As a young married couple with three small children under the age of six, vacations were limited to family visits at the major holidays. We settled 500 miles away from the majority of our extended families which limited the time we could spend in person. With finances tight, we often stayed with family and attempted to minimize the intrusion as best we could.
In the teen years, our oldest son played soccer on a travel team and I did a lot of driving. Mostly in the state, but sometimes to other states for tournaments. Practices, games, club activities all drained time and money and family vacations were further restricted by soccer tournaments that intersected with holidays.
We have reached the point where all three children are of adult age and my wife and I are rediscovering the joy of getting away by ourselves. My wife leaves the planning to me. In the younger years she was the one writing lists, packing bags, planning clothes, and snacks for the kids. I packed the car and drove.
Now I do the legwork in advance. We choose a destination. I research the transportation options to get there. Figure out where to stay. Discover activities to do while there. Look up several restaurants as likely eating options for each day. The activity method that works best for us is to budget times for doing nothing.
One major activity per day seems to be just enough. Find it. Get there. Do it. Regroup. Go enjoy a good meal. Relax and discuss options for the next day. Vacation by outline. Fill in the gaps only enough as needed. It removes the pressure of a fully detailed itinerary where you feel rushed to get through everything for fear of missing out on something. Those days are done.
What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?