Travel Advice, Year of Travel

Planning Vs Going with the Flow

Hard as it is to believe we have now been away on our mega-honeymoon for 73 days! We aren’t sure how much longer we have left, as this all depends on when the money runs out. But, it also highlights the fact that we don’t have a plan.

We started this adventure on October 8th 2019 with only a one-way ticket to Bangkok, a vague route through some land borders and, what we hope, is enough savings to last us a year.
Before we left we would speak to people and say:
“We don’t want to plan too much as we want to be able to go with the flow. Meet new people and find out about new places to visit which we haven’t heard of before and be free to mix things up.”
Everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, said:
“That’s the best way to do it.”
73 days in and I’m not convinced that this is correct.
Certainly it has been fun, to an extent, to make up plans as we go. However, the novelty of this can wear thin pretty quickly.
The reality is, we aren’t that sociable. We have met people and exchanged tips as we go, but most people are doing the same trip and so the tips you get largely equate to the top 10 things to do from Tripadvisor. So, we’ve decided to experiment a bit with our planning.

Short-Term Planning
So far in our trip we’ve planned no more that a few days ahead. There are advantages to this, the obvious being that you aren’t committed to anything. If you arrive somewhere great, you can stay longer. If you hate somewhere, leave.
Fun and flexible that this sounds, it is difficult. If you don’t plan ahead a little, you’ll end up wasting an afternoon trying to work out where you want to go next, how you get there and where to stay. If you are planning a similar adventure to ours, we’d highly recommend that you have at least a vague idea of your route prior to arriving. This doesn’t need to be set in stone, but, having a tick-list of things that you want to see will make sure that you don’t end up back-tracking when you find out about something great in a city you just visited. Or, choosing your next destination only to discover that you can’t get there from your current position (this happens more than you think, especially in developing countries where infrastructure isn’t what we’re used to)

Long-Term Planning
By long-term, we’re talking a couple of weeks. There have been a fair few afternoons now that we’ve spent gradually becoming more irritated with one another as we try to work out where we are going next. Luckily, we’ve had visas of 30 days and so the flexibility to waste an afternoon here and there.
This being said, we are heading to Vietnam next and we don’t have time to waste. 30 day visas are, of course, available for Vietnam but there are some prerequisites. For example; a $20 e-visa is available for travelers wanting to visit for 30 days. However, this can only be used at select airports due to a lack of technology at land borders. This means that, if we want to visit for this long, we need to go to a Vietnamese embassy and pay around $70 dollars for a 30 day visa that can be used at a land crossing.
We’re trying to cut corners where we can and, a couple of times now, have found ourselves running out a 30 day visa instead of acknowledging that we’re ready to move on and simply moving on. So, we didn’t get a 30 day visa for Vietnam and have instead elected a shorter 15 day tourist visa which you can get at the land border crossing
Vietnam is a large country and there is so much to see that we now don’t have the time to waste a day if we’re to see all we want. Therefore, we’ve planned our route.
We are experimenting with a longer-term plan now. We know where we want to go, similar to before, but this is a pre-appraised short-list of destinations to visit and we have already booked in our transport between each destination. This should save plenty of time usually spent trying to work travel arrangements out. It also means that we’ve opted to faster travel options rather than marginally cheaper, but slower, buses etc.
This being said, one thing we’ve learnt from our short-term planning is that accommodation is plentiful. As such, we haven’t booked many places to stay. A top tip for your trip would be to only book a night of accommodation before you arrive. This allows you to move on easily if the accommodation turns out to be dirty, poorly located or, run by a warlock. We’ve started doing this a lot and found that, a simple move of accommodation within a city, can make it feel like you’ve moved city altogether.
So, we’re all planned up. There are many amazing things to see in Vietnam and I’m confident that the 15 day visa we have booked won’t be enough and we’ll end up going back to Vietnam to see more, despite this, it’ll be enough to whet the appetite.
What next? “Two weeks of planning isn’t that long-term for a year away” you say. Shut your disgusting opinion cave! The obvious other reason for long-term planning is to take advantage of lower costs. With this in mind, from Vietnam, we are booked to go to Hong Kong and then from Hong Kong to New Zealand. We are incredibly excited. I spent a year in Hong Kong (12 years ago) working as an English teacher and I’m looking forward to taking Rachel around on her first trip there. New Zealand is also somewhere that we’ve always wanted to visit, seriously, we’ve been talking about going there for almost 7 years and are both amazingly excited.

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