Tuesday, May 01, 2007

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go (and it's a shame I haven't a clue where I'm headed)

This week, I have booked two vacations and begun to research two or three more.

Due to a quirky school holiday calendar and a desperate desire to see as much as possible whenever possible (for as little money as possible), this is the beginning of a busy travel time for us. This weekend, we're off to a country cottage in the Cotswolds for the long Bank Holiday weekend. Three weeks from now, we're heading to Prague for a little half term adventure. A month or so after we return, my mom and her sister will be in town and Paul and I can finally get away on our own for a night or two; Brugge, here we come... I think. (This one's not booked yet, which means I'll no doubt change my mind 80 or 90 times before I make reservations.) And then it's time for some summer vacation choices. Will it be a train/ferry trek across the UK to Ireland? A journey through the archipelagos of Sweden?

No, seriously. Ireland? Sweden? Which will it be? And will someone just plan the damn trip for me already? Because here's my dirty secret: I hate nearly everything about planning a vacation.

Yes, yes, it all sounds so exciting and glamorous and bohemian and fun. The world is our oyster and this is our chance to see its pearls. What's not to like? Well, the seeing pearls part, I like just fine. But the actual identification of appropriate pearls and convenient flights and kid-friendly accommodations and travel itineraries that meet the very different needs of every member of this family, all at prices that will leave us free to up and go somewhere else a minute and a half later? Not so much.

I have spent the vast majority of this week planted on the same increasingly sunken spot on my sofa, the laptop open on my lap and about 18 windows open on my laptop. I've been cross referencing flights against hotel availability against travel reviews against God knows what else, to the point that my head is spinning and I find myself almost completely incapable of making any decisions at all. Every time I step away to, I don't know, care for my children or something crazy like that, I come back to discover that all of the airfares have just gone up 50 quid and that the perfect hotel I was all excited about is now booked solid. Travel itself is a joy. But the planning and coordinating part is a whole different ball of wax. This? Is just not fun.

The Internet is good for a great many things. I love the way it keeps me connected with my old life and helps me to explore my new one. It's a very useful spot for making purchases and converting the prices on said purchases to dollar figures I understand. But where travel information and planning are concerned, the Internet offers nothing but Information Overload. Too much of a good thing ceases to be good. And there are way. too. many. travel resources on the web. To be honest, I'm not even sure how it happened that we're going to Prague. Prague sounds lovely, yes, and I'm looking forward to it. But up until yesterday, we were going to Barcelona. I had researched Barcelona inside and out and was looking forward to the perfect little Spanish getaway. But the prices were high enough that I kept looking for a better deal, and I finally found one... in Prague. With the touch of a button, it was adios, Barcelona. The mind boggles.

For a decisive, already informed traveler, I'm sure the proliferation of web-based booking and review resources is nothing short of a God-send. But for the indecisive, clueless waffler (i.e. me), it's overwhelming and exhausting and just plain maddening. I'm excited about the Cotswolds. Looking forward to Prague. Downright bullish on Brugge. But what I really want to see? Is a good, old fashioned travel agent who can take this planning job off my hands for the next year and leave me free to simply pack and go. Does such a thing exist any more?


Blogger denzylle said...

I'm sure you won't be disappointed with either the Cotswolds, Prague or Bruges.

The only thing I read with alarm was 'train / ferry' to Ireland. Sure, go to Ireland, also wonderful - Dublin, countryside of Eire, Northern Ireland - but fly! The train to Holyhead or Stranraer is not as good as many UK train journeys and the ferry is horrific - full of British and Irish drinking as much Guinness as they can manage and suffering the consequences of combining too much alcohol with conditions in the Irish Sea.

Some of the places in the UK that I'd recommend - Lake District (but I'm biased, it's my home), Scottish Highlands and Islands, Cornwall and Devon.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Yes, yes, they do exist! We've just used one to plan our trip to Ireland in the fall. Run, don't walk, and set yourself up, lady. You deserve it.

Also? Prague is amazing. I loved Barcelona too, but Prague is amazing...and CHEAP. (At least it was when I was there years and years ago.) Good call.

Also? Bank Holiday?

4:45 PM  
Blogger Margie said...

How about a trip to Florence? You can link up with your (2nd) cousin Lisa. She and her husband are lots of fun to be with, and their son is about Evan's age.

11:03 PM  
Blogger denzylle said...

There *are* still travel agents in the high street, and there should be some around Hampstead. You might even find an independent one who isn't part of a chain. They need to be ABTA registered.

If you *do* go to Ireland, be sure to take passports as it's not part of the UK.

9:15 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...

Have you considered a spreadsheet to sort it all out?

9:06 PM  

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