Once upon a time there was a young mommy who had her hands very full homeschooling her three young children, running a household and trying to work part-time. One day during their history studies, she began to read aloud a book about George Washington. The study progressed to include .the formation of the United States as a nation, the Constitution and the building of the Capital until the mommy had a wonderful idea. Her family should take a field trip to Washington DC!
Once her idea took hold, there was no stopping her. She rented guidebooks from the library, spent days pouring over websites and paid a visit to her local AAA office as she began to plan what she hoped would be a wonderful vacation for her family. She was meticulous in her travel planning efforts. And as though planning a complete itinerary wasn’t enough, she even took extra time to plan an alternative schedule just in case it rained, they decided to change directions mid-way through their week or found themselves with a bit more time on their hands. She had thought of nearly every possible scenario and had an entire binder of carefully constructed plans to prove it.
Everything would have gone just as planned but… she had forgotten one teeny-tiny detail. While she loved order and some structure, her husband did not. While she loved museums and wanted nothing more than to explore the Smithsonian from sunrise to sunset, her husband did not. While she longed to see as much of Washington DC as she could possibly fit in one week, her husband did not. And all the protesting and pleading in the world could not change the fact that he was there to relax and enjoy his vacation. He was not there to rush around the city sightseeing from sun up until sun down.
The young mommy set aside her carefully laid plans and tried her best to put on a happy face as she struggled to relax, go with the flow and enjoy a trip that included NOT seeing a fraction of what she had planned.
Looking back, that was a wonderful vacation. One of the best that her family has taken. While their days were filled with tours of the Capital Building and the Federal Bureau of Engraving and Printing, their evenings were spent at a campground outside DC, around a campfire, climbing trees and working on Jr. Ranger books that never were completed.
That road trip was a turning point for this mom. By the time we left DC my plans were scrapped completely in favor of spontaneous stops on the way home. We spent a night at Assateague Island National Seashore camping with the horses, drove to Colonial Williamsburg, and explored some fun stops in Richmond, Virginia before heading to Monticello to wrap up our road trip.
My kids had no idea that we hadn’t visited half of the attractions I’d planned to see on our road trip. They only knew that we’d found a great Civil War site to explore or that the little military museum we discovered in Richmond had some really cool knives—a stop they still talk about today and yet one that was not in my original plans.
I know for some travelers, it’s hard to head out on a trip and not have every moment planned. And I know that when it comes to reserving rooms and tickets for busy attractions, sometimes it ONLY makes sense to plan ahead. But I also know that some of our favorite memories are those spontaneous moments when we toss out our plans and go with the flow.
So what type of planner are you? Are you a Type-A down to the minute planner, a go with the flow kind of traveler or do you fall somewhere in between?