Where to next?
Lately I’ve been thinking about how it is we choose our route. I’ve also wondered how others choose where they head to next. We haven’t planned out a route ahead of leaving the UK, which is perhaps a luxury of not having a time frame for our travels. As someone who previously planned out holidays with meticulous detail, my openness – maybe even enjoyment – of travelling open ended like this has surprised me.
So how do we decide where we go next? How do we choose our route? And do we forward plan?
Intuition / Gut Feeling
I’m putting this one first because it’s the one I’m most excited about. Listening to your intuition or gut feeling about where to go. This journey is most importantly giving me the freedom to listen to my intuition, and to follow it. It’s something I think a lot of us are out of touch with, and certainly my “old life” provided plenty of distractions and comfort that meant my intuition was largely ignored. Perhaps even unheard over the rabble of everyday life.
How does this relate to planning our travel route? Well, some days we have a plan and we don’t do it, because it just doesn’t feel right deep in my “gut.” This usually starts brewing the night before as I start to think about the next days plan. I wait until the morning to see if that feeling is still there. There have been many plans cancelled because I woke up feeling like I wanted to stay put / wasn’t ready to leave / or wanted to go in a different direction.
We spent about a week or more “planning” to leave Italy and head into Slovenia, but I just kept asking Nick if we could just wait a little longer. I wasn’t ready to leave Italy. I wasn’t ready to go to Slovenia (even though I absolutely love it now I’ve been). So we stayed around in the Friuli-Venezia Guilia region longer. There was no big ah-ha moment for having left later. We don’t have an epic story to tell of how we missed a hurricane, or motorway pile up because of me delaying us. It just felt right.
On a few occasions we’ve had deadlines to get places by a certain date (e.g. the Tour de France stage in the Pyrenees, meeting my parents in Brisighella). This hasn’t dictated where we go and when, but rather the deadline has guided our route. In some ways I quite like the deadlines because they take us to, and through, places we wouldn’t have maybe chosen.
The downside of deadlines for us, is they can be a bit stressful. It means you can’t linger in a place if you fall in love with it. And with two children who limit the amount of driving possible in a day, it can be stressful making deadlines.
Places To Stay The Night
This is often a deciding factor in where we go, as it’s something we have to think about every day. We mainly use our Camper Stop book and the park4night app, along with France Passion in France. Once we arrive somewhere we’ll then use the internet, Google maps, and getting out and exploring to see what’s around us.
Top factors for us when choosing somewhere to stay include cost and ‘safety’. For us trying to judge ‘safety’ before we reach a place means looking at reviews on park4night and scrutinizing pictures in the Camper Stop book. The most challenging days are when the place we’d hoped to stay doesn’t feel good, and we’re back to searching for somewhere new.
I quickly gave up on the idea of hand washing our clothes – not as “romantic” as I’d hoped I’d find it! Aha! So locating a laundrette is a weekly occurrence. They often lead us to some lovely places we wouldn’t have ordinarily chosen to visit. Or, they slow down how far we can get in a day and make us stay more locally.
Once the washing is one we have time to wander, look for grocery shops, markets, somewhere for ice cream etc. On those washing days we can’t then drive much further, so that helps us choose where we go.
Research / Old Fashioned “Wish Lists”
Sometimes it’s just like back in our old life when I was planning our annual holiday. I get on the internet and see where looks interesting, or we have a few places we know we’d already love to visit. For example, in Slovenia we had Bled and Bohinj on our “wish list”, probably because everyone raves about them. From there I will look to see what else interests, where we can stay nearby, costs etc.
Using that example, we didn’t stop in Bled and headed straight for Bohinj as the reading I’d done suggested Bohinj was a little more chilled out and less crowded. The campsites near Bled were also over our daily budget. In Bohinj we used the Park4Night app to find somewhere to park next to the lake to go exploring. Then we found a more affordable overnight option high up in the mountains but near enough that we could return to Bohinj for some more time by the lake.