Thursday, July 14, 2016

Planning a trip far ahead, yay or nay?

I'm far from spontaneous. I'm obsessed with organization. I honestly admire people who can decide in a second where they're going the next day, sit down and buy a ticket, pack and fly the same moment they decided what to do. I'm far from that. It's not only because I'm now a mother, I never was spontaneous even as a young single traveler. I need lots and lots of planning, for a sense of security, but also for financial reasons.

Now that we travel as a family with a toddler (and with another baby on the way), planning ahead help us with providing babygirl an enjoyable stay she enjoys as much as we adults do. I still wish that one day for once we could be one of those families who travel super spontaneously, but for now, this is the way of traveling that works for us.

Organization is the key of a success vacation for us

I have limited days of vacation. It's 26 working days a year. That's basically five weeks of vacation, which I can take whenever I want, at once or broken down to several breaks. For most Indonesians, this is a lot of vacation days. As far as I know, most workers in my home country are entitled to approximately 11 working days of vacation. If you travel though, 26 working days are really not that much as they sound. We need to plan ahead how we're going to use 'em, how many destinations we're visiting in a year, how long we're staying in each and so on. Because well, the rest of the year, we have to work. Weekend getaways though, could be spontaneous sometimes.

My husband goes on business trips a lot. Mostly to Brussels, but often to other European cities. The frequency could reach twice a month of multiple days of stay, so we have to coordinate our travelings with his schedule. Sometimes he goes on business trips on non-working days (of Croatia) if he has meetings abroad, if it's not a non-working day in his country of destination. Because of that, we have to plan everything ahead, so he doesn't commit to any job when we have a vacation planned. As we were heading to Paris a couple of week ago, his superior asked him to go to Rotterdam for some event. He told the boss he'd be on vacation with his family for four days. Being a workaholic that he is, he immediately felt bad and offered an alternative to his boss that he'd take a TGV from Paris to Rotterdam and get back to Paris to us as soon as he's done with the job. I, of course was upset with his plan. But he got back to me and brought the great news: "forget it, my boss said no. He said -no way! Your wife is going to kill you, I also have a wife, I know how it is!-" :)

I like to make babygirl happy. With her, we travel in two ways: I plan every itinerary well and stick to that, or give open options to my babygirl and let her choose what she wants. Both ways though, I need planning ahead. Even when I leave plenty of options for babygirl to lead our way, I need to research which options are best to be offered. I need to know which routes offer the most entertainment for her, children playground, trampoline, water, animals and other things she enjoy. I need to book an accommodation which works for us as a family, and that would mean less stairways, lower floor (unless it has an elevator), bigger bed (because we co-sleep), equipped with bath tub (she prefers taking a bath to a shower) and if possible, a playground nearby.

Wherever we go, it's obligatory that the place has a trampoline!

I save money when I plan well. Who doesn't? We buy plane tickets during sale periods, pick low-season dates for a trip to avoid overly high prices and tourist traps. For example we've always been dreaming of going on a cruise. Just around Mediterranean sea. And cruises are not cheap. After a couple of years of saving, we finally decide to go on a cruise this year. After a long research, we found a ship that we thought would suit us well, as far as the destination, the contents, the facilities for children and the price are concerned. However the prices go up and down depending on the departure of it. We decided to reserve a departure in October, which is much cheaper than summer departures, guessing and hoping it would be still warm enough in the Med compared to November or December departures. Planning is also important when you fly with a plane. Babies get plane ticket for free until their second birthday, so I know a lot of parents who travel a lot while they can get their babies on plane for free.

I need to keep on track with all medical check-ups. Having a baby also means a lot of routine checks with your pediatrician, and a lot of vaccination schedule. I created a calendar for all of babygirl's regular check-ups and vaccinations when she was born, so I could keep track on the days we'd need to be home, to avoid having to take her to another doctor which is not hers, in some other place. Now that I'm expecting, I myself have a monthly check-up at the obgyn which requires me to keep the agreed dates for routine visits.

Whether you plan your family trip ahead or you just book and go, the most important thing is your entire family enjoy the traveling experience. Traveling can never be bad for your kids. It can only enrich their lives. Bon voyage!

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