Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Are you a planner?

An excerpt from a conversation with my sister last night in which we discuss our upcoming vacation:

Me: You better be grateful for how much I have put into planning this trip. You owe me a big thank you.
Erin: uh, thanks.
Me: I mean it! I now have pretty much everything booked - the flights, all the hotels and the two excursions - but I will warn you in the next few weeks I will go into uber planning mode and send you some packing lists so we can coordinate.
Erin: I was expecting that you would do that, you love doing this stuff.
Me: I don't love it.
Erin: [laughing] Yes, you do! You hated it when we went to Guatemala and you didn't get to plan the whole thing.
Me: That is not true. I don't have to plan everything, I just want to know what the general plan is so I can be prepared. I don't have to be the one to actually plan it. Planning takes a lot of work.
Erin: You love it.

This exchange went back and forth for a while longer in a similar vein. What I am trying to figure out is why am I so defensive about being a planner? Like it is a bad thing. I am not the type of planner that needs to allocate every last minute of a trip to some activity or another. I think that is annoying. How can you have an unwavering itinerary for a place you have never seen? And some trips require more advanced planning than others. Basically, I just want to feel comfortable that we will have a safe, clean place to sleep each night and that we will have proper transportation to our next stop. Since this particular trip is to Peru, I feel it is important to have these things squared away in advance after some research rather than on a whim while we are there since neither of us speaks Spanish and it will be just the two of us traveling. When we went to Iceland it was a bit more spontaneous because we were roadtripping it. Oh, and because I researched enough to feel there were plenty of sleeping options along the way. I also made sure I knew how far we needed to travel each day in order to get back to Reykjavik to catch our flight home but otherwise we found a place to sleep when we were finished driving for the day. And I was fine with that.

So why do I get so defensive about being a planner? Isn't it a good thing to coordinate our packing so we don't have too much or too little stuff and so we don't take duplicates of things of which we only need one? Especially when the domestic flights have strict baggage weight restrictions. Why does this accusation feel so negative to me?

Personally, I think there is just a lot of negative reaction to "Type A" or "Red" personalities and I probably just get defensive when someone is critical of one of my prominent Type A or Red behaviors. But I am curious as to what you might think. Is this a positive trait that I should just embrace and shed the negative connotations or does it sound a bit obsessive compulsive to you? Also, how do you prepare for vacation? Are you the planner or are you just along for the ride? Please feel free to discuss any or all of these questions.

11 comments:

Suz said...

I am a planner too! I went to England, Scotland, and France with a friend a few years ago and had everyday planned. I love planning. It gets me excited for the trip and makes me feel like I am doing the most with my time on the trip. I think it is a positive trait to be a planner, especially when you travel with someone who likes to enjoy the ride.

David said...

There's nothing wrong with being a planner. Maybe you are just sensitive to the possibility that you might be seen as overbearing by someone who disagrees with your plans.

I'm not a planner myself, but I have definitely seen the value in it - especially if there is someone to help make sure that things don't get over-planned (sounds like you have that balance).

Rachel said...

I am a huge planner. Calendars are my best friend. I don't think that it is a bad trait. It can be a bit compulsive at times, but generally people depend on the type A personalities to keep things in order while planning something expensive or time intense. Without someone like you, anyone on the trip would be lost :).

Tiffany said...

Yes, yes, we have talked about this. I definitely enjoy a plan, especially when we're talking about traveling. It is not a bad trait at all. You wonderful Type A/Red people make the world go round, you do.

By the way, have we planned when you're coming to visit next? We should get on that!

katie said...

Totally a planner. I have to though especially with four kids. I think you should embrace your compulsion. It's traits like this that generally help things run smooth.

Shannon said...

I'm a planner, but it's not really by choice. I married an idea guy who is not so great on the follow-through. His ideas are usually pretty genius, so I take his ideas and put them into motion. We're like a machine, I tells ya!

lizzie said...

i am definitely along for the ride. and i really do appreciate planners! in fact, i wish sometimes i was more of a planner. it might help with a lot of other issues i have...

autumn said...

Man, I am a planner...
I find I get defensive (a smidge about it as well). I think it might appear cooler to be all care free...but the world doesn't work that way. A plan is always good. I don't have to stick to it, but I need to know its there. And um...I'm type A.

Vanessa The Scientist said...

First of all...Peru! You're so lucky.

It is so incredibly nice to travel with somebody that has a plan. This is coming form a non planner who thinks that winging it will turn out splendidly...and it never does. But she never learns and still keeps winging it.

I think that some planners make the non planners feel stupid for not planning and then the non planners start bashing the planner as a defense. But secretly they really appreciate the planner but can't let them know that because the planner wounded their ego. Does that even make any sense? I still have a head cold. I'm going back to bed right now.

Soul-Fusion said...

okay, you have all made me feel much better about my planning ways. Thank you!

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