It’s a lot of work. And at times, it’s been totally exhausting.
Before a typical vacation, most people will spend a bunch of time researching the city, best areas to stay, hotel options, top restaurants and things to do. By the time you land, you feel like you’ve got a pretty good handle on the area and what you want to do/don’t want to do, so while you’re there you’re just enjoying.
Well, when you’re moving to a new city or country every handful of days, you’re c.o.n.s.t.a.n.t.l.y researching and planning. Or, you’re not doing it and then risking missing out on some awesome stuff.
Traveling with technology is a total double-edged sword. You definitely don’t want to spend all your travel time on your iPhone trying to figure out where to go, what to do or where to eat, but you also don’t want to spend a week in Hong Kong and realize that you missed amazing sights and dim sum simply because you didn’t take some time to know about them.
There have been some cities that we’ve thrown all research to the wind. Even being the planner I am, I’ve been content to explore on our own and accept that there’d be things we’d miss. But certain places, I’ve wanted to make sure we’re maximizing our time. Again, about the ROI.
I can’t tell you how much I’d love to have a personal travel concierge on-call. For emergencies only.
We’re good about 80% of the time, but sometimes it’d be so awesome to have a resource who knows exactly what we like, what we’re looking for and then could direct us to that neighborhood/local restaurant/hike/hotel.
To keep us sane, Danny and I will play rock-paper-scissors to divide tasks: you find a neighborhood and hotel in Hong Kong and I’ll figure out our travel options from Hoi An to Hanoi. Fair.
Yes, yes. The spontaneity and sense of discovery is much of what an on-the-fly trip is about, but “discovering” every day can be a little daunting. I’m not looking for everything to be planned & perfect. But sometimes you just want someone to tell you exactly what to do and not have to think about it or inevitably get lost trying to find it. It’s been those mentally exhausted moments that I miss home. The days you just want to be lazy and on autopilot and not have to think about anything (or everything).
And on top of having the energy to do the research, there’s finding time for it. Because when you’ve just landed and are discovering one city, it’s time to start planning the next. Like when we were in Hong Kong and realized it was Saturday and we had a flight to Bali on Monday morning and literally had no idea where on the Indonesian island we were going or staying. So we had to spend four hours of our precious time in Hong Kong in a café on the laptop trying to at least get a few nights in Bali sorted when you really just want to be exploring the city. Times like that. (And yes, the alternative is to land somewhere and figure it out which we’ve done but that can get tiring and become a waste of time real quick.)
On that note, a HUGE thank you to all our friends, family, travel friends and acquaintances who have stepped up with recommendations and suggestions for our destinations. You have no idea how much even the littlest tip can help eliminate hours of research and reassure us that we’re heading in the right direction. Your emails, FB posts, messages and Insta comments are like gold to us. Thank you!
LONGTERM TRAVEL TIP: If you’re planning an endurance trip, know that there is absolutely no way that you can plan it in advance – nor would you want to because flexibility is key. BUT, if there are certain places that you’ll def want to maximize, I’d highly recommend you start organizing notes that you can reference when you’re on the road. Put posts on Facebook way in advance to solicit suggestions and just jot them down. Write down names of the restaurants you heard about on No Reservations, read about on a food blog, or in NYTimes 36 Hours. Start Airbnb Wishlists or TripAdvisor saves with hotels that look interesting in the neighborhoods you think you’ll like. If you’re a hiker, start to identify the best ones in the areas you’re going. I promise that once you’re on the road, even a handful of notes will be precious.