My ideas for happy travels
I am no expert traveler.
Sure, I’ve done my share of traveling. I’ve taken tours, I’ve traveled independently, and I’ve traveled with friends and family. I’ve made mistakes and learned from my mistakes. So I suppose that qualifies me to offer advice.
But I am clear that there’s no one right way to travel. What has worked for me might not work for you. There are a lot of places people rave about that failed to impress me. When I post tips on travel forums, I’ve sometimes been contradicted; sometimes my knowledge of the subject has been called into question.
None of this will stop me from offering tips. But take them with a grain of salt.
I don’t think I’ve ever planned a trip without someone, either on a forum or in real life, suggesting alternatives to my itinerary. When I went to the Balkans, I heard from people who said I needed more time in Dubrovnik and others who said I needed less time in Dubrovnik. And no where did I get more varied opinions than when asking about Belgium. There are four major tourist destinations in Belgium (in addition to countless smaller places that are undoubtedly worth seeing): Brussels, Ghent, Bruges, and Antwerp. There are 24 different ways of prioritizing those four cities, and I have no doubt you could get 24 different opinions if you asked 24 different people on a travel forum.
When you travel a long way to see wonderful things, there is a natural impulse to squeeze in as many destinations and activities and great sites as possible. After all, you might not ever get back, and you’re so close, how can you not go to _______?
I can definitely relate. Whenever I plan an itinerary, I try to see as much as I can. And invariably, I don’t make it to a lot of the places I hoped to see.
With just a few weeks until my Beltherway trip, I am spending a lot of time trying to get organized. That involves not just making final itinerary plans, but also making a checklist for packing and pre‐trip preparations — things like remembering to stop mail delivery, turn down the heat, and notify my credit card issuer of my plans.
I’m feeling anxious.
I’ve had generalized anxiety before, nothing severe, but I’m feeling specifically anxious about this trip. I’ve got a nervous feeling in my gut and I’m not sleeping well, waking up in the middle of the night or much too early in the morning.
I’m not sure what I’m anxious about, though there are some possibilities.
Picking the right guidebook is always a challenge. On the one hand, any guidebook is going to provide useful information, so you won’t necessarily have a better or worse vacation by picking one guidebook over another. But some guidebooks provide advice and recommendations that fit a particular traveler’s interests, budget, and time constraints; others are more a compendium of every potentially interesting sight and activity. Also, some have big long sections on where to stay. That can be helpful if you are traveling on the fly and looking for lodging as you go. If you plan ahead and book lodging beforehand, those sections are a waste of space and are extra stuff to carry around.