Travel Advice -
Thoughts on the need for vacation planning
Many travelers think that all you have to do to create a great vacation
is to say, “I’m taking a vacation”. Sometimes being on vacation does not
result in the pleasant experience that the traveler had in mind. The
reason for this disappointment often is a result of inadequate travel
Vacations require planning
Vacations are not automatons that run under their own power. Creating a
great vacation requires planning. The success of a vacation reflects how
well your vacation plans meet your vacation oriented needs. In other
words, every potential traveler needs to spend some time thinking about
what they or their family would enjoy about a vacation and, then, decide
on a location or itinerary that might meet these needs.
If you do not have time to plan a vacation, stop, take a breath, and
tell yourself that you have your priorities in the wrong order. This is
not to say that you need to make the travel arrangements or select the
specific destinations yourself. If you want to spend only a limited time
planning your vacation, find a competent travel planner/agent and let
them set an itinerary for you. What we are emphasizing, however, is that
you need to decide the type of vacation that you will take. We
think the best approach is to follow the advice we provide in our
article Five questions that
will help you plan travel.
Of course, there are always different perspectives on travel
planning and we describe several alternative perspectives in the article
In order to understand the value of planning and differences in the
types of planning required, consider the distinctions in types of
vacationers discussed below.
There is a group of travelers known as “hoppers”.
The “hopper” is an explorer with an insatiable curiosity and plans
to see every place that there is a good reason to visit (and some that
there is no good reason to visit).
- "Hoppers" are the itinerant travelers who go to some place new every
vacation, continually gather new experiences and rarely tread old paths.
- “Hoppers” grab a guidebook, plan where to roam and get on with it as
thoroughly as possible. In addition, “hoppers” revel in finding unique
curiosities during their travels.
- To be honest, “hoppers” need to work very hard when planning a
vacation. One guidebook will not do for this group and consulting local
sources is a must. Most people who can be classified “hoppers” enjoy
planning almost as much as the vacation.
- Being an “hopper” can be very rewarding but it, also, means that
you have to be willing to spend a lot of time of the front end
researching where to go, what to do and planning the logistics of
these far ranging trips. Exploring is OK for some. For many,
however, vacationing is not a race – it is an experience to be
Another category of vacationers is the “plopper”
who just wants to rest and relax in a pleasant environment that includes
great service and things to do for everyone in their entourage – but
within easy distance of their base location.
- Some “ploppers” are event oriented (racing, gambling, sports) and
want to spend a week or two focused on the activity that they cannot
spend time on during the rest of the year.
- This group does not buy a guidebook or do much planning other than
making hotel and travel reservations but does pick-up the “local
attractions magazine or map” that summarizes things to do at the
- There is a lot to recommend “plopping” and all of us do it from time
- We recommend that you break out of the “plopper” mold and mix some
of the “explorer” into the routine. After all, there may be something
down the road that is even better.
Another group of vacationers is comprised of those of us who “explore”
some places and “plop” in others (sometimes during the same vacation).
This group (to which we belong) is one that we like to call the “hopper
- By far this class of tourist defines the largest group of vacation
travelers and has planning needs between those of the “hopper” and
those of the “plopper” In general, this group selects a destination
and then researches the “immediate neighborhood” for the best things
to do. (see our article
Should you be a hopper or a plopper?).
- Hopper ploppers generally include two to three destinations to
visit during a vacation, allowing both hopping and plopping.
must be based on accommodating your travel needs
In order to have a great vacation experience, you need to decide the
category of vacationing that would be the most rewarding to you
and set about planning an experience that meets these needs,
Our belief is that you should start your vacation planning by
considering the kind of travel goals that are meaningful to you and,
then, take action based on that analysis.
- For example, if you like to explore, we suggest that you need some
further introspection on what kinds of roaming is most interesting to
you (e.g. historic, scenic, entertainment, nightlife, cultural, etc.).
- Based on this examination, you should select a guidebook that
focuses on what is important to you and decide how to fill your
itinerary to meet the specific vacation based goal of interest to you.
- If you are a “hop and plopper”, you should have a list of top things
that you would like to see for every place that you plan on visiting.
- Our suggestion is that this list be limited: you will always see
new things that uniquely appeal to you while you explore new
locations. How many places to schedule is an interesting question
that we discuss in the article
When Less is More.
- We believe in a “limiting” exploration strategy for several
reasons but most importantly
- having a long list of things to do takes the fun out of the
vacation: it soon becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and you rush to
get through it.
- Stay loose; be spontaneous. You will regret it if you do not allow
yourself time to do something just because you wanted to take a
- Finally, having too many opportunities on a list limits the
time since you spend less time at any one location, as you will feel
rushed in your need to get to the next attraction and check it off
- You are going on vacation - relax and lighten up!
Remember, there are many destinations that just do not have a lot of
interesting things to do (we did not say that you could not make up a
long list of things to do, just that most of these things might not
qualify as “interesting). So adjust your list to suit the location. If
there are limited opportunities, see the highlight and take a walk,
people watch (always great fun), have a great meal, or just spend some
time in the rack taking a snooze - after all, it is a vacation.
If you need to find information about Destinations or other Things
Travelers Need To Know, try Googling ThereArePlaces.