… was that today … is that tomorrow?

Whether you like it or not, traveling is a structured event. Very few of us can literally go out on a whim – throw caution to the wind – wing it. We are in-grained with specific things in mind. We are routine …

  • we need to get up at a certain time
  • we need to eat at a specific hour
  • we need to workout (well, “some people” do) at this hour or that.

It’s really like being at work.

Whenever Tom and I cruise, we are constantly planning things, be they of our own design, or activities included as part of our package. We pre-plan our meals, Tom’s spa appointments, and our shore excurions. What we don’t know about are on-board activities like Trivia parties, Wine tastings, Belly-flop contests (the list of activities go on and on).

Generally, I use my “google calendar” to co-ordinate our days. I set this up as I am planning our vacation to keep track of both time, and expenses — and gives me the option of changing things “on a whim”. It also allows me to share the calendar with Tom so he too can see where we are, or what we were SUPPOSED to be doing at any point and time. Being “google” both he and I can access this calendar at any time, especially when we are apart and see where the other is supposed to be, or doing.

For example — this last cruise we were on, we were given 2 additional complimentary meals and invited to 3 unplanned events … things we didn’t know about until we unlocked our suite and saw the envelopes sitting on the coffeetable.

At the same time as my pre-planned google calendar, I also bring with us, a magnetic dry-erase board I got at the Dollar Store. Magnetic is great, especially when on a ship. Afterall .. every wall in your stateroom/suite is made out of steel. Anything magnetic will stick to them, even magnetic hooks and clamps (more on that later). My dry-erase is an open blank slate. I bring BOTH dry-erase markers AND a few magnets. All this fits in the outer zippered compartment of my luggage, which at the same time creates a harder barrier between anything fragile inside.

a blank canvas is perfect for notes, business cards, and even those souvenir magnets

On this last cruise, we were bombarded with business cards (including one from our state-room attendant with his name and contact number) , invitations, and tickets. These I immediately put on the board with a magnet.

Since this was a 12-day cruise, every morning I wrote reminders of what we had already planned and purchased for the day, and as we did them, they were easily wiped off.

a weekly version is also handy for SPECIFIC PLANNED events

An even more detailed “WEEKLY” dry erase board is also available where you can write everything at once and see just how structured (supposed to be relaxing … remember) your vacation is. For people with children or traveling with groups, this dry-erase can often save hours of disputes and frustration. You can find small “locker-sized” versions of these at most Dollar Stores.

… sticky situations

Of course, there is a simpler way of keeping track — the “Post-it”. They are compact for packing so not taking up much room in your luggage and they come in a variety of colours so you can make assignments as deemed necessary. The only problem with post-its … you have to make sure you are buying the REALLY STICKY ONES, afterall, these little “notes” are intended to be stuck to paper, not steel or wood.

No matter which method you prefer, you have to find a location where everyone is going to see them. The obvious location, since everyone has to use it — the bathroom door. Even your maid/stateroom attendant has to clean your bathroom, so its a great place to write down special requests from them if you don’t see them often — but be careful what you ask for … one a recent cruise, our suite attendant was a woman named Corona (sweet young lady who was always going out of her way to make sure we had eveything). One day, Tom asked if he could get an extra bar of soap. When we came back later that day from our excursion Corona had left us MORE than a handful of soap, shampoo, AND body lotions — and later asked if we wanted even more!

So, if you’re a “structured traveler”, or just a control freak … PLANNING is key. Always keep track of things you NEED, WANT and are EXPECTED to do. Trust me on this … there is nothing worse than suddenly realizing … “oh crap … I wanted to ….” when you’ve already moved on.

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