Perhaps time to upgrade my travel planning technique

travel planning
Photo of a wall in Warsaw, Poland. On our Eastern Europe trip, the Midget and I did a lot of making it up as we went along.

Some people are meticulous when it comes to planning a holiday.

On taking a suitable map

The first real travelling I did was driving to Sweden with a friend. It wasn’t a long trip. We were gone all in all only three weeks and we took the ferry from Kent to Denmark, so we only had to drive through two countries.

I’d never driven on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. And this was a time before blind following of the satellite navigation propped up on the dashboard. Or a phone with worthwhile mobile internet. What we had was a road map – of the whole of Europe – and a guidebook which explained speed limits, keeping your lights on and the importance of having the right number of high visibility vests.

I drove out of the ferry terminal in Denmark, turned left across four lanes of traffic, window wipers screeching, lights on.

A surprising reality of ad hoc navigation

travel planning
“Which way up?”

That first half hour of driving felt comparable to escaping Rome (which involved an emergency switching of drivers just before hitting the Rome ring road). We stopped at a McDonalds for coffee and to breathe.

A few days later, we reached Copenhagen. It felt an impressive feat, driving in, parking, going out for lunch, and then driving out, following the signs for Sweden. Copenhagen on our map was entirely contained in four inches squared. Squinting didn’t help. We drove into Malmo, circled around a bit, found the hostel we were staying at, and parked without nothing much more than an address.

And I’ve got no idea how. In hindsight, blind faith is not a navigational technique I’d advise, but it did somehow work for us.

More miraculously, on the way back, we also drove into Copenhagen, parked in exactly the same parking spot – this is without any idea of which side of the city we were on – and went out for lunch.

On itineraries and spreadsheets

Very soon, I’m going to Portugal with the Grump. I’m getting the impression that the Grump wouldn’t turn up in a foreign city without an adequate map. I’m imagining his luggage being 50% paper print outs of tickets and plans. For me, this is going to be an education.

I wrote an itinerary and made a spreadsheet. I’ve emailed booking confirmations and asked AirBnB hosts for their precise addresses more than 24 hours prior to arrival. This is all new for me. While I’m normally pretty good at booking longer trains and planes in advance, having all the information neatly arranged is somewhat foreign.

It takes some urgency to make me think, where am I going next.

I can be adaptable and accommodating though… I think…

 

[Written mid-March.]