Justine: Travel…Are You a Plotter or Pantser?

planeThe Eight Ladies have been talking bucket lists lately. My bucket list has only one thing in it right now – my trip to England in exactly a month (I arrive on May 7th for 10 days!). You’d think with such a big event, I’d have meticulously plotted out where I will go and what I will do each and every moment of my trip.

Surprisingly, I haven’t. In fact, Jilly, my awesome partner-in-historical-crime/tour guide/(and I hate to say it, but) chauffer have only (mostly) nailed down our accommodations today.

In my youth (which was oh-so-long-ago), I was a major control freak, very structured, very well planned out. I still am, I guess, in some ways. But I’ve also learned to give a little, to let life happen, to let things take me by surprise. To be more of a pantser, I suppose.

Jilly and I have several things on our itinerary: The Royal Pavilion, Dover, some old ships, and the obligatory country manor (likely Kenwood House and Osterley Park, both of which come highly recommended), as well as a visit to the British Library to peruse their maps.

Some things, like attending Gilbert & Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance, will force us to adhere to a strict schedule. But I want the bulk of the “country roaming” part of the trip to allow us to meander, poke down a lane, see what’s there, spend time in old towns, talk to the locals, and if we’re done, move on.

Don’t think for a moment, though, that I don’t know what I want to see. That I have planned out very well. The country. The slower life. The old roads and coaching inns of centuries ago. It’s easy to imagine the hub-bub of London in the 19th century, the clickety-clack of horses hooves and wagon wheels on cobblestone, but I want to see what a “lane” looks like. Where people ride horses. A vista of fields with stone walls, like cookie cutters on dough.

To that end, a little flexibility is necessary. I’m sure the owners of the B&Bs we’re staying in can help us with the local flavor, pointing me in the direction of things I want to see, or things they think would tick off the “countryside” criteria on my list. But I’m also prepared for some “off-the-beaten-path” discoveries as well. Sometimes, that’s when you see the best things.

When you travel, are you a plotter or a pantser?

4 thoughts on “Justine: Travel…Are You a Plotter or Pantser?

  1. I used to be fine with a good guide book and I’d dog-ear some pages before I went, and then pantsed my way.

    Then, for a brief period, I printed everything out from the computer. I may or may not have had time to do it all, but by gum, I had a map to it if I wanted it, LOL.

    These days, I’m easily connected to the internet, so I’m back to doing research on the fly. I’ll look stuff up before I go, but a lot of times, I’ll do final research in the morning before we leave the hotel, download maps onto my phone, and take things from there.

    So, I guess that makes me a plotter, but I have a lot of flexibility. I definitely don’t mind dropping things from my list to take advantage of a new opportunity.

    (-: Reminds me a lot of how this book is going. Lots of “plotting” (well, not really. Mostly character and setting development). Then, I write what comes to me.

  2. I’m a plotter in all things except my writing. There, I’m a pantser. I plot travel, grocery shopping, Christmas shopping, my work day, gardening – everything. Again, except my writing.

  3. I’m a hybrid of both, I think. I love spending time planning and researching the places I want to see, but there are some things I absolutely want in place before I go–hotels reservations, for example. When it comes to the actual trip, I know how to get around (yes, I’m researching how the NY subway operates) and what’s available that interests me. I make a macro schedule. For example during my road trip with Kay and Jill last January, each day was dedicated to a different location, but once we were there we let things evolve naturally. The three of us spent a few hours at Hopi House-a stop that wasn’t planned or scheduled.

    I move in the right general direction, but leave things open when I reach my destination.

    I’m like that with my writing, too.

  4. For me, it depends on the trip, how much time I have, and whom I’m traveling with. If there’s not much time and x things that have to be seen with people who have to see them, I’m all about the plans and the schedule. If there’s lots and lots of time, I’m happy to have no plans or schedule at all. The “lots and lots” of time hasn’t really happened since I was in my thirties, but those three- to eight-month trips were really something.

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