Don't over-plan

Planning: Before you leave

Other planning advice

After reading our section on Less is More you're probably thinking you'll be needing an advanced degree in Travel Planning 101 before embarking on your trip. In fact the opposite is the case.

Travel planning should be easy and need not be too detailed. One of the more disappointing experiences is when your trip is nothing but a series of missed deadlines and connections.

When you're trip planning, concentrate on the broad strokes -- getting from A to B -- don't worry about what you're actually going to see, nor how you're going to see it. How broad the strokes depends on the individual.

Some people are happy with something like:

  • Laos 2 weeks
  • Vietnam 3 weeks

Others may go for:

  • Northern Laos 10 days
  • Southern Laos 4 days
  • Hoi An 4 days
  • Nha Trang 5 days
  • Southern Vietnam 12 days

While others still may opt for:

  • Luang Prabang 5 days
  • Vang Vieng 3 days
  • Vientiane 2 days
  • Tha Khaek 2 days
  • Savannakhet 2 days

There's nothing wrong with any of the above, though when you see a trip plan which starts like the following you start to worry:

  • Luang Prabang Day 1 morning: Breakfast and morning market
  • Luang Prabang Day 1 mid-morning: Shopping and 1 temple

Having some kind of trip plan is a good idea. It will help you organise your time and get the most out of your trip.

Just don't forget that one of the ideas of having a holiday is to relax, unwind and have a good time. A trip plan which tries to fit in too much or is the length of a thesis will not help you relax, nor will it help you have fun.

If it takes you more than five minutes to explain what you're doing in your trip, chances are you've planned too much!

About the author:
Stuart McDonald co-founded with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.

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