"I love spontaneity as long as it's carefully planned!"
Travelling light requires a bit of organisation... I quite possibly took this quite a step further...
I had thought that my solo trip to Europe would be a bit like a dandelion seedling floating thru the air at the whim of the air currents. However there was far too much organization, spreadsheets, bookings and lists for this to EVER be the case.
My husband complained that by the time I went away, I would’ve spent more time planning, googling, booking and talking about the trip, than I actually spent away. But hey, planning is half the fun, and it meant I got two holidays for the price of one! Now that's what I call value for money.
Oh, and then I got to talk about it when I got home... currently if I start any conversation with "when I was in China" he gets that far away look, "OMG, here she goes again"
Hours of research had me find this gem of a village high in the hills above the Cinque Terre.
Did someone mention spreadsheets???
Anyway... I really got into spreadsheets while planning my first solo trip.
There were days planned out with the must-see places, bus schedules, links to websites, costs, accommodation details, transport costs and times. As one can imagine there is a whole sheet on the contents (and weights) of my bag!
I even had details of when ships were in port, how many there were and the passenger numbers! Believe me, this was actually handy to know that there were two cruise ships in Amalfi with 5000 passengers each, three ships in Sorrento, and three bigger ones in Naples - all of which feed 1000's of passengers onto the Amalfi Coast... that day I headed for a track in the hills. I was safe there.
Some unsuspecting friends have since asked me for tips on places to see and things to do. The nice version is my long-winded diary. The mind-boggling version is my spreadsheet.
I think you might get the picture here of my love for planning!
Planning my trip was half the fun!
I loved searching out the route I would take, how I would get there, where I would stay, what I would do once there. The options were endless. I loved reading other people's thoughts on areas. Trip Advisor was a huge wealth of information.
And every little detail got noted on THE SPREADSHEET. Seriously, this spreadsheet took on a life of its own!
I met travellers who had booked their flight and booked two nights accommodation... from there they were winging it. I sort of felt envious of their freedom, but I had 30 days to explore three regions and there was way too much to see and do to leave it to chance.
Plus, travelling by myself for the first time since 25 years earlier and being a responsible parent (yes, one that left her two teenagers home with their Dad), I needed to be contactable and traceable. Seriously, if they'd woken at 2am back home they could've seen I was on a boat from Procida to Naples - such was the attention to details.
Escaping the crowds on the Amalfi Coast.
Now, with my spectacular plan, I knew well ahead of time that the tiny town of Amalfi was about to have a number of cruise ships in over the week that I was there. I knew how many ships and how many passengers they carried. So I headed for the hills!
I have a theory that a lot of travellers don't go far off the beaten track. By far, I mean about 500m. Walk for 10 minutes in an obscure direction and you will have left the masses behind.
The picture below almost looks like I photoshopped the ship into the scene. But seriously it is completely real.
No optical illusion here! That's one massive cruise ship in Amalfi.
At another top cruise ship destination I was in Korcula in the Dalmatian Islands. This picturesque town is a miniature version of Dubrovnik's walled city. When I left at 10am in the morning the town was heaving with tourists. The walls were literally bursting at the seams.
So I hired an e-bike and had the most magical day exploring the island and it's very remote beaches - most of which I had all to myself. When I got back at 4pm Korcula town was deserted.
Korcula, Dalmatian Islands - 4pm and not a tourist in sight.
My customised tour for one!
One of the great things though, was that because I'd done all the planning I could literally sit back and enjoy the ride. I didn't need to spend hours at night or on trains searching for my next destinations accommodation and things to do. Instead I spent my evenings chatting with others, writing my diary, and on the train, more chatting, and gazing out the windows at the view as the scenery sped by at 360km/hr.
Even with a tightly planned schedule there was still room for changes. In Amalfi, I'd visited the stunning town of Ravello, high in the hills. I loved it so much I went back a few days later - and I needed a break from all the walking I had done. And if someone suggested a must-do in the area I was free to change my plans and go and explore.
Inadvertently I'd actually planned a "customised tour for one!
Are you a planner or a drifter while travelling? Or abit of both?