Each year my husband and I prioritize taking a vacation. Some years are more elaborate than others, but we both know it’s important to take time away from our busy work lives. The first vacation we went on, I surprised him by taking out a lengthy to-do list of all that I wanted to do on our long weekend away. He had no list; his only goal was to relax. If we followed my plan, we’d be sprinting from place to place, barely taking in wherever we were visiting before fleeing to the next spot. If we followed his, we’d spend our entire time napping in our hotel room or wandering aimlessly until we arrived to a place where we wanted to spend more time.
It’s taken several years, and a few arguments, but I feel like we’ve found a recipe that works well for the two of us, the over-planner and the non-planner. Prior to our trip, we choose a few places that we consider to be must-sees, and plot those locations on a Google Map. From there, we add location markers for the places we are interested in seeing but aren’t necessary. When we arrive at whatever city we’ve decided to visit, we choose one of our must-sees and head there. Once we’re done with that tour, restaurant, or store, we check our saved map to see if any of the locations we were somewhat interested in seeing are nearby, and if we’re in the mood we move in that direction.
Doing this allows for us to explore a new city or town in a more relaxed manner (for my husband), while still checking a few things off my now shorter to-do list. Leaving this time for unplanned exploration has resulted in some of our very favorite memories, and it’s created a lot more time for rest and relaxation. It’s also forced me to confront my need to over-plan just about everything in life. It’s given me a bit of a release from it, which is something I’ve desperately needed.
As I write this, I’m a couple days away from boarding a plane to New England, where I will spend a week in a place I’ve never visited before. There are to-do lists, of course, but there’s also the excitement of not knowing what we’ll wind up doing there. What discoveries we’ll make. What people we’ll encounter. That’s part of the fun of traveling, right? Letting the journey unfold as it will.