Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why it is okay to change your travel plans

Here’s the story. For my Christmas/New Year trip this year I had a plan in my mind: I would go to Italy, then spend 5 full days in Switzerland and then go to Germany for a week. Now, I’ve never been to Switzerland and I’d obviously heard some very nice things about it, so the idea of going to this fascinating country was very tempting.

I applied for a visa, was given one and then let the topic rest a bit, as it was a bit too early to decide what and where I wanted to do (early October, 3 months in advance) – the important thing was plane tickets and I’d already purchased them at a good price.

I had several locations I wanted to visit in Switzerland: Geneva, Lausanne, Montreux/Vevey, Lucerne, Interlaken, Bern, Zurich, maybe Basel. Initially, I wanted to cram all of that into 5 days. Which was quite unreasonable as I later realized - I did not want to visit all those cities just to cross them out on my list and several hours/half a day is just not enough for me to fully enjoy the experience of visiting a new town.

So I talked to several friends who’d been there and started playing around with locations that I wanted to visit (keep in mind I don’t ski). Geneva and Lausanne? Lausanne and Lucerne? Geneva and Lucerne? Lausanne and Interlaken? Geneva and Zurich? I was looking at affordable hostels here and there, but in the end nothing felt right. Nothing at all. I spent at least two weeks stressing out about my itinerary and then for some reason I thought of Cologne and some other German cities and then, within a day, I booked all flights/trains for my prolonged stay in Germany. It took me only two hours to come up with a updated travel plan (Cologne, Munich and a day trip to Brussels) and I’m very satisfied with it. You know why? Because it feels right! And I want to be there asap. With Switzerland, I was lost and felt discontented and there was quite a risk of me not being happy about my trip in general. And that's so not what I want to remember about the great trip that I was supposed to have.

So what conclusions I can make for myself (and hopefully others) based on this example?

  • it’s okay to change your travel plans
  • if a destination doesn’t feel right at the moment, then switch over to something else because… why risk being unhappy with a trip?
  • try booking hotels and hostels via booking sites that foresee cancellation free of charge (booking.com, hrs.com) in order to avoid losing money in case you change your mind or there’s an emergency
  • at the same time, if you for instance booked a hostel via hostelworld.com (and they normally charge you 10%, it most definitely is non-refundable) and now hesitate about going to your selected destination, it’s best to lose the 10% (which is normally not much.. 3-5 euro, but of course that depends on your choice of accommodation) than end up hating your trip, right? It’s important to be wary about money, but at the same time there’s no need to be overtly fanatic about it
In other words, travel and be happy!

1 comments:

Sabina said...

You're right - t's definitely, definitely okay to change travel plans - and anything you don't like. Little good comes from going on a bad trip :)

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