A few days or weeks, how long is ideal travel?
Reflecting upon the different travels we did over the last couple of years, it has always been a challenge to find the right amount of time and getting the most out of our vacation. We did a three week trip, a two week trip and a three day trip. but what is the right amount of time? To narrow it down I think that other than the obvious factor i.e. cost, there are two key things that we should consider:
1. Your Personality
2, The Experience
I won't go into the different personalities and how each one can tailor their travel needs. What I will do instead is tell you what I found based on my wife's and my personality. We like to explore with the big picture in mind. We're the type that ran through the Louvre in a few hours, walked all of London while only going inside key places in 2 days, got through all of Amsterdam in a day and half. We like to explore as much as possible but not actually spend time going through each place in detail. We do like to know the history and the tales about the place so we'll take the free walking tours but not so much that we'll go into the castles and get intimate with the stories. That is our idea of travel, how does this affect our trip planning?
Well, it helps us think about how much we're actually going to see in a day. Since we're more about the quantity, we can cover more ground in a day. Knowing this helps us plan our trips. First we'll lay out all the places we want to see and connect the dots as we go along the trip. We'll set the starting point and the end point for the day and if time allows us to check everything off the list great, if not, no regrets! There are always unexpected issues or unknown limitations along the way, for example, on our trip to London, the Big Ben was wrapped and under construction, sure it was a bummer but that's only one of the million things amazing about the place. If you've done your research, there should be a lot of places to see in any given destination, you just have to make the best of it. You should never have regrets!!! Instead, it's something to look forward to in the future.
The second trait that dictates our planning process is the type of experience we want out of the trip. Are we looking for a cultural, gastronomical, historical, or just an overall medley of things? A lot of it depends on the place as well obviously, I mean when we were planning Germany, the history, the beer, the culture and the beer were important to us, when we were looking at Iceland, just the landscapes were the factor, anything else was just the cherry on top.
It's really important to understand the type of experience you're looking to get out of a place because at the end of the day, that's what counts, it's what you'll carry in your mind and hopefully find yourself wanting more at the end of the trip.
So thinking about the two factors besides cost, it will really put your planning process into perspective. Sure it will never be perfect because some things will fall off, but there will always be gems that you pick up along the way. Considering cost, personality and experience you can calculate the time required at each place. For example, when looking at our restless personality and wanting to get a relaxing trip by the beach sipping on mojitos, I think five to seven days is plenty or we start to lose our minds. If combining the fact that we like the big picture and are looking for a cultural, foody and a historical experience in a big city like Paris, three to five days is good enough. All the above is considering you don't want to break the bank because that's what we always aim for.
Now, I know approximately how long I want to spend in each city/place, but how long do I really want to travel in total? This really comes down to balancing your stamina and wallet. It also matters how many places you want to see in a trip. On our first eurotrip, we were thinking about putting Paris, Munich and Rome on the itinerary. However, we primarily wanted to see the Southern half of Germany. So we decided to cross off Rome and focus on Germany and Paris. While booking we added Amsterdam because it was the cheapest way to travel. After the trip we realized it was the perfect decision or the trip would have been rushed.
Based on our experience so far, we found seven to fourteen days to be perfect balance between mental and bank status. Obviously there is no way to generalize things because it depends on the trip, we've taken a three week trip to Europe and had fun, and also took a three day trip to Iceland and had equal satisfaction. However, we always look for a starting point of seven/fourteen days and go about planning the rest.
Hope this helps all of you in your adventure planning and hope you get to enjoy and experience the vast awesomeness the world has to offer.