Europe – and France in particular – holds such a fascination for so many people. You rarely come across someone who doesn’t love travelling there. At the moment I have two of my staff (from my day job) heading to European destinations and another one who has just returned.
With our own trip now a smidge over four weeks away, it’s unsurprising that we’ve had a fair bit of ‘travel talk’ in my workplace lately.
From my perspective, it’s been interesting to understand how different people deal with their travel plans. Generally it seems most of us like to have about 80% of the trip locked down, leaving the remaining 20% for a bit of spontaneity.
And the 80/20 approach appears to work. There is enough structure to ensure travellers have a fair idea of their budget or can book special events to avoid the disappointment of missing out and still have room in their itinerary to take any exciting travel opportunities that might come their way.
Having said all that, I’m constantly surprised by the number of travellers that I come across who do very little planning or even none at all. Maybe it’s because I’m more a ‘100% planned’ sort of traveller but it just seems rather risky to me. I have visions of Scott and I dragging ourselves around France trying to find decent accommodation at less than astronomical prices, all the while losing valuable ‘experience’ time. And don’t get me started on where I imagine us being seated in restaurants if I haven’t booked early enough!
In upcoming posts, I’ll be taking an in depth look at planning for a trip to France. I’ll also be sharing more planning tools that I’ve come across or have developed myself.
But Let’s Start With Why Planning For France Is So Important
The answer is simple really.
Because travelling can be daunting, tiring and overwhelming.
There I’ve said it.
Yes, travel can also be an amazing adventure filled with life changing experiences and I can’t ever imagine not travelling but it can definitely test you.
- You arrive in France for the first time (or the 10th time – sometimes no amount of prior experience helps this process).
- Your traveller’s French class and the language downloads you’ve been listening to for months haven’t quite prepared you to speak the language as well as you might have liked. Everyone talks so fast!
- You can’t find your way out of the airport. Your bags are heavy. And you have no idea where you are going to stay the night. But you do know that you want to stay somewhere budget friendly with stacks of French charm.
- You jump in a taxi and decide to head to the centre of the city. Unfortunately, you don’t get to take in the views out the window because you are transfixed on the taxi’s meter. Why is it climbing so quickly? Are all fares going to be this expensive?
- Your journey finally ends and you hand over more euros than you expected. And speaking of the unexpected, every charming hotel you come across is full. Unless you want to shell out for the Executive Suite….
- You start to get a bit snippy with your travelling companion, who seems willing to settle for less than ideal accommodation, if only so they can stop trailing around with their super heavy luggage.
- You eventually find somewhere to stay and decide you’ll head back out to find some food. You and your companion can’t agree on what to eat. All the restaurants look far fancier than they do back home. And you really aren’t dressed appropriately for some of these places…
- You finally eat a less than fabulous meal – wondering the whole time whether you are in some tourist trap.
- Then you decide to head to an attraction you’ve read about in a guide book. You and your companion argue over the directions – suddenly neither of you seem completely unable to read a map. Your French isn’t good enough to ask directions, so you wander around for a while. Eventually you stumble across your destination…only to find it is now closed on the day you’ve arrived.
- You head to bed that night, exhausted and less than impressed by your first taste of France. It is definitely not as good as you imagined it would be. And you are wondering if you’ll even bother trying to see all the things you were so excited about…everything seems expensive and hard.
Ok, so that scenario is pretty extreme. But the point is, not having a plan can mean you don’t enjoy your trip, waste a lot of time, spend too much money and avoid doing some of the things might have wanted to do because it all seems too hard.
Reading reviews on Trip Advisor or other review sites will quickly reinforce this. The number of people who leave bad reviews because they couldn’t get a table, or were ‘forced’ to eat late because they haven’t made a reservation is astounding!
In contrast, having a plan directs your energy and focus. It stops you wandering aimlessly through your trip trying to decide where to eat or what to do. Now I know that sometimes wandering is simply what you need on your holiday… but often it just means that you miss out on amazing experiences.
It also allows you to plan for your trip in terms of packing and budgeting.
For us, planning ahead has enabled to experience so much more of France than we might have otherwise. I can’t imagine travelling any other way.
Are you a planner or are you one who just goes with the flow while you are travelling? Have you ever missed out on something due to a lack of planning? I’d love for you to share your experiences in the comments section below.
And until next time – au revoir.