Yeah, I get it. Who has a vacation planning philosophy? You plan the vacation, you go on vacation, you post pictures to Instagram, and then you return to normal life.
Our family has been on a fair number of vacations– I realize how lucky we are to have been on so many amazing trips. Ireland. A month in Canada. Israel. Switzerland and Italy. Three months(!) in Iceland.
But it’s only in the last few months that I realized I have a vacation philosophy. And I don’t think it’s a very good one. Here’s that poor philosophy:
Over prepare and over tour.
Each of those words focuses on a different aspect of the trip: Preparing for the trip is everything you do to get ready. Buying plane tickets. Booking lodging. Deciding how to get to the airport. The tour for the trip comprises the things you do while you’re away from home. Visiting a museum. Riding on a steam-powered locomotive. Swimming with dolphins.
It’s a common refrain that people often enjoy the planning and anticipation more than actually being on vacation. I think this is due to overtouring… but more on that later.
Just to jump to the conclusion, my new vacation philosophy is going to be “Over prepare and under tour.” I don’t think overpreparing is bad. Or maybe I’m just unwilling to give it up. I want to know the best way to get my cell phone working overseas, without breaking the bank. How to get cash without getting ripped off. Whether I need rental car insurance. What kind of rental car insurance I need. What type of power adapter to bring with me.
Take a look at our Iceland vacation planning guide. Click through some of the links, and you’ll see detailed planning information. Who else spends 3,700 words talking about cell phones?
Especially when I’m traveling with my family, I want to know what to expect. I feel like it’s my job to shepherd them through a vacation safely and efficiently. And for me, I want to make sure I do it without overspending.
I might have made up this word, but I can’t think of a better one. Overtouring. In my opinion, too many people (including me!) try to fit too much into their allotted vacation days. My name is Eric, I’m an overtourer, and I’m trying to change.
I think the Internet makes overtouring more common. Look– here’s a list of the top 15 things to where you are going! Let’s see all of them! Sure, one of them is 3 hours away from all of the other ones, but look how cool those pictures are!
But think back to some of your fondest travel memories. On our first trip to Iceland, I remember when the kids made a snowman. With our cab driver.
Seriously– the 5 of us took cabs around Reykjavik, but most cars couldn’t fit all of us. One guy had a minivan cab, and so we called him every time we needed to get somewhere. (Which was a lot, since I was on crutches!) He liked us, we liked him, and he helped the kids make a snowman.
On our next (and longer) trip to Iceland, the kids loved Sheep Farming Camp. We rearranged our schedule so the kids could spend the afternoon with Icelandic children, searching for eider duck down and feeding baby lambs.
And, during our summer trip to Canada, our relaxed schedule allowed me to join a Dragon Boating team, and compete in a Dragon Boating Festival.
This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t do any planning. You need to have some tours and destinations planned. But I want to encourage you to leave some time for discovery. I dragged my family around to every museum I could find in Reykjavik; most of those visits are now long forgotten.
I’ll discuss ways to maximize the chances that you’ll experience something new and cool and unexpected. Maybe the motto of the web site should be: Luck Is What Happens When Preparation Meets Opportunity.
I’ll help you prepare, and have working cell phones and transportation figured out. And I’ll try to help you be ready for opportunities to arise. We’ll discuss tactical tips: Stay in one area for more than one night. Pick up a local newspaper. Put yourself in situations to talk to local residents.
Or not. You don’t need serendipity to make vacation memories. Maybe it’s just taking the time to do a few amazing things from your bucket list, and also have time to explore your destination.
This site will help you prepare, and perhaps over prepare. Sorry; it’s what I do. But I’m also going to help you stop overtouring. And hopefully you’re going to help me do the same!
Take a look at some of our preparation posts. And let us know what else you’d like us to cover. And also see some of our travel stories. Hopefully we’ll have a lot more to share!