My husband and I are going to Europe, Germany, France and Austria, for ten days in October for our anniversary and his college study abroad reunion. Besides the need to pack lightly and efficiently, I’ve been wondering how to get the most out of this vacation.
In the course of talking to friends I realize that we don’t all have the same approach to travel. It seems most of my friends, and one in particular, do extensive research, making restaurant reservations and booking tours months and weeks before they leave home. One friend plans each day down to the minute. I’m awed by her thoroughness and impressed, but I’m not sure it would be the right approach for me.
Yes, I know there will be something I miss that I’ll only discover when I get back home. It has happened. There will be the restaurant we’ll miss because I should have made a reservation a month before. I’ll also admit, when I do get the recommendations from friends about places they have gone to, I feel a strong compulsion to follow it and fret when I don’t. But I don’t think it’s really how I want to travel.
The trip, Germany, France and Austria, unlike many business trips to Europe that I’ve gone as the accompanying person, is different. It’s for our anniversary and where we’ve chosen to go. My husband speaks German, so that will be a plus. I studied French in high school and need to brush up, but we will get by. The cities and towns are small and not on the usual bestseller route so they shouldn’t be filled with tourists and we have a general idea of what we want to do.
We’ll be in the Alsace region of France and the German wine country so I’m thinking we’ll spend one day going from vineyard to vineyard. Another day will be in Strasbourg, a small city in Alsace, that the guidebook says is ancient and charming. I’m thinking we can follow out noses in the city and the rest of the trip will take care of itself since besides the Rhine valley and Alsace we’ll be driving through the Black Forest, Grimm’s Fairy tale country. Then it’s only four days until we meet up with my husband’s classmates for their 50threunion.
Do I want a guided tour of the castles we pass? I don’t think so. I’m more curious about the people we see and the encounters we have. Do I need to eat in the best restaurants? I’m thinking not. I live in New York City where fancy food and dining is always available Though I did just read that Jean-Georges Vongerichten is from Alsace and worked at a Michelin starred restaurant there so I may have to rethink.
I’d love to hear how others plan their trips. As a writer, I’m a pantser. I don’t make outlines, but follow my nose until the plot is obvious. My friend who plans down to the minute, if a writer (she a photographer) would be a plotter. I’d be interested to hear how other people figure out their vacations and if my friend’s method is more common.