Best Laid Plans

BLP Ep #141: Travel Notes on the Fly

April 10, 2023

Notes from the Road!

I thought it would be fun to share some travel planning thoughts . . . while traveling!

First: Planner Matchmaking Request!

The request from Vickie: ” . . . I need a relatively portable/lighter (ideally smaller than 5x8in), hardbound (no spiral!) planner, w monthly and week on 2 page spreads, gel pen friendly paper, not too much extra crap and none of that achieve goals inspiration vibes.”

Full disclosure Vickie is an IRL very close friend of mine and honestly one of my original planning inspirations!  

Ideas I had for her included:

Please send any ideas my way!

Next: Travel Thoughts from the Episode

  1. Think about how you want to feel at the end of the vacation as you are planning. Rested? Inspired? Pampered and cared for? Energized?  This may influence your itinerary!
  1. Sometimes keeping things more minimal can be more relaxing AND fun.  The day of the recording, we hit the Smithsonian museums. SO MANY of them sounded awesome but we only made it to 2.  It was plenty (and we will have to come back).  Sometimes going deep is better than wide! 
  1. Appreciate the moments on vacation when you’re just doing regular things, but in a more relaxed way because there is no rush to school or work!   Examples: a less hurried workout; hours spent watching the kids explore a new playground or make friends on the DC Mall while you lie down in the grass. (Can highly recommend both of those things!)
  1. Don’t forget that transition time while traveling can be fun/interesting too!  Subway rides, walks from one place to another, or even waiting in line (as long as it’s not hideously uncomfortable or something) is just all . . part of it.  PLAN for transition time but also treat it as part of your experience!
  1. You (and/or your travel partners) get to decide what you pack into a day, and you are allowed to choose more ‘chill’ plans some days.  You are allowed to ignore the packed itineraries you come across (YouTube, social media, travel websites) if you want to. You probably can’t see EVERYTHING an area has to offer AND relax AND have lots of relaxed family time.  You get to pick and there’s no ‘right’ way to do a family vacation!
  1. Packing cubes.  Okay, we don’t have many yet, but I am convinced.
  1. If you have a larger group of people, it’s probably best to make most plans (for the main event of each day, anyway) and reservations in advance.  The analysis paralysis that can ensue when no one can agree on a restaurant or activity can REALLY drain the fun.  Also, more and more things require tickets ahead of time these days! The choices don’t have to meet some perfect standard. ALSO: if with multiple people, you could divide up the planning by day.
  1. Go in with an attitude of gratitude and humor.  Everything is not going to be social-media-perfect.  Some places are understaffed.  If people are trying and being kind that’s really what is important.  Sometimes the things that go terribly wrong make the best memories.


  • Reply Katie April 10, 2023 at 6:32 am

    The Lechtturm weekly planner would be perfect for Vickie!

  • Reply Amy April 10, 2023 at 8:40 am

    What about a Hobinichi Weeks? Not sure if it’s too small for her but I use one for work along with a small notebook. It works out well.

  • Reply Ry April 10, 2023 at 10:08 am

    I would say the Unbound Dated Planner, though there are some goal setting pages at the front.

  • Reply Grateful Kae April 10, 2023 at 10:19 am

    Ooh, of course I have SO many thoughts on the travel part! I totally agree that you have to know yourself and your group and what works best for you. Travel is definitely not one size fits all. People have very different tolerances for activity and sleep and opinions on how much is too much or too little. For example, we are just generally NOT “go somewhere at 7 a.m. on vacation” people. For our Costa Rica trip, it gets dark there early around 5:30 pm. and wildlife is active early in the morning, so I kept reading how you “have” to go on tours or hikes “first thing in the morning”…. but we just don’t like to do that really! We enjoy staying up a little later at night and having a more leisurely morning to enjoy a slower breakfast and our coffee or tea… so we didn’t. And it was totally fine.

    Like you, I also generally abide by the approximately two things per day rule, BUT I find this can vary wildly depending on the location. In places like Europe you might have many attractions in very close proximity, or you might be doing a lot of walking around to just visit squares/fountains or doing a quick tour of a church or that sort of thing. So sometimes it can seem on paper like you’re doing so many things, but they are all quicker/ shorter. For bigger activities like touring a museum or basically anything that takes more than a couple or few hours, yes- then I definitely try to limit to probably just 1-2 of those per day, depending. Or combine one bigger thing + 1-2 smaller things etc. Also love just sitting in a pubic space/ park and relaxing or people watching- this definitely counts as a “thing” for me!

    We very, very rarely, if ever, make meal reservations, however, though I can see maybe this is necessary for certain types of restaurants or locations. We generally prefer to have as much flexibility as possible and don’t like to be locked in to having to be to dinner at a certain time! But we are more micro-brew type people vs fancy/ trendy restaurant people, so maybe this plays a role in us usually being able to walk-in places pretty easily! 🙂 I also agree that it’s increasingly important these days to look ahead and try to get a feel for which activities require pre-booking and which you can just wing. I try to pre-book as few things as possible, but sometimes there’s just no avoiding it and it can be really, really important!

    Finally, for us/me personally, my favorite “travel hacks” are: 1) to go on as long of a trip as possible 😉 (which I know we don’t see eye to eye on 😊 ), because this allows me to feel freer/more flexible/not as rushed during the trip, when I have more days to work with (plus, I just like to keep vacationing as long as possible 😜) and 2) TRY to avoid peak times as much as possible! (i.e. I would rather pull kids out of school to travel a different week vs travel over major holidays, for example… though this one gets harder when they’re older/high school age…But prices and crowds and availability and just everything is better (in my opinion) if you can avoid when EVERYONE else is there too….)

    Annnnnd, I think my comment is now officially longer than your whole post. 😂 Whoops, sorry!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 10, 2023 at 12:37 pm

      I think I’d be less passionate about dinner reservations if I didn’t have a 5 yo who gets HANGRY and the fact that a table for 5+ can be harder to come by. (You’re right that I’m also into finding interesting or highly rated restaurants so that probably factors in too!)

      • Reply Grateful Kae April 10, 2023 at 6:48 pm

        Hahaha hangry doesn’t look good on anyone, does it!! Except *maybe* G can pull it off, cuz she’s pretty darn cute.

  • Reply chrissie April 10, 2023 at 3:02 pm

    Your friend should try the Jibun Techo!

  • Reply Vickie April 11, 2023 at 8:49 am

    Thanks to you all who made suggestions! My response will indicate what kind of a “particular” (aka high-maintenance) friend that Sarah has had to deal with for years. I actually have tried all suggested options and had the following experiences. a) Leuchtturm weekly is a nice layout and decent paper, but does NOT have a monthly spread. But I buy one annually to keep at my work desk for a brain dump set up! b) Every year, I attempt the Hobonichi weeks, only to quit after a few weeks. The Tomoe paper is not gel pen friendly and I don’t like the yellow hue. Also, the weekly spread is only on one page and a bit cramped. BUT it’s the perfect size! c) I’ve also tried JIbun Techo Biz. I love the paper and the vertical week layout, BUT why is the printed layout so aggressively dark and busy? I also wish there were better portability options, so it doesn’t get destroyed in my work bag.

    HOWEVER, I did decide to take advantage of the April start editions for the Hobonichi weeks and Jibun Techo and give those two another try, and found some placeholder covers. If either of the planners take, I’ll look into investment covers.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 11, 2023 at 9:09 am

      yay 🙂 🙂 🙂 Agree about Jibun! They need a light-background option!!!

      • Reply Nicole April 24, 2023 at 5:39 pm

        I’m late to listening to this episode, but I think the inamio sounds like a good fit for your friend. It may not be small enough, but has everything else. Also maybe out of stock for this year.

  • Reply Angela April 11, 2023 at 4:13 pm

    I suggest the Agendio 5.5 x 8″ planner. Completely customizable, and beautiful paper that handles gel pens and felt tips so well. Hardback and spiral available in so many colors. This is the best planner I have found- can be made to look minimal and professional, or colorful and full of extras. Also, the price is amazing for such a great planner!

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 11, 2023 at 9:06 pm

      Did not know they had hardback!!!! I need to give them another look!

  • Reply Jami April 16, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    I’m super curious how long it takes for your family (kids) to get back into a routine after travel? We’re finishing up a trip that has had some late nights and a lot of stimulation that has resulted in some pretty emotional moments of my 9-year old. (We’re also on day 10 of travel within an12 day period) I feel like it’s going to take a while to settle back down.

    • Reply Sarah Hart-Unger April 17, 2023 at 10:14 am

      so we got back on a FRIDAY which was wonderful as the weekend helped serve as a reset. Monday things were pretty back to normal (well, other than a crazy flooded week with 2 days off of school!!!!)

  • Reply Faith April 29, 2023 at 1:01 pm

    I just came across this 1Canoe2 planner and it just might fit the bill!

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