Planning a Trip: Are You a Planner or a Panster?

Planning a trip - Are you a planner or a pantser?

There are lots of different ways to travel, but there are also some very different travelling styles, especially when it comes to planning a trip. Here are the two ends of the spectrum: the Planner (Stephanie Fox of Newcastle & Travel) and the Pantser (uhhh… yup, that would be me).

Stephanie Fox: Newcastle & Travel – Planner!

Planning a Trip - Planner

When it comes to planning a trip, I’m the biggest planner there is and I always have been. Even down to local day trips, I’ll research the best way to get there and when is best to go. Despite this, I’m not actually a stress head when it comes to the actual travel part, I can handle delays or long journeys, transfers and unsociable flight times.

What I do get very hung up on though, is what I should do when I’m there. I figure that if I have a short space of time somewhere I really want to make the most of it, and don’t want to leave it to chance. What if I miss something?!

Especially for unique once-in-a-lifetime trips, I like to make sure I have a balanced mix. That includes time to relax, time for experiencing the authentic local culture and sampling the food, and of course visiting any touristy spots that just have to be done.

My biggest source for all of this information is no longer Google, travel websites or brochures. It’s travel bloggers. There’s no other resource out there that has such a wealth of first-hand knowledge, great tips and hacks, genuine opinions and real-life experiences.

Amy Poulton: Page Traveller – Pantser!

Planning a trip - Pantser

I definitely identify as a Pantser! The best trips I’ve been on have been ones where I’ve thrown caution to the wind and just winged it.

I’ll admit, though, that sometimes it gets me in trouble. Like when I didn’t realise I needed a visa to travel to Australia. Or when I travelled from Hong Kong to Macau without my passport. Or when I booked a last-minute flight on my phone and predicative text auto-corrected my name on my ticket and I didn’t notice. I’m not going to lie and say those times weren’t a little stressful.

But, my loving of ‘pansting it’ comes from a frustration with planning. Many a time, I’ve been planning a trip so thoroughly that I thought I had it down to a tee, but then something unexpected happens anyway. Like when I arrived in Bangkok with a whole booklet of train timetable information, only to discover that all the trains down south were fully booked anyway.

So, I figured if things were just going to go off-track no matter what I did, what was the point of planning in the first place?! You might as well embrace the madness! Plus, as stressful as they may be, those challenges times make for the best travel stories.

Having said all that, backpacking solo for seven weeks last autumn was a challenge to my carefree pantser mentalities. I didn’t particularly want to arrive in a strange city at 5am and have to knock door to door comparing dorm room prices. And I only had a seven-week period in which to cram in all of the corners of Southeast Asia that I wanted to see.

I came up with a detailed itinerary that my worrying mother approved of, which included flights, buses and hostels all booked in advance. I was incredibly pleased with myself and was considering converting to being a Planner, until I realised that there was no room for flexibility. Three times I was contacted by friends travelling in the area who wanted to meet up and I couldn’t because our itineraries didn’t match up.

Planning a Trip – Is it better to be a Planner or a Pantser?

Planning a trip

Basically, there has to be a balance. As romantic as spontaneity sounds, I’ll never again be so arrogant to assume that I don’t need a visa to travel somewhere just because I have a British passport. But, I still prefer learning about a place once I’m there, talking to locals and fellow travellers for recommendations, over doing loads of research in advance.

Oh, and the best advice when planning a trip? Always expect the unexpected.

10 thoughts on “Planning a Trip: Are You a Planner or a Panster?

  1. I really enjoy reading your blogs but this one especially so as it made me think about some of my planned and unplanned travel experiences. I too will never reach the dizzyy heights of organisation of Mummy Poulton, or even Baby Hannah Poulton and I do have a regret or two that have resulted from a lack of planning, however as you say this lack of planning does make for a better story and surely stumbling across and discovering something wondrous completely untainted by other people’s perceptions or your own expectations is the magical feeling that rewards an explorer!

    1. Haha! Exactly! Organisation in moderation, I say! Thanks for reading! I always enjoyed reading your emails home from your year travelling, especially the tales of the unexpected!

    1. Hey Adriana, you’re doing better than I did then! I’ll never live that mistake down! Enjoy your trip, Australia is beautiful.

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