Planning Your Own Trip, Travel Pleasure and Addiction

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I haven’t been on a trip that has been planned and booked by anyone other than myself for a long time, with a small exception of a Prague getaway when I accompanied my father and his wife. The reason is very simple: I pretty much think I can do better. Plus, I hate larger groups, and that’s just inevitable when you want to visit more exotic destinations.

Over the past 6 years, I’ve gotten quite good at finding the type of accommodation that I like, at booking my flights, research the destination and making my own itinerary. I like the feeling of always having the option to change the plan. Even when I travel with friends, I prefer smaller groups and I love it when it’s people who  understand we don’t always have to do the same thing at the same time.

I have recently seen a former passion of mine rekindled. Of all Asia, there’s one country I’ve always wanted to visit, Japan. Books, movies, karate practice, anime, manga, the sound of the Japanese language, they’ve all been close to my heart since a very young age. Somehow, over the years, my resolve to one day visit Japan has sort of faded out into the background. Sounds weird when I think the one tattoo I have is of a cherry blossom, right?

Well, over the past couple of months, I’ve been using manga and anime as main source of inspiration for my writing. Don’t ask why, it was more or less an accident. But, like one domino starting a chain reaction, I started to remember my passion, my wish to learn Japanese, my decision to one day go there.

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I decided I wanted it to be during the cherry blossom season and that my first ever visit to Japan will take me to Tokyo and surrounding areas. So, two weeks next spring. I plan to take in the culture, visit the popular sites, buy some mangas and anime DVDs, get a nice calligraphy set to help with my Japanese practice, get to put my (hopefully) by then conversational Japanese to good use, try an onsen and… yes, this is weird, but I want to go to a butler cafe. Two actually, one with male butlers and one with girls playing the butler part. I think it’s fun and so very Japanese.

Should I say I also plan to take so many pictures I’ll fill my laptop’s generous storage space? But I’m getting carried away. What’s the deal with the pleasures of planning my own trip, you ask?

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Well, as I was researching this trip, I thought I’d use a local travel agency that specialized in Asia and other exotic location, Japan being one of their strong points. I checked their offer, the prices, what the cost included, what I was supposed to do while there…

It all sounded so cool! I just needed to save a bit, make the reservation a while before actually going, just to be on the safe side, then wait with my heart going doki-doki for the actual Japanese vacation to happen.

But there was a nagging voice inside my head that just wouldn’t let me rest! I could do so much better at planning my trip! Besides, when would I have time to meet Internet friends with such a packed schedule! And two hours in the heart of otaku culture is too much. Ah, and I can really get a better hotel than that! Mind you, I rarely am able to take two weeks off without needed to work at least a couple hours per day. Well, not unless I want all my blogs to die! And I hate sharing a room with strangers (yes, I’m a spoiled brat at times).

I eventually gave in and started searching for hotels and flights and things to do and I just knew… I wasn’t going to go with the agency trip, I was going to create my own. It most likely will be a solo travel, but if I find interested people who want to join, I won’t say no.

Still, I prefer deciding more than to pay whole vacation and go with someone else’s schedule. I want to decide on the airline and my preferred departure times, I want to choose a hotel to my liking (yes, Internet, price and location are the main criteria), I want do decide for myself what to do every day. I want to be forced to manage with what little Japanese I know than have the comfortable bubble provided by a Japanese-speaking guide.

So I ask you, is it an addiction? Planning your own trip… It seems to be for me. I just can’t go back to anything else. Am I a bit of a travel snob? Or am I well aware of my preferences and willing to take on the extra work of planning?

What’s your take on it?





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