Tuesday, August 19, 2014

6.234 Back Home, Vacation From Vacation.

I'm back home after a week long trip to Montreal (I came back yesterday evening). Initially I thought that as my trip neared to its end, I would miss Montreal more and would not want to leave. The reality though was that I couldn't wait to go back home when the end finally came. Going on vacation to cities takes a lot of work planning the trip itself. I realized that it's not really a vacation when you go to the city (where shopping is the name of the game), but rather it's more about traveling. This makes me rethink Paris as my honeymoon destination because if I wanted a real vacation, I should go to sunny tropical destinations like Cuba or Hawaii or Bali or the Carribeans etc where I can just relax and do absolutely nothing. Before when I thought about traveling, I would think about how I would rather go to places like Europe where I can explore and learn about the place. But now I get it. If I want an actual vacation, go to a tropical island.

I wanted to go to Montreal as my first official trip to see first hand what it takes to travel. Because Montreal is within Canada, it's not too close yet not too far from Toronto, but still different enough to feel like you're in another country. I learned a great deal from this trip and I'm going to keep it in mind for any future trips.

1. Give more time to plan.
Although I gave myself a couple months to read a book guide, I didn't give myself enough time to actually take that information and make a solid itinerary. This was problematic because I had to quickly throw an itinerary together while on the trip (mostly in the evenings or early mornings) and this stressed me out (which is completely opposite to what you're supposed to be doing on a vacation, relaxing).

2. Do your research, don't make impulsive decisions.
This is an extension to the point above. There was one restaurant that we impulsively went to that I didn't do any research on. Had I done the research beforehand we would have never gone there since we were totally unprepared to be eating at a fine dining establishment.

3. Plan more but plan less.
Some days we weren't as efficient with our time, and as a result, couldn't make the most out of the day. There were a lot of sights and activities that I wanted to fit into our trip but we couldn't do a lot of it because our time was limited. If I had made an itinerary, there might have been a chance to do more, but also keep in mind that it's not always possible to do everything you want.

4. Keep it flexible, weather.
Everyday, except the day we arrived and the day we left, was rainy and gloomy. It was sure bad luck on our side. Weather is something we can't control so we should always keep in mind that some activities we had planned may not happen. It's always good to have a Plan B in those cases. Also, remember to pack some warm clothing especially when the trip is near the end of summer... I brought one cardigan and 90% of the time it was chilly while I was there.

5. Maps.
Thank goodness for the Montreal paper map we happened to stumble upon while walking around in the mall. Google Maps and the GPS also helped. The GPS on my phone was a bit wonky but Google Maps helped a lot. I loved how I could star all the places we wanted to visit on my Macbook and then see it on my Google map on my phone. Best application ever.

6. Navigation.
I learned on this trip just how bad I am with navigation and direction. I knew I was bad, but I didn't realize I was that bad.

7. Budget.
I think our biggest problem was budgeting. The problem was that we never set a budget... for anything. I was so busy planning everyday that I completely forgot about budgeting for the trip. This is why it's better to plan prior to the trip because at least then we would have an idea about how much money we needed and were going to spend.

8. Everything adds up.
This is an extension to the point above. Everything is more expensive than you might think. A quick stop to the local coffee shop put us back $20 for two people. That's just a coffee and a baked item. Also, depending on how many days you stay, it can quickly add up. If we ever go on a week long trip again, I'm definitely going to bring my own coffee.

So now I still have this week off to actually relax. It's why they say it's a vacation from my vacation. Seriously. It was fun but dang it was also tiring. I'm super glad to be back home. And, I can't wait to go to CNE this Saturday :D

And before I end the post, I will share the travel videos I watched to help me pack for my trip. They were all super helpful!

Best packing tips for carry-on suitcase video I've found ever.

Great tips and introduction to packing cubes and other travel accessories that can be useful for packing checked baggage.

Xteeener explained the 3-1-1 rule for airplane travel really well. I never fully understood it but after watching this video I do now. She also gives really great tips as well.

Great tips for short trips, plus I learned where to get a really great toiletry bag from her!

"Do not save what is left after spending, but spend what is left after saving." -Warren Buffet

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