Daily Prompt: The Happy Wanderer


 

Getting There Is Half The Fun

What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?

Departing on The Overland to Melbourne
Departing on The Overland to Melbourne

This slogan which used to be used by Australian National Railways (and many other organisations I’ve no doubt) is actually true as far as I’m concerned. I love the planning of a trip nearly as much as the actual travel.

I love getting the timetables, researching  the places I want to visit and working out how to get the maximum fun out of the holiday trip. I’m the practical type too. I like to know that when I arrive at my destination I’ll have a bed to sleep in so I usually prefer to book ahead at busy times although Hubby and I have occasionally taken pot luck with accommodation on winter trips to country destinations. It’s usually worked out all right for us because we were not excessively fussy travelers when we were younger. As long as a place was clean and convenient it would do for us. Now we’re older we look for more in our holiday accommodation, like air conditioning, our own bathroom and somewhere handy to do laundry.

My sister and I have a system when we go on a trip together. We each write a list of all the things we want to do and see divided into “must do” and “would like to do”. We then get together to compare lists and schedule in as many of the “must do’s” that we have in common as possible. If there is any time left over we fill it up with the things we’d like to do. Inevitably at these get-togethers we’ll find there are not enough days to do all the things we want to do but we compromise well.

Having said all that I don’t like to be over organised. Luckily both Hubby and Sister like to be flexible about activities. Once we’ve listed the activities we work out the best days to do them but they are not set in stone. We know that sometimes you will find something by accident that will turn out to be more interesting than what you planned to do, that some things will take longer than you expected and others not as long so you find yourself with extra time. After a few days of rushing about sight-seeing you might just want to have a long lazy breakfast and go out later.

During our overseas trip in 1990 Hubby and I shared a sleeping compartment on the train from St Petersburg to Moscow with a Russian travel agent. She was a nice woman who spoke good English and she told us that she found it very interesting to see how different the behaviour of the American and British tourists she met was. The Americans, she told us, liked to do everything as a group even to being taken to the shops together. The British, on the other hand, were always wanting to go off on their own. I most definitely fit the British mold.This is the reason that I am not keen on organised, conducted tours. I feel that the more people you travel with the more compromises you have to make. That’s why travelling alone appeals to me. I never have to worry about my companion being bored by my interests or worse, me being bored by theirs. If I were on a coach with forty odd people I know I would be very frustrated at not being able to spend enough time in a place I really liked because we had to move on to the next place on the itinerary. I would use organised tours sometimes but mostly if I was in a place where language or lack of transportation  would make travelling difficult or if it was a themed trip eg. for rail fans. Here is an example of something that happened to me. We were in Beijing for a few days and we decided that we would take a day tour to the Great Wall. It was a small group, about a dozen people, all business men having a day off, it was a Sunday. I was the only woman. Well, we arrived at Badaling and all set out to walk with our guide. Hubby, who is not a good walker, stopped before long and told me to go on ahead. We reached the first tower, I didn’t see any of the others as I’d lagged behind a bit with Hubby at first so I went up, took some photos went down and carried on walking. I walked and walked until I’d gone as far as you could go in that section. I never saw any of the others. Finally I returned to the bus to find everyone waiting for me. They had all turned back after going to the first tower. I was sorry they had to wait but I would have been much more sorry if I’d had to turn back as early as they did. The first bit of the walk had been very touristy but further on it was quiet, there were fewer people and I enjoyed the views of the mountains in the distance. It was the best part of the day out for me and it is how I’ll always remember the Great Wall.

Tianammen Square February 1990
Tianammen Square February 1990

So I guess you could say that while I get a great deal of pleasure from planning holidays and enjoy the security of knowing that some things are taken care of I do want to be able to change my plans if it suits me and to take advantage of opportunities. I want to be able to soak up atmosphere in a fascinating place not jump back on the bus because we still have half a dozen tourist attractions to see in the day. I want the freedom to change my mind if I don’t like something. What kind of a traveler are you?

Taswegian1957

I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on WordPress.com with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. My current housemates are Cindy, my 14-year-old Staffy-Lab X dog and Polly the world's most unsociable cat who is seven.

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