“They’re saying you need your passport.”

“Don’t you have a copy?”

“Yeah, but they need your visa page.”

“Why?”

“Some stupid COVID thing.” I turned away from talking to the BF, back to the front desk clerk. “I promise you he hasn’t left the country in three years.”

“Sorry, it’s the policy of the government.”

I start scrolling through my phone, my mind problem solving rather than questioning the bureaucratic bullshit.

Later, after I get my hands on an electronic copy to give to the hotel, and we’re in our room, I say to him, “I didn’t think they’d need your passport.”

“Me, either. If I would have thought about it, I would have brought it. Whenever I travel with someone I go on autopilot.”

Normally, I’d be annoyed by that statement, but we’ve been together long enough that I know that I’m the planner and he’s not.

In fact, I don’t think I could trust myself to let him take the reins. Isn’t that horrible?

High above Oahu before I had to tell my friends I was going to be sick. [circa 2005]

To plan or not to plan: That’s really not a question.

I’m not an over-planner. I don’t create an itinerary or anything like that. Well, I do if I’m visiting Chiang Mai because we have friends we want to see, but if it’s a city I haven’t been to before, then no. I visualize an outline for the day, and I may or may not plan where to eat. Okay, I know what you’re thinking, but truly, I’m not like Effie from The Hunger Games. [But you know what? I appreciate her efficiency.]

I can’t show up and look for a room. I have, but I’d rather not waste my time doing that. Even in Asia, where the hotel lobby is not an accurate reflection of what you’ll be getting. Even in Asia, where you might be astounded to see that your pre-booked hotel is next to a massive construction site. Even in Asia, where photos and price do not match the reality.

Traveling with children has made me aware that sometimes bathroom accidents can happen.
[Natural History Museum, Vienna, Austria 2012]

Getting lost. Over or underrated?

When I was traveling in Austria with my family, it was challenging changing hotels, catching trains, and even visiting museums with my brother, sister-in-law, mother, and two young nephews, and baby niece. At that time, Donovan hadn’t quite mastered waiting until a toilet which as you can imagine (oh, please do), created a mess both logistically and literally.

The craziest moment occurred when we were out in the city exploring, and Big D had an accident. My brother immediately hailed a taxi and took off back to the hotel without any of us knowing it. No phones, no contact, just pure adrenaline and in-the-action doing while we walked up and down the street trying to solve the mystery of the missing boys. Then! Trying to figure out how to get back to the hotel as we were hopelessly lost.

They say getting lost is fun and a must-do, but it’s stressful especially when children are involved. These days our phones make things easier. [Why have I just now downloaded Google translate?] But I still operate like I don’t have one because I traveled for so long without it. In fact, I sometimes forget to use it – kind of like my great aunt who has a tiny notebook with phone numbers rubber-banded to her phone – old habits are hard to quit.

Mom and me at a family friend’s house. [Hawaii, 2015]

Over easy or hard-boiled?

I’d like to say I’m pretty easygoing, but I’m not as easygoing as my mom. She’s pretty amazing, patient, never complains, goes where you want to go, doesn’t have an agenda or ego in the game. When we were in Las Vegas attempting to share a bed together with my friend, she offered to sleep on the floor, Thai-style. I forbid it, but couldn’t imagine my first-generation American butt on the floor either so we all slept like sardines that night.

Unfortunately, I go from hungry to hangry in under three seconds and have had to learn the hard way to carry snacks and deal with my hunger quickly rather than keep looking for a restaurant that looks good. My decision making abilities drop down to nonexistent and my partner has had to learn how to treat me like the petulant child I seem to become.

[at Wat Mahathat, Sukhothai, 2013]

Two minds but one road

During the early days in our relationship we traveled to Sukhothai for Songkran (the Thai New Year). If you aren’t aware, it’s known as the water-splashing festival or countrywide water fight. Sukhothai is known for its UNESCO World Heritage Site housing 193 ruins from the 13-14th centuries.

We took a bus to the ruins, rented bikes, and had a great day taking photos and exploring the park. But apparently I got ‘hungry at him’, eventually though we found some noodles to calm my nerves and decided it was time to head back into the city. Traffic was also starting to get backed up since folks were getting ready to ‘play water’ around town.

However, we soon discovered that all transport back into the city had stopped. After stunned silences and deliberations we decided there was nothing we could do but walk back. Traffic by then was practically at a standstill as many revelers were splashing around from the back of pickup trucks and other vehicles. We walked by them all, often easy targets as we gave in to the water guns, buckets, and powder. Yes, baby power of various colors are also popular forms of ‘blessings’. Thais came right up to us and spread the goo on our faces.

Our first fight was unequivocally beaten out of us as we dragged our soaking wet asses 12km back to the new city. We laughed over our plight and were grateful that the road had widen considerably and was flat and straight. When we were on the outskirts, we finally were able to hail a motorbike taxi who took us back to our hotel.

He never stood a chance. [Art in Paradise, Chiang Mai, 2013]

How do you travel? 😉 What kind of traveler are you?

41 replies on “What kind of traveler are you?

  1. Loved reading your travels stories! I can totally relate to your story in Sukhothai. My sister and I went camping to this relatively secluded beach around 2 years back. What we hadn’t figured out was that since it was THAT secluded – getting to and from that beach wasn’t the easiest task! We somehow managed to get a cab to the beach but while returning we just couldn’t get any transportation. Eventually we decided to walk to the closest town which was 8kms away and it wasn’t a pleasant walk since it was a hot/humid sort of a day. Thankfully half way into our walk, we managed to get a rickshaw to drive us to the town. (pheww)

    I love planning itineraries and doing my research before travelling but once I am on the trip – I am flexible with my itinerary. I usually go with my mood for the day and set aside a lot of time to just walk around the place. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad to hear we weren’t the only ones caught out trying to get back to our hotel! 😀 I mean, it sucks that it happened, but that just means we’re spontaneous and intrepid travelers, right? 😛

      I enjoy planning too, but I get burned out, and want some surprises so I try to find a balance. Sounds like we have similar styles?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hahah yes! And all the spontaneity leads to some crazy adventures.

        Same. By the 4-5th date I’m done with the itineraries and just go with the flow. Which is why I love European countries – since they have fun walking tours that you can do instead of just hopping to touristic places. 😁

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I do enjoy tours. I often forget that I do and think of the price or another excuse, but they’re worth it. I need to remember that. Thanks 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I love to research. I use My Maps in Google Maps to pin places of interest for shopping, eating, sightseeing, where the hotel is and when we get there we can decide what to do or not. It gives us plenty of options. And as we walk everywhere in city centers, we can see how long it will take to get from one place to another and how we feel at the time. Are the french fries worth the 30 minute walk in Amsterdam? Damn straight they are!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahhaa. OMG. You are more tech savvy than we are. Sounds like smart planning. I need to take a note out of your book that’s for sure.

      We were just talking about you two earlier today (Huahin came up). 😀 Hope you are well and good, xxoo

      Like

  3. I like to research, and I certainly want my accommodation sorted (forever haunted by the weekend in Amsterdam where we decided to ‘wing it’ which was a huge disaster). These days I look more at “places to eat and drink” than “things to see”. I like to wander with only a vague agenda. I also kind of like it when things go off-piste, like having to walk 4km in the rain to the outskirts of Sheffield to buy a laptop charger because I forgot mine. The reward for that was we ended up walking back through the Antiques Quarter and having a very fine afternoon tea in an antique shop cafe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ahhh, lovely example. It can get interesting when you have to do something as seemingly mundane as find a charger or get a haircut. I know folks that recommend doing just that simply to get off the beaten track. ❤

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  4. How nice to read your travel stories…that’s about as close as I’ll get for the foreseeable future.
    I’m not much of a planner when taking a holiday, usually I just wait and see. I like keeping all options open. Normally get a hotel for the first night or two and then go from there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of those types, eh? Travel has changed so much in recent time and as your comment eluded to it’s going to change even more in the time of COVID. Sigh.

      I’ve bounced between planning a little and a lot and I’ve decided it suits me better to over rather than under plan. With that said, I don’t like to look at too many pictures of a place before I go…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The only thing for me is that while I enjoy hole in the wall restaurants and gritty travel aesthetics…I love luxury hotels, so there’s a bit of a mix in there haha

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I also don’t know how we ever traveled without smart phones. I’ll never forget my trip to Europe in 2017, when I discovered Google Maps works for public transport as well as driving/walking. Life-changing!

    I used to be really good at planning and organizing before a trip. But the older I get (and the more I travel), the less organized I am and the more I just wing it. Which generally works just fine, although I wish I could be a little more organized about packing/forgetting/losing things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That reminds me, I feel like I plan for things that don’t need planning but fail to see what I needed to do until it’s happening. 😛

      Google maps for transportation! Egats. That is life-changing!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It was fun reading this post. It reminded me of many places that i’ve been to and goof ups on those trips. It’s us three friends who have been travel buddies since last seven years. So it’s almost like, written on stone who is in charge of what. As for me, i’m a laid back person. I don’t take any interest in planning out, but i’m good at researching stuff, so that’s my department.
    And couple of incidents have happened but i think those are the ones that we remember the most, more than the places we’ve travelled to.
    One was when we had gone to a beach in Goa and while coming back, we had opted a local bus. Since it was the last bus from the beach, there were mostly men. When most of the people got down at their stops, 3-4 men were left in the bus and it was me and my bestfriend. Now these men started singing and making weird comments on us and imagining the rape cases in India were on an increase, i asked the bus driver to stop the bus. Then me and my bestfriend hit the highway at night and walked all the way till the airport. Approximately one hour. Then we hired a taxi who reached us safely to our hotel. Asking for lift from a stranger on the highway was out of question.
    That’s when we realized sometimes it’s wise to plan out things, especially when it’s just girls traveling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OMG. That’s crazy. Reminds me of a story my friend told me in Ecuador when some guys hijacked an overnight bus and made everyone get out and lie on the grass face down. Robbed everyone, then told them to count to 100 or something and took off.

      Yeah, when you travel alone or as a woman, you have to go with your gut and be super careful about everything it seems. Even with my partner, in a ‘safe’ country, I take things in…

      But I loved your reminder that it is those crazy episodes, barring something extremely bad, that we remember the most.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t like planning itineraries. (Maybe I’m lazy.) Traveling with my late husband, I usually let him make the hotel reservations. After that, we planned as we went. Now, when it’s my turn to make reservations–to find a cabin or house to rent or choose where we will meet–I do the research and make the reservations, and it usually turns out good. But now that my daughters are grown up, I often let them do the planning, and that’s just fine with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Maybe as we get older we are okay going with the flow. But, I suppose you could make the argument for the other direction too!

      Yeah, I’ve been burned with not doing due diligence with hotel reservations, so I completely understand doing that kind of research. Prob spend the most time with that, actually, unless there’s flying involved, but not even then…

      You sound like an easygoing traveler, Nicki! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I’m also a planner! Not to the point of making detailed itineraries, but I definitely cannot go to a place without a hotel reservation. I’m surprised foreigners can (normally) travel in Thailand without their passport? Here in China you must show it when checking in a hotel… and, as per the law, you are supposed to carry it with you at all times! But I don’t think most people do that… just a pic on the phone is fine. Because what if you lose it??

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had my passport to check into the hotel since I made the reservations, so I didn’t think he’d need his too. I keep copies of our first page in my purse, because like you, who wants to carry it everywhere as you are most likely to lose it out than at home 😛

      But the photo page was not good enough during COVID, we needed to show that he had not left the country which made no sense because anyone who has left obviously would have gone through quarantine and been thoroughly approved!

      Like

  9. I loved this post Lani!
    I am definitely not an over-planner but my wife is. So this of course means she plans all our travel together as she is the one with the greater need to control things. And she would not trust me to do it to her standards anyway 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahhaa. I can totally relate. 😛 Yeah, he’s more likely to just start walking around while I would be like ‘no! wait, where are we going? what are we doing.’ Ahhhh, checks and balances. Thanks!

      Like

  10. Hello Lani , This is Michael Guys Husband. Sorry Guy has not gotten back to you. He has been having some Vision/ health issues and is not typing. He does enjoy your emails. I will type for him what he says and help him get caught up.

    Please send a private email and I will give you more info.

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    Liked by 1 person

  11. I confess for foreign countries, I tend to plan sites for myself /with him to see. After all, in my mind, we’re spend a couple thousand dollars for the whole trip and we probably won’t ever be back again…especially somewhere in Europe or Asia.

    He’s more lax and he definitely prefers outdoor sites and strolling about looking at architecture, etc. I like that too, but I enjoy certain museums, galleries that reflect a country’s cultural heritage, etc. And because I took a course on stained glass art, visiting great very old cathedrals especially with centuries old stained glass art, I do wish to see.

    I occasionally point out certain things in the art so he’s seeing something not easily noticed.

    I would be lousy on a wildlife safari in foreign country or just sticking to woods/jungle. To me, it’s almost an insult not to see cultural stuff in a foreign country and interact even if distantly with locals before leaving a foreign country.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It can be good to visit with an agenda, with cultural sites in mind because it’s important to you and it’s important to pay attention to what we value.

      I enjoy museums, the cuisine (even if I don’t like it, I’m curious enough), but I think I like walking around the most so I gauge some satisfaction from that (or not!) in itself. Even a pop into a grocery store can be fun!

      But I agree, if you’re going to invest the time and money to visit someplace far away, make it count!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Wow, you’ve been to such amazing places! I love to see your photos and hear your stories. My husband and I are both mostly homebodies, I think. We’ve been on a couple big trips–our honeymoon to Ireland and another trip back to Ireland with several days in France. Even when the language isn’t a barrier (or my lack of a language), low-key travel is best for us. My husband can’t do crowds–so that leaves out vacays in Asian cities, I think. Vienna is still on our list of places we want to go–I want to see an opera there and hear an orchestra play a Viennese walz there. And I want to take my sister, who is more adventurous, to Paris for her 40th! Anyplace walk-able I love, but 12km is no joke!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! Actually, I feel like I’m not really a big traveler because you meet so many amazing people who have been everywhere, but thanks. I guess it’s all relative. 🙂

      And I’m envious of the places you’ve been. I really want to do a big European tour – sigh. One day, right?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, the older I get the more I’m like, ya know those European river cruises are starting to look pretty good. But I’d be too tempted to jump ship and swim to shore all the time to get a better look!

        Liked by 1 person

  13. Enjoyed reading this so much, Lani!
    I laughed, I nodded excitedly in agreement, I pondered over interestings …. it makes me miss travelling very much. And at the same time, remember fondly the many trips I’ve taken.

    I think to sum it up, I am a bit of a mad pre-trip planner so that once the vacation begins, I can kick back and enjoy. I am quite happy to change whatever plans I’ve made in terms of activities, so long I get my time to run in the morning, and delicious food to enjoy all day long.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, you’re making me contemplate what are the elements of a good trip. And I miss traveling too, which is why I thought this post might be nice, a look back and even a head towards the future as we think about the topic.

      Also, there is something to be said about planning ahead so you can enjoy the fruits of your labor – but going with the flow since the unexpected is always around the next street bend 😛 Thanks!

      Like

  14. This is such a thought-provoking post – what kind of traveler are you. That is annoying the hotel needed a copy of your partner’s passport eventhough it’s internal travel. That said, travel policies can change at the drop of a hat – and COVID-19 is an example of that.

    I’m the kind who will overprepare for a trip. I’ll make lists and then lists of lists of where I want to go, research how long it will take to get somewhere and have a plan if I can’t visit a place on a certain day, from the doctors and dentists I am able to see in another country. I do not like traveling in big groups and feel best traveling by myself or with one other person who is also equally an over-prepared traveller.

    I feel more relaxed on a trip knowing I have prepared and researched as much as I can about the foreign destination. If I come home from the trip in one piece, then I call it a successful trip 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You sound like a sensible traveler! I needed your energy the past couple of days. I under-planned because it was only a short trip to a neighboring city. Or I should say I thought I planned enough! But as you mentioned, there are unknowables – gotta do the best we can in the moment!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Your travel stories are super fun. We are spontaneous with our traveling, and it helps that we do not need very much. Of course, I understand this can be very different with a child or with a big family. I honestly do not prefer traveling in a group because everything feels like a big production!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I agree. It cannot be helped with family, and when you are in a group you pretty much have to defer to ‘majority rules’. 😛 Thanks!

      Like

  16. What fun stories, Lani! Thanks for sharing them with us. And as you can probably imagine from chats we’ve had in the past, my answer to “What kind of traveler are you?” is it depends. When I was traveling for work or arranging group trips, definitely an over-planner. Just doesn’t make sense to underplan and have an angry boss upset about a late meeting. Or like with a group trip that included a person on a wheelchair, it made sense to check walking routes and hotels that accommodated people with disabilities. (Getting the hotel to measure the height of stairs we had to carry said person up on before the trip was something I’ll never forget.)

    But if I’m on my own or with close friends and family? I’ll have a general idea of transit and the places in town to avoid but I’m a lot more laid back. I do make sure the places to stay (hostel, hotel or otherwise) are booked for most of the trip though. Lesson learned from a lot of bad experiences!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Your comment reminded me of when I found a website re: what places were wheelchair friendly in Thailand. And you know what an impossibility that is over here… I know the Western world is getting a lot of flack these days, but wheelchair accessibility is pretty much nonexistent in SE Asia.

      Good points all around, and thanks for sharing, Daisy 🙂 xoxo

      Like

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    Like

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