I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who feels that the planning of a vacation is almost, or sometimes more exciting than going on the trip itself. There’s so much more that’s involved with setting up the perfect trip. Even more so if you’re planning a trip using points and miles.
I’ve been planning our trip to Germany for close to a year and I’ve hit a milestone. All of our major travel plans are set. The last one happened earlier this week when the message I’d been hoping for showed up in my email at 11:42 PM (while I was asleep)
The last puzzle piece was finally in place.
- I booked flights to Germany on Singapore Airlines in Business class
- We’re set for flights home on Delta booked with Flying Blue miles
- I just booked our flight from Frankfurt to Salzburg with 8,000 United miles
- I got positioning flights to New York for 8,000 SkyMiles
- We’re booked at the TWA Hotel for our time in New York
- Thanks to our readers, I found a great hotel in Munich
- I used a great Virtuoso rep to help book our hotel in Salzburg
- I used a Marriott free night certificate to book a room in Frankfurt
We’re still over 4 months away from the trip and I don’t know what to do. Now, I’m sure there’s another trip, like our trip to Japan in 2020 to plan but that’s a little too far away to start right now.
Let me preface this by saying I come from a family of planners. My dad would make daily plans of what we were going to do on vacation. I totally bought into the idea until we’d totally scrap the plans halfway through the day and do something totally different. At the time, all my tween to teenage mind was thinking was:
It was never explained to me that most plans were actually suggestions. Unless we HAD to be there, everything was optional. When I finally figured this out, it was an eyeopener and changed the way I planned our vacations.
I research, not to make plans but to prepare options. When we have free time, what’s nearby that might be interesting? That’s pretty much how we did our entire trip to London and it worked out fine. I just need to let go and know whatever happens will happen. It’s a very zen approach and I’m adjusting to it. So I have my work cut out for me for the next few months. Not making plans but preparing plans.
While the big parts of getting from place to place are set, the last steps are still unclear. How do we get from the airport to the hotel? What about from the hotel to the train station (with luggage)? How can we visit the sites we want to see? What about the public transportation systems in the cities we’re visiting? How do they work and what’s the best type of ticket for our trip?
Our big thing for the trip is seeing the Christmas Markets. Know what? There’s a bunch of them in every town we’re visiting. We need to pick which ones we’re interested in seeing. Sharon’s only ask is that we get to see the Pink Christmas market in Munich.
For me, the big question concerns our visit to Neuschwanstein Castle. I’m still deciding if we should take a tour package there or if we’d prefer planning our own trip for the day. I’m sure we could do it on our own but there’s something safer about a tour even if your experience might not be the same.
On a less serious note, Sharon’s in charge of our time in New York and I know that I’ll probably be bugging her relentlessly asking for details about what we’re going to do. Right now, I know we have to rent a car to visit her old neighborhood to see the Christmas lights, which apparently are a big deal. (Note from Sharon: They ARE! It’s the same Christmas lights that I used to see when I was a kid! And it’s HUGE and AWESOME!
There’s a relief in nailing down the last of the large travel plans. Once I have that done, I tend to leave them be. Well except the time when I spent hours deciding where to stay in Las Vegas only to change plans the last minute because of an AMEX offer.
I can spend the next few months casually looking at train schedules and local transit maps so I’m not totally lost when we get to each city. I’ll also be looking for some places we can visit during the day before we head out to the Christmas Markets and drink our share of Glühwein to keep us warm.
I can’t wait!
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary