The joy of planning a trip in advance (sit back and relax)

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We’re not big travel planners.

By that I mean plan far in advance, down to booking accommodations, activities, and even down to creating a daily schedule.

We generally have an idea of where we want to go and a rough plan sketched out, but mostly we figure it out as we go. We like to be flexible and open ended.

Being so flexible and unplanned can have it’s downsides, which I’m only just noticing now as I’ve meticulously planned our upcoming one month USA road trip with my parents.

travel planning in advance


We’re road tripping from Dallas to Boston. As they are here for a short time and want to experience their US bucket list moments, it’s essential that we plan it all out.

We don’t want to mess this up by being too lackadaisical and turning up in places late, or wasting time trying to find accommodation etc.

Less Stress and Errors. More savings.

Planning your travels as you travel is very time consuming. It means you lose a lot of opportunity to relax and connect to the present moment experience.

It can be very stressful and can often mean you end up spending more money as you lose opportunities for the cheaper prices that can come from booking travel in advance.

There are also less room for errors as you know starting and closing times, costs, etc.

For example, planning a trip to Waco Texas for the day lead me to discover that the lines to the Silo and Magnolia Table are LONG.

Now we’ve arranged to leave Dallas early in the morning to arrive at Magnolia Table for an early breakfast and save ourselves the possibility of a long line at lunch and missing out.

This will also help us time the Magnolia Bakery and Silos to miss the lines.

One little insider tip I know about travel in the USA is that Americans aren’t early risers.

So if you can plan your activities for early, you’ll almost always skip long lines. We’ll report back to whether this worked for our Waco trip or not.

(Update: It worked!! We had only a 20 minute wait. We got there at 8am – later than we hoped. )

Here’s our post sharing our tips for visiting Magnolia Table, the Silos and the Fixer Upper Trail.

Connect to the experiences better

You become more aware of what is on offer and what you will enjoy and connect with better, which again saves you time and money and helps you to get super excited as you know what is coming.

My Dad is very excited about looking at the accommodation and activities I have included in our spreadsheet itinerary, especially the accommodation overlooking the Alamo in San Antonio which is a place he’s wanted to visit for a long time.

He enjoys looking at it online. So he’s deeply connected and excited.

My Mum, however, doesn’t want to look at any of it; she wants the element of surprise.

She knows what we are doing, but she’s not looking further into it as she wants her eyes to first see it in the moment.

As I’ve been planning it all out, I’m super excited knowing what is to come and knowing I’ll be experiencing the dream with my parents.

We are still leaving spaces open for tips from our community, mostly related to food and good coffee. So please let us know in the comments below if you have any!

Show up and enjoy the freedom and fun

I’ve enjoyed the process of planning and scheduling in this road trip with my parents.

I can’t believe how much freer I feel having to all planned out. It’s an excited feeling I haven’t had for a long time.

It reminds me of my first trip overseas backpacking through Indonesia for three months and using my Lonely Planet to map it all out.

It was exciting knowing our route and experiences before leaving home.

I feel like I can sit back now and just enjoy the adventure.

It’s made me realize how much planning can give you this gift of freedom, excitement and the ability to relax and sink into the adventure.

All I have to do is look at my schedule and follow it.

It also leaves me more time to write in the moment posts like this. As our content is so heavy and rich with information to help people travel more, I often don’t have to time to write journal type posts that I once used to love to do.

Posts that just come from the heart and my thoughts while traveling and connecting to the joy of every part of the experience.

I wrote more about that and how we’re planning to do more of it on this six week road trip here.

Although from this post, you can see how spending so long in the car can be a wondrous hell and get in the way of you actually writing the content.

Thankfully for the last month, Nanny and Pop will be in the car. I’m going to sit them next to Savannah.

Be prepared for entertainment Mum and Dad.

It will be okay to ask for a moment of silence.

What kind of a travel planner are you? How has planning in advance helped your travel experience before?

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10 thoughts on “The joy of planning a trip in advance (sit back and relax)”

  1. Tonya Wariner

    I’ve always been a trip planner and we’ve always had really good trips, as a result. You don’t miss out on things, you don’t have to wait in long lines, you see the best things in an area, you have your reservations, you know where to go, you know the best times to go. You have everything timed out. It makes it so you can just enjoy. For instance, I’ve had my reservations for Yellowstone National Park, for this upcoming August, since last August. It’s important you get them a year in advance to get any room inside Yellowstone, yes, but also to get the room you want. If I’m going to Badlands National Park, in South Dakota, I find out things like when the best time to take great photos is. Which is after 5 pm, btw. I plan out my trip so we’ll arrive at that time. Planning is part of the fun of travel, for me.

    1. I’m going to do more planning in advance I think. I freak out thinking of booking something a year in advance though as it seems so far away and I know a lot can change in that time! But definitely as soon as I know I am going somewhere for sure, I am going to start planning and booking. Now my challenge is to get all my work completed over the next two days so I can really relax!!

      1. Tonya Wariner

        For Yellowstone, if you want to stay inside the park, a year in advance is necessary. It all gets booked a year in advance. If you can’t make it when it gets closer you don’t lose any money when you cancel, as long as it’s within their time limit, which is really close to the date of arrival. Good luck getting all your work done, and have fun! Are you coming through Kansas City on your way from Minneapolis to Dallas?

  2. Totally agreed with you. In July, I just gonna achieve one of my dreams trek. And I am as excited as a kid for an adventure park. I don’t want to wait for it if there will be a time machine I will point it at that day. Thanks for sharing this post, gladly had a read of it.

  3. We used to not plan things ahead of time. Our planning process changed dramatically when our kiddos joined our travels. Whereas before, we could show up at 9pm somewhere and find a place to stay last minute (and it wasn’t a big deal if it was a littly scuzzy or not in the safest of neighborhoods) with the kids, this isn’t a good option. Now we feel like we need to know where we are going and how we will get there at all times.

    Booking hotels ahead of time really does save money…when you book right before you travel, you don’t realize how many other hotels that were better accommodations for less money are already full (and thus don’t show up in your searches)! I am booking now for our trip in September and I pretty much have my pick of exactly what will work best for us.

    I feel like we have mastered the art of planning without over planning. We always try to leave some space in our itinerary for catch up time or for other things that we didn’t know that we wanted to see (we schedule one big activity in the morning, and time for exploration or a less intensive activity in the afternoon, with a free day every week or so for catch up).

    I love that you said that the planning actually gives you freedom, because I agree with that 100%! It gives you mental freedom to just enjoy the experience, and to be able to SEE those great hidden gems or unexpected opportunities when they come up!

  4. Hi Caz,
    I’m glad ya’ll are making it down to Texas! While you are near the Alamo you need to go to the IMAX theater in RiverCenter Mall and watch the Alamo : The price of Freedom. It’s really well done and will make things come alive for the kids. Also if you want to see a Texas Rodeo with family friendly two-steppin’ go to the Tejas Rodeo Company about 30 min outside of San Antonio. They have a rodeo almost every Saturday.

    1. Thank you so much for these tips Eric! I was thinking of going to the IMAX to see that. I think we’ll make it happen now!

  5. This is so me, before. But as years go by and many travel experiences. I learned a lot, and being wrong sometimes can teach you a lesson when planning a next trip. Love your blog! I will be in Korea by next month and enjoy Seoul on a Han River Cruise! More travels to come.

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