Trip Preparation: To Plan or Not to Plan?

To plan, or not to plan?

That’s the smallish sorta-war that my wife and I have when we decide to go somewhere. She’s content with only a rough outline of a trip. When she was a teenager, she and her family went to Germany without booking hotels ahead of time. They simply drove around and found places with vacancies. I don’t think I could do that. It comforts me to know what I’m going to do and when I’m going to do it. So when we decided to go to Peru, I immediately hopped on Google and start looking up things to do.

I haven’t always been like this. I think the internet has taken a tolerably neurotic behavior and magnified it tenfold. I have access to how much each hotel/flight costs, how much other travelers enjoyed particular cities, monuments, airlines, and hotels, and enough free time to compile several possible itineraries.

Because I’d seen pictures like this one of Machu Picchu, I wanted to see everything that Peru offered. So of course, I started bombarding my poor wife with questions.

“Hey Sweetheart! Wanna go to Puerto Maldonado and stay in the Rainforest after we see Machu Picchu and Puno and Cuzco and a small town called Ollantaytambo? We just have to get Typhoid, Yellow Fever, Hep A, and Hep B vaccines. Oh yeah, we’ll need malaria drugs too.”

“Wait, where’s Puerto Maldonado?”

“Never mind. It’s really expensive. What about Colca Canyon? It’s beautiful. Look at these pictures.”

It went like that for a month or two. I’d come up with rough outlines, pump out spreadsheets comparing the costs (e.g., flying vs taking an overnight bus), and we’d go over them when we found some free time.

Eventually, we met in the middle. We know where we’ll be sleeping on all but two of the nights that we’ll be in Peru. We have all of our flights booked, and all of the hotels will be setting up taxis for us. There’s enough flexibility to make her happy and enough structure to keep me sane. It won’t be like her trip to Germany, but it’ll be ours.

I’ll let you know how it went when I get back!