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Now that we've travelled a couple of times together, Mark and I have figure out what the roles are in the Grand Planning Experience for our trip. Basically, I plan like an OCD maniac, and he sits back and laughs at me, occassionally going out to pick up books or maps, and otherwise stays out of my way.

I was reading through the travelogue for our first trip, to Scotalnd, and realized that my planning strategy hasn't changed a bit:

  • We didn't want to be on a Tour. No tour buses, no harried crowds of tourists whisked off a bus to snap a few pictures, then herded back into the "air conditioned comfort". No disinterested tour guide droning monotonously about the lovely scenery that we would only see through the cloudy glass of the bus window.
  • We didn't want to stay in spiffy, internationally-recognized hotel chains. They are the same the world over. If I wanted to see the inside of a Holiday Inn, I could stay in the one down the road for a lot less money.
  • We didn't want to have a strict itinerary that required us to rise at 5:00 am, drive like maniacs to the next place on the list, spend ten minutes there admiring the view, then back in the car because we had five things to do before lunch. No leaving a perfect evening because we had to be at the next hotel.

Sure, sounds easy enough, right?

Unfortunately, I'm a planner. I can certainly be spontaneous, but I can only do it when I have the comforting solidity of a plan behind me. Mark is perfectly willing to just get off the plane and get in the rental car, ending up wherever we might end up. I have a nagging fear that we'll miss something if I don't know where things are, what I want to see, and which map sheet to unpack.

Really, I'm not an uptight traveler. I don't wander around with my head buried in a guidebook and never look out the window. I do all of that long before we ever get where we're going -- or at least that's what I'm trying to convince Mark of!

I don't think he really understands, but that's OK. He laughs at me when I buy maps and a half dozen (or is it a dozen?) guidebooks and travelogues and make lists and write notes. He actually shrieked with laughter when he realized that I was highlighting the B&B Guide I had just bought. He thinks I'm nuts.

The way I look at it, I can't plan the perfect vacation, but I up my chances of having a great time and seeing cool stuff if I know about the places we're going to to. I can be very well prepared.

We've agreed ona rule that says I can bring maps and one book. This doesn't actually work for me, since the books i have cover a variety of things -- a guidebook, yes. A book on castles, required. The books from the tourist office with B&Bs listed, well, I coudl buy one there, but I already have one. I figure if I have to carry them or pack them, I'm bringing as many as I need! Hah!

And boy, do I buy guidbookes.

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lost in ireland 2005 travelogue and photos © rfingerson