Vacation Time: Forethought & Planning vs. The Free Spirit

It’s here: the final countdown to our trip across the US Southwest. Before the month ends, we’ll be on the other side of the country, road-trippin’ and hiking our way through golden aspens, other-worldly rock formations, and the grandest of all canyons.

You can definitely call me excited, but am I prepared? I’ve been pecking away at a couple of detailed lists: first, a plan of our hikes that spells out length, difficulty, and other pertinent notes, and second, a list of restaurants and the like that – through researching blogs and reviews – seem  worth seeking out. And while I do so, I often wonder if such a level of planning is, ahem, “normal” and, more thoughtfully, if my doing so essentially kills all possible spontaneity. I mean, this is our precious vacation time, our one, brief window of freedom from 50+- weeks of already-structured obligation.  Can’t we just go on our whimsical, free-spirited way, and just, well, wing it?

But back to this being our brief window of freedom, because that’s just it — without some semblance of a plan and/or list of options, you’ll wind up wasting precious minutes (DURING vacation) trying to research how you should best spend your time. I’ve learned from experience that a little forethought on items important to you (whether museums, hikes, restaurants, or whatever) helps maximize your freedom.  Otherwise, you and your significant other will stand on a street corner in Paris, alternating between bickering and blank stares, because you can’t decide where to eat. For 30 minutes.

So our two weeks will have pages on pages of options, but actually few true obligations. If our feet are killing us from the many hikes (did I mention that we’re not quite PHYSICALLY prepared??), then maybe we’ll stick with driving tours for a day, or book that Jeep tour company that I’ve noted on my list. Or if we bump into a local who recommends a restaurant that I failed to discover, then by all means we’ll do that instead! I guess my point is this: if your time is limited, you’ll maximize your use of it with a little documented, advance planning, but don’t treat it as some sort of vacation religious text.

I guess I’ll finish up that restaurant list now that I’ve rationalized my inner free spirit into a dark corner…. 😉

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