Itineraries: The Meticulous or the Messy?
The answer to many questions which I raise on this blog often lie in between the two extremes presented. I feel that Marianne and I can talk to this subject because we have transitioned between the two modes of holiday planning with a gradual drift toward the meticulous side. This is largely due to the presence of Charlotte but also in part due to creating ‘backup’ plans photographically. There are notable advantages and restrictions to both approaches which I thought I might highlight through some past experiences. The short stories are examples of planning gone right or wrong.
Back in 2002, our first trip to Vietnam originated from a plane ticket in , a plane ticket out and the first night’s accommodation. Everything else in between, was completely up for grabs! Fast forward to this year and I’m coming up with spreadsheets of various aspects of the trip. I never thought of myself as OCD but perhaps there are elements….
In 2009, our icelandic trip was hampered photographically with the early loss of the 5dmk2 to waterfall spray. Sharing one camera between two photographers was very trying for our patience. We used ‘open voucher’ tickets with Iceland’s excellent hostel network. This allowed us to spend more time at certain locations and to wander ‘off course’ to places such as Breidavik in the West Fjords where a fortuitous snap has since become one of our most popular images.
Again in 2009, we didn’t account for a May public holiday which meant all accommodation in Seydisfjordur was occupied. As a result, we had to drive an hour further to the remote property ‘Husey’ where we enjoyed some great conditions for photography. This was not without stress as we rang around for quite some time before securing any accommodation whatsoever. This shot would never have occurred if we had adhered to a predetermined itinerary!
In 2010, we prebooked every single night in Iceland over a 5 week trip. Had we known just how incredible the West Fjords would be, we would have altered our schedule somewhat! As it was 2 nights at Korpudalur was enough for us to chance upon this scene.
In 2011 , we visited Tasmania while Marianne was 20+ weeks pregnant. By this stage , most of our trips had accommodation prebooked before leaving. We wanted to travel in relative comfort compared to our previous trips given that this would be our last hurrah without a baby in tow. Hence the actual accommodation took preference over its exact location. We do wish we could have stayed longer and closer to the West Coast than Burnie though! Burnie was our base for the series of shots from Couta Rocks.
In 2012, Charlotte was well and truly part of our lives. Free wheeling accommodation was no longer a realistic possibility and so the level of planning rose further. We found that ‘overnighters’ at any given location was just too much of a hassle. By the time everything was unpacked for ourselves and Charlotte then repacked the following morning, our arms had received a great workout but that’s where the positives ended. It was a struggle to find the motivation to get out and about on these evenings and dawns. We would have loved a couple of nights at Moeraki for instance.
This year, the level of planning went up further! In order to maximise time with photography and family, I tried to plan the direction of our travel so that tides and moon phases would match certain parts of our trip. Instead of heading north to Kaikoura first, we chose to head through Arthur’s Pass to coincide with a new moon and the chance for some milky way shots. Similarly , instead of heading straight to the glaciers, we decided to stop at Greymouth for a couple of days to take advantage of low tide at dawn and dusk. Despite these plans, we would have loved to have spent more time around the west coast due to the bad weather which had us indoors for much of our time at Punakaiki. Conversely we could have spent one less day in Glacier country except for Charlotte’s run in with a nasty chest infection.
So what’s my conclusion then? I feel that an open itinerary gives you so many more opportunities to take advantage of conditions photographically. This may not be the best option for you if you feel the need for security of a guaranteed roof over your head for the next evening. With a trip involving an infant though, this would result in a potentially unsettled child whose behavior could then spoil the trip. We try to overcome both problems by simply staying longer at any given location and hoping that the conditions suit at some stage during our stay. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts both as solo travelers and family travelers with children at different ages.
Posted on June 6, 2013, in Australia, How we..., Iceland, New Zealand, Random Musings and tagged australia, Everlook, Iceland, itinerary planning, Landscape, new zealand, Photography, Tasmania, Travel, travel guide, travelling. Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.