Rochester (New York)
I have done a fair amount of more adventurous, less structured travel. My wife has done primarily cruises and group trips.
What would be some good places to get my wife the planner to feel comfortable with doing more of a "show up and see what happens" style trip?
on a moderate budget, probably just the two of us, or with another couple. for around 7-10 days.
You can do alot by "pre-planning". Reading up on the area you want to go, knowing the gotchas of travel logistics, and especially having go-to information on-the-go. Once you have an idea where to go, do some research on the typical "top 10" posts to get a quick sense of what there is to do. Find out the major areas and attractions, Google and TripAdvisor are good at this. Now that you have a sense, open up a map and start looking at how to piece things together. This is where I go to narrative blogs to see how people get from point A to B (buses, fairy, bike, plane, walk....). I can see what people like/don't like. This is huge for me, so much so I built my own app to aggregate and find narrative travel info. Also, Lonely Planet can be a great source on 'up-to-date' info. Like, can I walk all 5 towns of Cinque Terre right now? (many times weather has eroded part of the path). What is the border situation like? (top of mind for me as I'm leaving for Croatia in 3 days). With all this pre-planning, take some notes and save to your phone. Evernote is great for this. Create a folder, highlight key information using their Web Clipper browser plugin, share with your wife, and download to your phone. Get an international data plan and book things on the fly. This is exactly how my wife and I travel, now AirBnb makes it even better. Call using Skype when you're connected to a hotel wifi. It's helpful to have an outline of your trip and to identify the things you'd like to do. Some of those things need advanced planning, but some definitely do not. Figuring out what that is, is the key to making a flexible, but enjoyable short trip. (like booking a tour of some sort. for me it's white water rafting on my next trip). I've booked 1 place to stay , a car, 1 tour and it's only 3 days out. Sometimes, you meet people while traveling that give you the best information. That's why it's so helpful to have a loose itinerary. In summary, make yourself an informed traveler, but keep your itinerary flexible is key to making the most of a short trip. (by the way my wife and I have been honing this for over 10 years)
I recommend checking out the activity of Geocaching, which is the global game of using GPS to find hidden geocaches. You can learn the basics (and more) about this on your own by doing an internet search (first try www.geocaching.com). Note: I geocache as a hobby and do have any direct connection to Groundspeak, which runs the website for geocaching.
Why this is a great travel activity to get you both off the beaten path:
1. In most popular travel destinations, there are geocaches off (and on) the beaten track that will lead you to discover something locals think is really cool and worth checking out. Many geocaches are in ordinary places (like city parks, or roadside rest stops), but many also are at amazing natural wonders, along great trails, or at historic and geologic sites.
2. It's a fun challenge to try to find something most visitors know nothing about. Finding a geocache might take some extra time, but spending a little more time in a cool place is better than rushing around trying to check off must-dos or must-sees.
3. Many geocaches involve a fun hike — exercise! The activity generally gets your hiking, exploring and maybe swimming or paddling (to a spot). Geocaches all have difficulty and terrain ratings to ensure you're up for the challenge, be it really easy or super strenuous.
4. It's a good team activity. We do geocache as a family. Although my partner doesn't geocache, she appreciates that geocaches are in cool places that are worthy of extra time to visit. We never would have found the legendary Green Sands Beach on the Big Island if there weren't a couple geocaches there.
5. Just researching where geocaches are will give you local knowledge of cool places to go, even if you don't try to find the geocaches there. The maps on the Geocaching.com website are great and easy to use.
6. Geocaching is free. You could use your smart phone with a free app., but most geocachers invest in a hand-held GPS device and pre-load in the coordinates of "caches" they want to find. Some "premium" geocaches can only be viewed online by members who pay a nominal annual fee for some game extras.
I am currently planning a family trip to the Eastern Sierra region. Geocaching has helped me find all the secret hot springs, abandoned mining camps, scenic trails and amazing vistas.
I found that giving my wife control of the app Hotel Tonight (https://www.hoteltonight.com/) it helps her be adventurous. We often take road trips and never have time to stop and see things because we have to make a deadline of the next hotel. She is more willing to play it fast and loose if she's in control of the next hotel. The rooms turn out to be fairly cheap. Sometimes dirt cheap.
Well...that's a tough one...we are almost exclusively independent travelers and I'm always running into people that think we have 3 heads...all of them up our you know where! Try Pinterest...to locate neat new places...then find lodging using Airbnb and then try linking them together in a chain. See if you can make it a game and get her to lead.
Let her plan it to a Tee. Make sure she laminates the bus and taxi routes. Let her plan it all out. Nothing will go as expected. Then you can relax.
I haven't been in your area enough to know where the good places near you are, but I have a couple suggestions that you can do.
is a good couples place, but a week there might be too long. Any of the National Parks and National Monuments are a good place to start.
If you're ever in California check out Muir Woods, Big Sur, Yosemite National Park, or Kings Canyon National ParkYou can comfortably drive through 2 of the places in 10 days if you start in SF and end in LA or go from LA to SF.
And if your wife needs to be convinced that good trips are not about packing enough underwear but about finding shared experiences, have her read this article about one of the secrets to finding happiness.
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Hello from Paul at Gold Coast New Zealand Tours
It sounds like you and I are in exactly the same situation. We have wives that feel uncomfortable if they do not know what is going to happen in the next few days, or even hours. They like to feel that they have some control over what is going to happen to them and especially where their bodies are going to be on the planet.
I've found this with lots of people whom I've taken out on tours and with my wife when we travel togehter in unfamiliar countries. People like this have a real need to understand their geo-location in relation to other places that they are familiar with. Its why map search engines are so successful as they are meeting a basic human need. Often these people when they arrive in a new town the first thing they want to do is check in to their accommodation. This gives them a place to "ground" themselves, it provides a "nest" and a "security blanket". Once they have this they are more comfortable to venture out into the unknown and the unexpected which is what you and I thrive on.
All of this is subliminal and our wives are unlikely to agree that these "needs" are what is motivating them to be so "preplanned" and even having the discussion about them can get you in their bad books. But it is good to talk to them about these needs and how to meet them while still being able to have some aspects of your travel being more adventurous and unplanned. But pick the right moment!!
This type of personality also has their day or even their whole vacation planned in their minds. Their minds work like playing back movies and so they have a movie in their heads as to how the day is going to unfold. They do this about everything. If they are going to make a meal then they have a movie in their heads as to how the meal preparation is going to happen. So their heads are full if movies, some long, some very short.
As you can imagine it takes a lot of effort to make a movie. You need a script, a director, the camera man, a lighting guy, the stunt double, some other actors, finance man, etc etc....All of these take a lot of effort to put together, to organise correctly, to get the sequence correct, have the right time line....it takes a lot of energy to have this production all sorted. Once sorted then our wives are happy, they are comfortable with what is going to happen next as its stored in their minds, they've nurtured it and they like it ...until a husband comes along and stuffs up the movie.
Imagine the angst, the frustration and sometimes even the hurt that our wives have to put up with when all this effort is ruined by a husband, particularly when we are travelling.
I've found that you can partly wean them off the movie making habit, but gently, and only for one or two days during a couple of weeks while on holiday and never on consecutive days otherwise you will change them from the wonderful people that they are.
Negotiate with them which days are "no movie" days so they can include these "blue screen" days into the movie of their holiday before the holiday starts. Choose days that are after a more restful day too.
Let me know if any of this sounds right and how you get on if you decide to implement any of it so that I can understand if I'm giving the right advice.