Holiday planning – the new competitive sport » KathSwinbourne

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May 03 2013

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Holiday planning – the new competitive sport

Boy-running-sunset-DarwinHow long does it take you to plan a holiday?

Despite my work background as a planner, in my own life I’m the perennial “non-planner”, at least I thought I was until I met Helen – my Two Sheilas in a Ute travelling companion. She’s so laid back that her first call to me about our first trip started with “Where are we going again?”

Our last Two Sheilas in a Ute trip to Broken Hill took three weeks from the time we said “Let’s go to Broken Hill”, to the time we were on the road. In that time we worked out our major stops, a draft route and a basic timeline, and got the ute serviced. Well, when I say “got the ute serviced” I mean Doc did the planning on what we would need and then did all the work!

I looked up a few places and attractions on the internet, but that was it.

I’d say it’s because I’m driving my own car, in my own country, and just stopping wherever I want, but even doing that I meet people who have been planning their trip for months – even years. One couple we met on the Old Tele Track take a big holiday (driving and camping) every 18 months. As soon as they get back they start planning the next one.

A quick google search of “holiday planning” comes up with 445,000,000 hits – many of them people who will plan your holiday for you. And I’m not just talking about travel agents who will book your flights and accommodation. I’m talking planning your whole holiday – working out what you should see, telling you what to pack, and making all arrangements. You end up with an itinerary that has all your time planned for you, down to when you can have a drink by the pool of the resort!

When I was in my early 20s I backpacked around South-East Asia. I left home with a round the world ticket, first stop Hong Kong for a pre-booked tour of China. Booking a tour was the only way to visit China in those days, so it had to be booked. Other than that, I had nothing. I landed in Hong Kong at 9pm, as a 23 year old female who had never left the country before. No accommodation, no friends, nothing. That was a culture shock!

I used the second leg of the ticket to get to London, but after it snowed in London on 1 April I decided to head back to Asia. I spent 18 months backpacking on my own and only came back because my sister was getting married.

How did I do it? I don’t know, but I not only survived it, I had a great time!

I was a bit more organised when I had three kids to take. Then I would at least book some accommodation.

A couple of weeks ago I had a tweet come up on my newsfeed  that said “I can’t be the ONLY one who makes a travel itinerary on a spreadsheet right? Right? “

How long does it take you to plan a holiday-2

My response, and that of somebody else almost simultaneously was “Uh, yes, I think you are.” I added in “How do you factor spontaneity into a spreadsheet?”  This elicited the response “You obv don’t factor spontaneity into a ss. Cuz it’s not spontaneity if it’s factored for”.

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Obviously, and that was my point. How do you factor spontaneity if everything is planned to the nth degree? Or don’t you?

Since those tweets, and as a result of my planning my next trip away (Uluru, leaving in 2 weeks with a sort of route map drafted), I’m beginning to think that intensive planning of holidays is more the norm than kicking back and relaxing. It almost seems that for some people having a holiday has become almost like work – making sure you cram as much in as possible and don’t miss any of the major sites. Maybe they could make a realitiy TV show “Survivor – the Holiday Edition”.

While I don’t suggest my almost complete lack of planning and flying (or driving) by the seat of my pants would suit everybody, surely holidays are a time to stop and smell the roses?

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