AtoZChallenge | V is for Vacation and obsessively planning our Scottish adventure.

When my alarm went off at 4:00 am, I was immediately awake and hit off rather than snooze. An unusual move for me. I grabbed my phone, turning on the flashlight feature so I could see my way downstairs without waking up my sleeping family members. When I reached our home office, I sat in front of our desktop computer hitting the escape key to wake it up. I navigated quickly to the website I needed and got into the virtual queue to buy tickets. Even though I’d logged in within five minutes of tickets going on sale, the covered grandstand was already sold out. I grabbed two for the uncovered section and felt a sense of relief once I finished entering my credit card information through paypal and saw the pop up message that everything had been processed successfully. On a whim, I also emailed them to ask if there was a wait list for the covered section and quickly got a reply that they would put me on it. We had our tickets to the Braemar Gathering for the Highland Games this coming September.

I have spent so much time planning our upcoming trip to Scotland that we will actually spend less time in the country than the time I’ve invested in mapping out our adventures. The Braemar games also weren’t the only time I got up during the night to buy tickets for a planned vacation. I’m sure it won’t be my last.

While many people like to travel without a plan and let things unfold organically, I’ve learned that I am not one of them. I took an exceptionally frustrating trip to New York City many years ago where we tried that approach. We ended up spending the day shopping and doing little else. We kept just missing the start time for shows or events, restaurants we wanted to try were closed or full or we weren’t in the right location for other attractions. I vowed never again to travel without a plan. Now, I overplan.

And guess what? I love it.

A nice benefit of my obsessive creation and editing of my well mapped out itinerary is that it increases my excitement for my trip and extends the experience for me. As I meticulously map out each day, figuring out transfers and checking distances so I can maximize what we see and do during the trip, I feel like I am there. When I come across a new destination or fun event during my research, I get a surge of excitement and wonder can we possibly fit it in? I spend the next few days playing with our schedule until I’m happy with the changes and new adventure I was able to squeeze in. I can almost always squeeze it in.

I understand it’s not for everyone, but I have enjoyed every second of my vacation planning, other than booking the rental car. I’m a little nervous about that one, considering the whole “other side of the road driving requirement”, but how else can we get off the beaten path and hike through the Highlands and the Isle of Sky?

Below is a sample of some of the places we’re hoping to visit during out trip. I’m still planning though so things could change!

I got an email a few months after buying my Braemar Gathering tickets. They had an opening in the covered grandstand and we were able to upgrade our tickets! It’s added insurance against the inevitable Scottish rains dampening that day for us.

As I’ve organized our trip to Scotland, I’ve already fallen in love with the country. It reminds me a lot of Maine. I’m hoping our current pandemic doesn’t impact our travel, but if it does I’ve got a plan for that.

Why does this bring me bliss? The planning allows me to envision our trip and live in the excitement again and again before we ever step foot in the country. It brings moments of pure bliss.

What type of traveler are you?


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I’m participating in a Blogging A-Z Challenge for April 2020. I will be posting new content every day this month except most Sundays. Each post is associated with a letter of the alphabet, starting with A and ending with Z. My theme for the challenge is Bliss. To read more of my A to Z posts from this year, click HERE.

36 thoughts on “AtoZChallenge | V is for Vacation and obsessively planning our Scottish adventure.

  1. Tamara says:

    So every blue pin is a destination you plan to visit? When are you leaving? How many days will you spend in Scotland?
    I’ve never been, but I hear great things about the Highland Games. Are you and hubby going to wear kilts? So exciting.

    I am usually a minimalistic vacation planner for different reasons (I already know more or less where I want to go and what I want to do there, I am too busy to sit down and click myself through maps, Tripadvisor articles, tourist office websites because once you’re there it’s like Pinterest, it never ends).

    I totally get what you’re saying about the thrill of anticipation, though – I experience this upon researching fictional trips. interestingly enough, I wrote about one to Ireland just a few weeks ago!

    My V is about Swiss values:
    https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2020/04/a-z-2020-switzerland-values.html

    Liked by 2 people

    • Weekends in Maine says:

      Yes, we have lots of destinations planned. It’s going to be busy as we’re only there for a few weeks but every time I looked into a stop it was so interesting so I had to add it to our list. We’re planning to go in September. I’m hoping things will be opened back up by that time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Arti says:

    I’m with you Karen. Ditto to : “The planning allows me to envision our trip and live in the excitement again and again before we ever step foot in the country.”
    Over the years I’ve had both types of holidays–the well planned ones (my honeymoon was the first one of many! Ha! HA!) and the completely organic ones. Luckily, both have worked out well.
    Our family is fond of road trips and when we were living in the UK, we’d pick a part of the coast and just go exploring–using the Good Pub’s guide to stop for food and lodging–so minimum planning but maximum fun–as long as one didn’t mind sudden showers and grey skies.
    One of our road trips (12 years ago) was from Scotland to England—we stopped at all the castle cities en route–Loved it.
    Scotland is stunning and the people are so, so warm and friendly. It’s a place we’ve visited often and we all love it.
    Hope you’ll include a Scotch tour or two in your itinerary.
    They’re fun:)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Weekends in Maine says:

      It’s great to hear you had such a wonderful experience in Scotland. It looks amazing.

      We are planning to do a tour of the distilleries on Islay. The whiskey from there is my husband’s absolute favorite and he’s really looking forward to visiting them.

      Like

  3. Aarti says:

    oh I so get you..I am the official tourist guide for my family and extended family..I spend hours and hours drawing up itineraries, identifying shows, restaurants, shopping havens and what not. And then God forbid if any one of them does not please even one member I get an earful!!
    But I love it..I agree..I start enjoying the holiday way before it actually starts..

    Liked by 2 people

  4. kristin says:

    You have really planned it! I have not traveled on those kinds of trips. Usually I’m staying with family and we just do things on the spur of the moment. I hope things are opened back up by September. They say a second wave may hit in the fall. Of course, we aren’t even through with the first wave!

    Finding Eliza

    Liked by 1 person

  5. mollyscanopy says:

    Your ticket buying sounds like my grocery shopping these days — getting up early to be there at 6 am. I would much rather be planning a vacation — and like you, I map mine out like clockwork. I hope things look better with C19 by September and you will be able to travel safety on your well-planned vacation!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. dyannedillon says:

    I may not be the most organized person in the world, but I do organize a vacation well, although maybe not as well as you! If you stumble up on Brigadoon when you’re there, let me know!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Liam says:

    Oh yes! I’m a vacation planner. I love reading guides and figuring out itineraries. It’s not that I’m not spontaneous, it’s just that I want to eradicate time wasted on figuring out what to do next and make sure we get in out can’t-miss activities.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Archana (@yenforblue) says:

    Wow! Such details!! We did that with a few of our holidays.. planned right down to places to eat.. It worked out quite well but did need spending a lot of time on research. However we chickened out on our last 3 holidays and went with the group tours!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Weekends in Maine says:

      I’ve done some great group tours too. They can be a lot of fun. When we went to Peru I didn’t want to risk not getting to see Machu Picchu as there is limited access so we went with a tour and it worked out great.

      Like

  9. Trudy says:

    I went to Scotland last August and loved loved loved it!! We happened to be in Edinburgh during the Festival Fringe and even though it was super crowded, I loved the energy of the city. AND… because we were there during the festival we were able to attend the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Oh. my. goodness. My husband and I loved that… it was a highlight.

    Liked by 1 person

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