up around six months ahead with a mixture of housesitting, helpxing, and travelling so any future trips are always organised well in advance. Our location decisions seem to come organically through just chatting and being together. We are always talking about where in the world we could go or would like to visit and often somewhere just jumps out of those discussions.

Our trip to Krakow in Poland was exactly one of those situations where we had mentioned going several times and then suddenly we just decided it was time to organise it. Obviously our budget comes into play at times like this so we are careful about how many trips and how grand they turn out to be but because we enjoy the planning stage so much it does make everything cheaper.

Travel Planning

Enjoying the Planning Stage

When we were planning our initial JWalking escape back in 2015 we actually had 9 months of travel to organise and because of the way that we like to work we had to do everything before we left. That means every single nights accommodation for our trips to Europe, Australia and New Zealand, around 284 nights away in total, had to be researched and booked (and paid for unfortunately). Also, every journey had to be organised which included over 15 flights, multiple coach trips, train journeys, ferries, car hire, and much much more. Sounds stressful doesn’t it and I have to admit at one stage early on I was concerned that there was just too much to do. But Jo did as she always does and made everything better by simply telling me to just do one task at a time. Obvious really but sometimes you need to be told don’t you?

It all got sorted before we left and the rest is JWalking history. After that initial hiccup we absolutely loved the excitement of organising our epic trip. We still do. In fact, I think we enjoy working together on future travel plans more than anything else. After Shaun and Katie had left last week we both remarked how much fun we’d had helping them plan and book their honeymoon.

Travel Planning

How do we plan our trips?

Well a rough idea of where and when we’re going starts us off. Our favourite types of trip are where we organise every aspect ourselves with each night and each day being completely open to what we want to do. It sort of works like this;

  • Decide on the location and the date we want to start the trip (Google Maps)
  • Decide on when the trip will end and where we will be returning to
  • Rough plan of trip including number of nights in each place and how we’re travelling between locations
  • Book any flights (Skyscanner, Kayak and Expedia for comparisons, individual airlines for booking)
  • Research locations on Airbnb initially then Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia
  • Book trains, coaches, car hire etc as required

None of these tasks is allocated to either of us specifically, we both get involved in every step so it’s a real team effort. It’s strange how the planning takes over though, we start fairly relaxed occasionally checking out the odd flight and the weather and before long we’re on it for hours on end researching like crazy. Great fun and a really important part of any trip for us.

Travel Planning

Budgeting

A major part of any planning operation has to be the budget. No-one has unlimited funds and we certainly have to be careful with our ever diminishing pot so the budget is pretty important. We never set an amount in advance for a trip or have a ceiling above which we won’t go but we are constantly aware of being careful and make a note of every penny we spend. We have fairly detailed spreadsheets where we record our expenses so we are always 100% on top of how we are living financially.

The more careful we are with our money, the longer we will be able to continue our vagabonding lifestyle.

Travel Planning

A lot of people ask if we use online travel planners or apps but we’re a bit old school and like to write stuff down. Jo has a daily diary that contains train times, overnight stay details, housesitting info, etc and I have a scruffy hand-drawn notebook that I record an overview of everything in. It works for us.

Future JWalking Plans

As I mentioned we are booked completely up until the middle of July with a variety of trips, a couple of housesits, and a couple of Helpx stays. Interspersed with that are short visits to see our three sons, family and a few friends so it looks like a busy six months or so. The trips are all arranged and booked, as is our way, and we’re looking forward to visiting a few brand new countries which we will tell you all about in due time.

Travel Planning

So what sort of traveller are you? Do you plan ahead or just go for it?

39 comments

  1. Enjoyed your post! In the past I was the ‘flip a coin to see if we go left or right’ type of traveller. But these days Liz and I have a planning strategy almost identical to yours. We are currently in the throes of planning a trip from NZ to Europe and UK with a compulsory stop in Las Vegas on the way back, and enjoying the process of working on each aspect together.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yup … so “get” this post – as Steve says – we are the in the first camp and absolutely love it – the researching – the anticipation of a trip is almost as good as being on it. I love it! Is your son and wife coming our way or mostly South Island?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Planning is almost as good as the trip sometimes. Our son is driving up from Wellington to Taupo then on to Rotorua so wont be making Napier. We tried to tell him how wonderful it was but they just didn’t have the time.

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  3. I’m definitely capable of being both depending on what style of holiday I’m after. For example, I spent 6 wks in Oz in 2017 which was mapped out and booked up every day but last year I had 3 weeks in the UK and Singapore which I had no plans whatsoever and just made it up as I went along. I’ve had such a mix of pre-planned and ‘winging it’ trips over the years.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Probably good to get a mix of different type of trips but you were very brave to just ‘go for it’ last year. Maybe we like to plan as there are two of us and its tougher to arrange last minute stuff for two.

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      • I actually stress one of my friends out because she’s very much a ‘book everything ahead/pack a week before’ kind of person whereas I come across far more disorganised, have turned up in places with no accommodation booked and tend to pack just hours ahead of a flight. Even when I have my whole itinerary planned like in Oz, she gets stressed on my behalf listening to the things I leave till last minute!

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  4. Great post. If we’re travelling international Woody does the travel and hotel research and booking while I find the points of interest. When caravanning we settle on a destination and Woody says ‘Surprise me’. Sometimes it works but can be infuriating like once half way up the WA coast I was swimming and the thought occurred that if I drowned there were 3 people who had no idea where they were or how to get home but geez they were having fun!

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  5. Normally I enjoy the planning stage too, Jonno, but I’m being very indecisive about this year so far. We have some family/friends visiting so I need to take control and organise the rest of the year- at least as far as Summer- but life is running me at the minute rather than the other way round. 🙂 🙂

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  6. We sit somewhere in the middle. We do plan ahead, especially travel and accommodation and we do some research before we get to a destination. But we also like to go to the tourist information centres to find out about hidden gems and places that aren’t so popular or well-known.

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  7. It’s interesting to read how meticulous you plan and so far ahead!! I suppose you have to really with the amount of travelling you do. You both seem very well organised! I look forward to reading about your up and coming travels and what new countries you will be visiting.

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    • Thanks Liz, we’re not too badly organised. Sometimes we feel as if we’d like to leave bookings a little later and just go with it but that doesn’t seem to work for us.

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  8. We plan well, but are notorious for changing plans at the last minute. We’d planned short travel days for our last road trip to Broome with every night a free camp carefully selected. We left Busselton early and arrived at our first planned stop not much after mid-day. The rain was terrential. Mmmm, sticking to the plan would have meant being huddled indoors away from the rain all afternoon, so we opted to keep going. That then made a hash of the rest of the planned stops. The planning’s still fun, but rarely do we stick to the plan.

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    • Sounds like you made the right decision. The morale of the story is probably that a mixture of planning and being able to adapt to situations is the way to go.

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  9. We are definitely planners. Up until last year Dave was working full time so vacation days were like gold. In fact we are so i nthe rhythm of planning trying to be more flexible seems to be a challenge for us. Your tips are excellent. I would ask if you have cancellation insurance for bigger trips in case of illness for yourselves or family members?

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  10. Just catching up on some of your recent posts! This was a great read and I agree with your points on how to plan for a trip. We usually start with a date, length of time and destinations. Then work out what we want to do in between. Sometimes I like being spontaneous but that’s not always possible! Planning it all is so much a part of the experience and i love the anticipation it brings. I like Jo’s advice of one step at a time as sometimes it can all get too overwhelming. I hope Shaun and Katie enjoy their honeymoon to NZ, it’s a great place to visit and much closer for us!! happy travels, always good to read what you’re up to and how you go about it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Deb. Jo is generally right about most things! We love planning big trips almost as much as going on them and its only a few weeks now until Shaun and Katies honeymoon so fingers crossed they’re ready and NZ will blow their minds like it did ours.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s blog catch up time! I liked this one a lot Jon. I am definitely on the side of the planning mentality, in life in general! I particularly liked the insight that you and Jo had the whole 9 months planned when you first left in 2015! Seems obvious really but I never thought of it like that. Keep up the good blogs 🙂

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