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