Can You Do Too Much Planning?

As I go over 1500 photos from our recent trip to Italy (yeah, I know… ouch!), it’s so fun thinking back on the year prior to this wonderful event – the good the bad, the ugly! So, thought I’d share a bit of that with you – and hopefully you’ll learn NOT to do a lot of what I wasted time and energy on!This entire trip was a Bucket List thing: to hike the Cinque Terre, the five little towns along the northwestern, top ‘curve’ of Italy, along the Ligurian Sea. No roads for regular vehicular travel – part of the wonderful charm of getting down into these delightful little villages – so the train or hiking are your options, other than boating in/out. Can’t do any of this with canes or other aging-assistance, so we figured we’d better go NOW because you just never know, right? The planning and studying began about a year ago, full-tilt until several months ago when I realized I was driving us both NUTS trying to ‘see ahead’ and have all of our proverbial ducks in a row! UGH!The lovely hillside town of Riomaggiore was our base for four days, southernmost of the five, all very similar in look, but very distinctive, with their own dialects, specialties and historical context. Our rooms looked over the little harbor and the sunset, with a lovely deck just inviting us out as often as we were ‘home.’ Can you see the terrain? NOT nice and flat, eh? Nope – especially when the main, follow-the-seaside trail is closed due to avalanches and your only hiking option is up eons-old ‘goat trail/mountain climbing,’ not ‘hiking’ at all!But, I digress! I’ll now share some of my missteps along the way to enjoying this lifetime opportunity, and how too much planning and studying almost ruined it for both of us! Maybe I have ‘control issues’ and hence the need to study things to death? You who know me well would say, “Nah… You?”, with a smirk on their faces, but there’s some validity there, I’m sure!1. Yes, having a goal, a roadmap is what gets you from Point A to Point B, but don’t think things off the map, right? We did have a Master Tour Guide and guides in each locale, so were going to be fairly well looked-after! Relax, Rhonda…2. We knew we wanted to be Travelers and not Ugly American Tourists, so extra study was required there, uh huh? Check out ‘proper’ clothing for general touring, sightseeing in churches, etc. Rick Steves to the rescue – and every internet travel site I could find! Relax, Rhonda…3. Travel light, we’re told (cobblestones), so researching suitcases, backpacks, hounding every relative and friend who travels more than we do (they weren’t hard to find!) ensued for months! Shear exhaustion and ‘new entries’ into the mix caused me to finally just point and order a number of convertible backpacks and day bags. Relax, Rhonda…4. If you’re going that far, stay awhile! This causes the need to truly learn more of the culture you’ll be entering so you can meet your goal of ‘fitting in.’ This found me online with language websites to learn a few appropriate phrases (Restrooms, please? How much? Where’s the —?). Relax, Rhonda…5. Be physically ready to go! Lose the extra pounds; be able to hike or walk 5-10 miles a day; be able to carry all your stuff easily. Hmmmm… got that down, except for that first item! Relax, Rhonda… I’m sure it’s the cortisol…6. Don’t schedule too many relocates – it’s exhausting and you’re spending a lot of time packing and unpacking again and again! Thought we’d learned this on previous trips, but we sort of did it again, with five ‘changes’ in 17 days’ time. Relax, Rhonda… plenty of time to recoup when you get home!7. Go with the flow! You will be running to catch planes, trains and automobiles, so take a deep breath. Itinerary changes will happen and it’s just fine (sometimes better than originally planned!)! I think it’s starting to sink in: relax, Rhonda… !8. Lighten up on your ‘normal’ rules and expectations – travel (Life, actually!) is meant to shake things up, so ‘when in Rome, do as the Romans do!’ Relax, Rhonda…9. Guides or not, try to do a bit of following ‘the road less traveled’ and you’ll have even more memories created. Try to ‘be present and mindful’ of each experience – that means not taking too many photos, right, Rhonda? Relaxing…So, get the idea? I had just about worried myself into a state of exhaustion before we’d even boarded our first airplane! Luckily, I realized this several months before our departure and was able to just settle down and let things happen!Yes, I can vouch that you CAN try to learn, study and plan too much and just about ruin your mental state, trying to anticipate any little thing that might occur! Most of this was because we are not seasoned world travelers and pretty darned comfortable just being at home in familiar surroundings. I guess Wanderlust is something else that fades with age, eh? HA!Now to get that cortisol relaxed and tucked away so I can begin the journey to finally lose those extra pounds, right? Wish me luck! Here’s to YOU, being able to settle down and enjoy each moment as it comes, the good with the bad, with the ugly!

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