Our trip to Africa is set and now it is just counting down the days. I keep looking at the way we have prepared for this trip and wondering if we have not lost a bit of adventure. The internet has changed a great deal of how Debbie and I travel and I am not sure it is for the better. Previously we booked our plane ride and hotels for the first and last nights of our trip. This left us with some options. We could spend a day or two beyond our planned stay in a place we enjoyed. It enabled us to locate hotels in areas we found suitable and inspect our potential accommodations prior to committing. Armed with a list of potential hotels we would wander around the city to which we had just arrived and scout out the possibilities. It added excitement and mystique to the trip by not knowing what is down the pike. It also gave us a chance to interact with the people of our host nation and to get the lay of the land prior to settling on a temporary residence.
It is of course not all peaches and cream. It is very exhausting after a 10 hour bus ride in a less than comfortable bus, on less that ideal roads, to jump out and start hiking around the streets knowing you have to find a spot to sleep that night. This procedure can test even the most laid back person. This method has been known to cause some angst. Both a little edgy and in need of food Debbie and I do not always agree on the best method to attack the problem at hand. Although in the end we do not have too much problem with the final decision of which hotel would suit us the best.
Now, we lay out an itinerary and use the WWW to finalize most of our plans before we even leave. We know what day, what plane and what hotel. This takes away a lot of the intrigue and in the long run costs us a considerable amount of cash. If we have to travel during ‘peak’ travel season or our destination is a popular one booking in advance seems somewhat prudent but we no longer have to travel during July/August vacation rush so we are not bound by the whim of the crowd. This trip pre-planning also costs money. Especially when it comes to ‘packages’ like our up coming safari. If we had waited until our arrival and were flexible as to the dates of the tour, we can go armed with a list of pre-researched safari companies and drop into their offices on arrival to see what openings they have. I think this way of doing things would afford considerable savings. This is of course a gamble, we might not be able to attain what we desired, but that is the intrigue I talked about earlier. With the number of companies running safari tours we would be able to find something, if not the ideal.
We are getting older and less resilient but I do think that taking a step back on our trip planning methods is worth reviewing. It is easy to get caught up in the ‘do it now’ hype of the internet and today’s society in general but the hippie in me keeps try to say ‘chill’.
We’ll see where the next trip takes us and what method we use to find our way around.