Travel Question: Are You a Planner? Or Is Your Partner?

I have a (sweeping and wildly generalized) pet theory that every relationship has one planner and one person who flies by the seat of their pants. With almost every couple we know, one person always takes charge of planning the trip—booking flights, scouting hotels, reading about the destination—while the other person is happy to just show up and see what happens. Do you think that’s true?

Before we met, Alex would take trips that were virtually unplanned; he’d arrive in a new place and wander around exploring. Meanwhile, I’m SUCH a planner. Planning gets me really excited for the trip, so I plan embarrassingly far in advance. (Last year, our Christmas trip was booked by June!) I like debating places to stay and discovering restaurants loved by locals. Usually I’ll create a Cheat Sheet with all the info together in one place. Alex used to tease me about it, but now I think he sees the method to my madness. Tell me I’m not the only one?

Interestingly, researchers from the Netherlands discovered that the largest boost in happiness from a vacation doesn’t come during or after the vacation, but instead from the simple act of planning a vacation. According to the 2010 study, “vacation anticipation” generally boosts happiness for eight weeks, reported the New York Times, whereas after the vacation “there is hardly an effect.” Furthermore, a U.S.-based study in 1997 found that “vacationers were happier in the period leading up to their time off than during the vacation itself.”

I’m curious: Are you a planner? Or your partner? Or neither?
P.S. The weird thing we do on vacations.

(Photos of us back in 2008 in England. The last few were from my cousin’s wedding, when were too tipsy to take a decent photo)

  1. I am the planner too, and I have to agree with that Dutch study, nothing makes me happier than planning, it’s even better than the holiday itself!My husband gets involved but only to criticize…

  2. Ah yes, I’m totally the planner in the relationship.

    We travel alot with my sister and her husband. My sister is just like MY husband – they both like to fly by the seat of their pants. However my brother and I take great pleasure in creating itineries. We have to pretend that we are being spontaneous, while secretly referring to our spreadsheet :P

  3. I am absolutely a planner and have done exactly what you talked about before. Matt is a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants guy.

  4. You’re definitely not the only one! Im the vacation dreamer/planner! I have an almost 4-week old baby and Ive been telling my husband that whens shes 6months or so we are going on our first family vacation (even if its a roadtrip). She’s my first and I know it wont be easy, but we gotta give it a go! Vacations make me happy! Im willing to give upa luxury or two just to be able to take a vacation!

  5. My husband and I are both big planners. So sometimes we plan too much and one of us (usually me) gets frustrated and we have to take a break from planning. We don’t really compete with our planning – we just over-plan or plan too much in advance.
    We basically know where we want to go for the next 5 years and I’m not joking :)

  6. Would you ever want to write a post about how couples with these differences work it out? My boyfriend and I are just like this; he plans everything and I like to just show up and see where the wind takes me. I always plan just enough (like where to stay, seeing friends), but he thinks I’m being irresponsible and showing that I don’t care about him or our trip by not spending more time researching beforehand.

  7. I do more planning than my boyfriend, but we are BOTH planners. It can get a little intense, actually. We have traveled with our best friend a couple of times and he is amazing at getting us to just relax and go with the flow.

  8. I think you’re DEAD on. I am definitely the planner (and have many a cheat sheet myself) whereas my boyfriend couldn’t care less. He definitely has Alex’s sensibilities ;) And now that I think about it, most of my friends relationships are the exact same way!

  9. hilarious! I was literally JUST thinking about this today. my man has a trip planned in August and nothing reserved, no research done – and it is driving me nuts, I am stressed already! all of our trips have had at least an agenda of how we are getting to and from, where we are staying when, and a lose idea of what we are doing (that I leave a bit more up to spontaneousness) – thanks to me ☺.

  10. Yep. I’m a planner!

    And that study is so interesting! Funny, because my husband and I were just discussing how we suddenly feel so excited and happy despite the winter blues. Must be because we finally booked that trip to Paris… I can’t wait!!!

  11. Sometimes I plan trips that I know I wont go on for years! (ie: roadtrips in France, Trekking in Spain) But it’s true, the planning makes me happy! And to answer the question: I plan and organize the details while my husband trusts that it will all work out without a hitch! I guess life is truly a balance.
    Great blog post as usual! -Ruth

  12. I LOVE that my hubs plans our entire trip while I get to show up. I’m pretty much the planner of everything at home, so it’s a really nice treat. On one trip, I never had to lift my luggage once – heaven!

    and…re you being too drunk to take good pictures – peeshaw! I’ve been reading your blog for a while and have never seen a bad picture of anyone in your family!

  13. I love this post – my entire blog is about planning trips – it is my passion in life (other than my hubby and three children, of course). You are spot on about one partner being a planner – it wouldn’t work out otherwise – too many conflicting opinions!

  14. My husband and I are both planners, but in regards to different things. He plans the flights and hotels, I tend to plan activities. Although lately we haven’t been doing much planning for our long weekend trips. Which can be both great, and also frustrating when we end up spending a lot of time trying to find a place to eat or certain landmark.

    Now I’m itching to travel again!

  15. I’m totally the planner! Our whole trip to Greece I planned every detail. My husband calls his style “playing it by ear”. It will be interesting this spring though, when we travel to Lebanon to visit his family, since I won’t be doing any planning and will be learning how to “play it by ear”!

  16. My husband is absolutely the planner!

  17. guilty as charged. I’m a planner while my fiancé just show up and he’ll lead the way during vacation.

    I still believe we can get discounts if we make an advance booking.
    I’m currently planning for our next winter vacation. :)

    Cheers, you’re not alone..! :)

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  19. We have been married 28 years and we have flip flopped on this issue. Back before computer my husband would do all the planning and I would show up. Now, I do all the arranging and he shows up.
    So, you just never know how things work out.

  20. Definitely! I am the planner, my husband makes final approval :) I love to spend hours over locations, hotels, places to eat. Especially in winter when its cold and grey, I love to plan a good trip!

  21. Hello Joanna,

    I LOVE reading A Cup of Jo! :)

    Well my travel buddy and I are both planners, so I think that is twice the level of madness. However, that also works well because we spread the research and booking, covering more ground and it results in a very well planned and detailed holiday… :)


  22. I am totally the planner in my relationship! My boyfriend is the one that has the “It will all work out fine mentality.” Together we get to where we intended to go and have lots of spontaneous fun too.

  23. I’m definitely the planner! And I love being so. I’m currently in full planning mode for our holiday coming up in April. Most things are booked but now for the researching of cafes and restaurants and galleries to visit. And of course, the packing lists (one of my favourite parts of travelling!) – which, when you have an 18 month old…is essential!
    Thanks for posting!
    Jess |

  24. I am definitely the vacation planner.
    We live in Toronto, Canada and in August last summer we spent six days in New York.
    I had a huge list of places to visit, restaurants to eat at and anything else and your New York guide was totally our inspiration. I spent hours looking at all your recommendations and suggestions and they were all fantastic.

    The Meatball Shop and Co. definitely had the best meatballs I have ever tasted and the best pizza. Too bad we don’t have them in Canada!


  25. To be fair though, my planning really just involves lodgings and timing and driving, etc. I look up activities to do and put some on a “MUST DO” list and others on an “if we feel like it list” and we just go from there. I’m not a spreadsheet, down to the minute planner.

  26. I am totally the planner but he’s the “okay-er,” meaning I get all the ideas and would plan a million trips for us, but he gives the official “okay.” It works for us. He knows it. I know it. It’s great.

  27. I’m totally the fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants-er. My partner is the planner. He keeps manila folders with different tabs for different kinds of information and keeps them alphabetized. We so compliment each other nicely, though; He keeps me organized and makes sure we see what we really want to see and I keep him spontaneous and open to adventure!

  28. I’m so the planner in my relationship ;) my hubby thinks I should be a travel agent, ha! It’s really SOOO fun!

  29. I plan everything not just holidays, i mean everything and love it!
    Must plan though that it does embarass me to admit it, lol. Overall, it does save me money, time and heartaches. xo

  30. Funny, I’m exactly the same way! I’m the planner, he’s the spontaneous one. We balance each other out that way.

    I like to make pinterest boards for my trip. Pin inspring photos, but also visit the websites of attractions, restaurants, etc and pin items from there for quick, easy access on the go.

  31. I am a major holiday planner! I have spreadsheets, folders, email accounts. Booking flights and hotels just makes me happy. However, I’m trying to avoid the temptation to plan out activities while we’re there and make the time we spend in a place a little more spontaneous.

    For an upcoming holiday, my boyfriend is planning a road trip for us and I’m actually quite excited to be the tag along.

  32. Yup, that’s true in our couple…. except my husband is the planner (he even researches a city’s subway map before we get there!), and I’m perfectly happy just to show up!

  33. Haha, so true! I am the chief planner.

  34. I think both my boyfriend and I plan- a bit. I can go either way, really. I like to read up on places to go, but am not overly committed if something more comes up once we are there. He’s the same way, which works well. He always insists on walking tours, which I used to poo-poo as too touristy. But let him book us on two (different trips) if he researched and did all the work for them, and both times I ended up loving them. They really oriented you and tour guides often had more “local” knowledge, which is fun.

  35. I love planning BEFORE the trip, but not during. When I’m there, all I want to do is relax. I’d rather someone else take the ropes and be in charge!

  36. I’m not a guided tour kind of person but I do like to have all my details in order. My husband, though, planned our entire honeymoon and he did really well! It was nice to not worry about the honeymoon while I was in the midst of wedding planning.

  37. You are making sense here. My boyfriend is a planner and I myself is just happy to show up and be a good follower. Once he came to visit me and he showed me what he had planned right before he took the plane to the moment he seeing me. That’s quite alright.

    -I am not a planner but I am trying to be one :) –

    Have a nice day Jo!

  38. I love to plain trips and the best is that time when I look for the best places, restaurants and news to discover in a new city… but I always have some lists to show him that he could take some decisions there (like one restaurant instead of other) :)

  39. Unfortunately, neither my husband or I are a planner… Thus, we never go anywhere! Boo… I long to travel, but I don’t know how to plan things. Neither of us went on family vacations when we were young (maybe one each, but that’s it). We’ve only gone when someone else made all the arrangements… I know the anticipation is the best part, and the feelings of envy for others who are planning or going on vacation is the worst! We need a travel planner, Jo! Are you available?

  40. I am definitely the planner! When my husband and I were in college we tried winging it on a roadtrip through Canada (ahem! not my idea), and it was a diaster! We ran out of money before we even got to our final destination. He lets me plan everything now. No complaints.

  41. The best trip I ever went on was with my good friend who’s not a planner either, the most awesome serendipitous things happened to us nonstop for three days. It was so fun, including pulling out into a fourth of july parade by accident because we didn’t plan to move my car in time. My car was completely muddy from driving around in Mexico, but we just waved to the crowds. Ah good times!!

  42. Actually, our favorite thing to do when we are abroad is to walk around foreign cities. So neither of us really does a lot of planning. He always books the airfare and I always book the lodgings and we do both way in advance so we can get discounts. Then we get a map or a Lonely Planet guide whenever we get where we’re going and we’re set! We usually plan one or maybe two activities we really want to do in the space of a week, and the rest is just flexible wandering time (we average about 11-13 miles/day). We’ll read the lonely planet guide in bed at night and circle things we want to check out; sometimes we’ll plan our walks to take us there, but other times even that is too much responsibility!

  43. Girl… I’m a crazy planner but I’ve been working on the “letting go”. It’s sooooo hard! A few years ago, the bf and I went to Boston and I had made a spreadsheet that showed where we were going and when. In my defense, we had a lot of events and places we wanted to eat at! I was sooooo embarrassed when the bf asked me when our “free time” was and I pointed to a single one hour block out of the entire 4 day weekend. LoL

    Since then, I’ve tried to plan the essentials (aka: what is the least I can plan and not lose my mind) and then just go for it. This gets more difficult when other people are involved tho! Like, the bf and I can paper-scissors-rock what we’re having for lunch, but what are you supposed to do with another couple? or a group of 8! EEEEeeeeeeek! In those cases I need to plan or make sure someone has a plan.

    Omigosh, I am a CRAZY person! ;)

  44. jm says...

    I loved this post. I agree that anticipation of a trip is the best. My husband and I want to take a cruise to Croatia/ Greece, but couldn’t quite swing it this year. We hope to do it next year. We are so excited and the expectation of that experience will enhance our year! I do more planning now that I used to. It really makes your trip so much better! My husband is a seat of the pants kind of guy.

  45. I’m definitely a planner! I like to know what we’re doing when and – I’m ashamed to admit this – I’ll even schedule “relaxation time”! Oh dear. My boyfriend is much more relaxed but that kind of works for us because I make sure he’s organised so that we don’t miss flights and actually make it to our destination and he makes sure I chill out once we’ve arrived. It’s a pretty good deal really!

    On another topic, just wanted to say that I’ve loved this travel themed week Joanna – but now all I want to do is go on another holiday!

  46. In our couple we are both planners and non-planners to and we switch roles time to time. Usually I’m more excited (or maybe my boyfriend just doesn’t show it) but he does the planning as well. HE really likes to check out Lonely Planet guides and check the map how to get around. I usually check for restaurants. About the hotel or BnB we always decide together, I love those evenings that we spend finding the perfect place.

    We already booked our trip to France for July but it’s mostly because there was a deal on the airline tickets. I do believe in the fact that we are happier before the trip then after, but I think I am the happiest when I lay on the beach in Italy or France. :)

  47. i’m the alex and my boyfriend’s the joanna!

    typically i’m super neurotic about planning for things; down to worrying if there will be a parking spot! but when it comes to big trips, mark takes such pleasure in all the research that i just trust he’ll plan a great adventure for us. we’re both fans of wandering, getting lost, and seeing what’s to see, too.

  48. I hate planning! I actually cannot bear to commit to stuff months in advance – I would always much rather book a last minute flight and see what happens.

    The best holiday my husband and I ever took was to Spain for a friend’s wedding, and this was because neither of us really planned anything, thinking the wedding would take over the whole trip. In fact it took over only a single day, and the rest of the time we spent wandering around the town in the sunshine, sitting in cafes, splashing around in the sea, eating late lunches, just generally chilling out. If we plan (it’s always him who plans, not me), we end up running around visiting ‘must-see’ sites like lunatics, and come back more exhausted than when we left! Seriously, everyone’s lives are so regimented these days – keep holiday time free & easy I say. Let go of your inner control freak & vote for no planning!

  49. I am most definitely the planner when it comes to traveling. We do talk about the destination and make sure that we both agree but everything else he usually leaves up to me. I like to take charge but I have to admit that it would be nice if my husband would surprise me with a trip somewhere one day, in the near future (I hope). (:

  50. I hate planning! I actually cannot bear to commit to stuff months in advance – I would always much rather book a last minute flight and see what happens.

    The best holiday my husband and I ever took was to Spain for a friend’s wedding, and this was because neither of us really planned anything, thinking the wedding would take over the whole trip. In fact it took over only a single day, and the rest of the time we spent wandering around the town in the sunshine, sitting in cafes, splashing around in the sea, eating late lunches, just generally chilling out. If we plan (it’s always him who plans, not me), we end up running around visiting ‘must-see’ sites like lunatics, and come back more exhausted than when we left! Seriously, everyone’s lives are so regimented these days – keep holiday time free & easy I say. Let go of your inner control freak & vote for no planning!

  51. I am DEFINITELY the planner. My husband just leaves it up to me to research, book flights/hotels/make reservations/put together an agenda. His excuse for not doing anything is because he says I have “better taste” and he is happy with whatever we do. Quite frankly, I don’t mind doing all the legwork before a vacation. In fact, it makes me happy. And i quite agree that a lot of the fun of vacation is the anticipation of vacation itself.

  52. Over 10 years:
    Early: He would come up with a list of places to visit or resturants to try. But, he would not plan ahead of time so we would show up places 10 minutes after closing or on weeks when they were renovating.I tried to be understanding but that didn’t last long.
    Later: He gave up. I planned everything.
    Recently: After children and job promotions, planning everything just felt like too much work. I wasn’t looking forward to trips anymore. To his great credit, my husband started helping with the planning. We now try to share the planning load (I’m still a little better at it).

  53. I am a total planner. I even get a small moleskine and write down pertinent information like gate, airline, 800 numbers for my insurance (even though I carry the cards). It makes it so much fun. I’ll split up the days and plan excursions listing address, phone website and even directions in case the smartphone craps out. I’ve been on quite a few vacations planned by others where they did not research anything and I came home with regrets. Who goes to the Yucatan and doesn’t see Chichen Itza or even, monkeys? My friends, that’s who! I don’t want to be drunk in a pool every day, that’s what my normal life is for.

  54. oh my gosh i am SUCH a planner. i booked our 3 month backpacking adventure more than a year out, i was so excited. that was back when i was 23 though, at 27 i’m still as eager but i can exercise more patience. i realised i love the planning process so much i get slightly depressed once i’ve booked the holiday – i’m such a loser! but then i guess it’s exciting plan what to do during the days, and what to see. holidays are amazing.

  55. i am 110% the planner. hubby is along for the ride and loves going on it, but if the planning were left to him we’d end up nowhere. ;)

  56. Those studies you sited are really interesting and I think they’re very true. I will add that I just read somewhere that happiness also comes after some time has past after a trip…people tend to remember traveling fondly. I also think this is true. Travel is just a good thing to do when you can!

  57. You have a cheat sheet too? We just got back from NYC (Yesterday) and I was the one who did all the organizing. I had a Manhattan cheat sheet that worked out brilliant! It had everywhere I wanted to go, so if we were in that hood, we could pop in all the cool places. So, it was planned but loosely.

  58. I’ve been talking about the charm in anticipation SO MUCH lately as we just booked a spur of the moment trip to NYC! That was two weeks ago. We’ll be there on Saturday and I’ve got such ants in my pants!
    P.S. I’m the planner. I’ve been studying your travel guides. :)

  59. I am without a doubt THE planner! I am a very organized person to begin and I dislike chaos of any sort. Whenever we travel I have a little folder of any tickets, reciepts/confirmations and then have a list of places I want to go. I diligently research things beforehand. Sometimes it can put a burden on MY experience because I’m more focused on what’s next rather than the vacation itself.

  60. I am definitely the planner! And my husband is the opposite. As long as he has plane tickets he feels ready to go. I do really love the planning and researching process of a vacation, and I would agree that a lot of the fun is the anticipation and visualization of the trip.

  61. Thank you for this post! I have always been the planner in my relationships– romantic and otherwise.

    In 2008, I was laid off from my job, and found that planning a brunch date or small dinner party was the only light at the end of the tunnel for me. Being unemployed can be very stressful/depressing, and in order to combat that, I found myself putting my all in to my plans.

    I was happy to hear the phrase “vacation anticipation” mentioned– that completely describes the feeling of excitement about an event. I’m feeling that way about my 2014 nuptials <3

  62. I’m definitely the planner, but I remember reading that article in the New York Times and shaking my head a bit: even though I want to take the reins, it stresses me out! So many decisions! I definitely prefer being on the vacation to the planning itself. That was a fascinating article, though. I think about it (and find myself quoting parts of it) all the time!

  63. We are BOTH planners…but then we get there & can’t make up our minds! hahahahaha!!

  64. This is totally true. In my first serious relationship I was the one who flew by the seat of my pants and my boyfriend at the time planned everything.

    Now that I’m older I enjoy planning things to look forward to and my boyfriend is very go with the flow and likes to take the days as they come. It’s interesting because I notice this in every relationship too. There is always a planner and always someone who takes life as it comes. It’s God way of balancing us couples out I’m sure. :)

  65. We both handle some of the planning. I’m usually the one who takes care of arrangements for our pets/the house/our daughter, but he is definitely the one who books everything and does the most research. I contribute a wish list of a few things and he comes up with itinerary.

  66. This is so true! last fall I planned two trips: one to DC/NYC and another riding a train up the west coast through Portland & Seattle. We didn’t have the money for either trip but I was just so happy to plan them I didn’t care that we weren’t actually going!

  67. neither of us plan- we show up & wander! our honeymoon lasted 3 weeks longer than planned because we kept finding things to do!

  68. My boyfriend is SO not a planner. Actually, when he comes to visit me next I’m planning a surprise trip to New York. It’s hard for me to keep it secret, and I’d love to tell him so that he could brainstorm with me, but I know he won’t so I think it’s worth keeping quiet.

    The comment about the Google spreadsheet kills me. I’m trying to convince my boyfriend to start a gcal with me (we’re long-distance! to track our visits) but he thinks I’m insane.

  69. I’m totally the planner, but my boyfriend is great about making sure we have our passports, flight itineraries, or any other necessary paperwork! I’d be lost without him!

  70. We’re both planners. But, we like to plan different things. He books the plane tickets and the hotels. I create the itinerary and decide exactly where we’re going and what sights we need to see. Neither of us plans for restaurants until we’re actually there, so we’re still a little spontaneous. This type of planning is for the big trips though, like 2 months in China. For little trips, like a week in NYC, we barely plan, just book plane tickets and a hotel and go. Thankfully, the advent of smart phones has helped a lot with this type of travel!

    I find that in relationships there’s always one who navigates well and one who deals with the money. I’m the navigator, my husband is the money.

  71. I’m definitely the planner. My husband is a total homebody and would probably never leave the house if I didn’t make him. However! Once I get him out, he’s fairly down for whatever. He knows I have a travel itch so he is down to do whatever I want to do. It’s kind of nice but also kind of annoying…

  72. I love this! I’m the planner, and my husband’s the spontaneous one. I have so much fun researching restaurants and attractions months in advance – nice to hear I’m not the only one!

  73. I’m defintely the planner. My Alex is the partner, but he’s always willing to be dragged along as I cross off every “to do” item on our travel list!

  74. I think we’re actually a bit mixed. I love “accidental touristing” which is just a phrase my dad came up with to describe driving around and finding cool stuff to do on your own. But I also want to make sure I don’t miss anything important, so I tend to pick a couple things per days of things we really want to do, and then everything else is up in the air. It’s worked out well for us!

  75. I’m the master planner! I LOVE to reseach and book everything. For me, it’s all part of the experience. It’s also important to study a map so you know where you are once you get there.

  76. My partner and I are the same, I plan, he doesn’t. I definitely think that vacation anticipation makes you happy. We recently travelled to Hawaii and we were so excited leading up to it. I wouldn’t say that the anticipation made us happier than the trip though, the trip was the best part. Someone should study post-vacation blues. We were a little sad the first couple days. My four year old announced he no longer likes where we live (in Canada) and that he just wants to go live on Maui!

  77. I am ABSOLUTELY the planner. It settles my nerves and gets me really excited about our trips. It works out well because I like to do it and my wife does not (although she has recently expressed her gratitude for my efforts, which was nice.) And once we’re there and things don’t go according to plan, she steps in and easily flies by the seat of her pants. It works really well!

  78. This is so funny to me. My husband plans everything, and I plan nothing. I always worry that if I do have plans, I’ll get stuck doing something that sounded fun at the time, but that I don’t really feel like doing that day.

  79. My husband is the planner extraordinaire. I usually only know our destination, he takes care of the rest. I love it! He is also my book concierge. I’m a very lucky girl.

  80. Yeah, no doublt, I am the planner!! Planning a vacation now, and the excitement is totally setting in.

  81. I’m the planner. But it’s interesting! because my husband and I recently returned from separate but equally cool vacations. He went on a guys-only motorcycle trip around Cambodia for 3 weeks and I met up with 10 amazing women for a yoga/clean eating/back- country skiing adventure in British Columbia. When it came to traveling solo (for the first time in years), I barely planned a thing in advance and even hitched hike a bit (gotta love small ski towns in friendly, Canada!) My husband, on the other hand, who NEVER plans had so much of his itinerary planned out weeks and months in advance.

    My husband and I loooovvve to adventure travel but thought it was best to do these trips without the other and explore individual passions that otherwise take a backseat out of consideration for the other (ie I have no desire to dirt bike and he prefers the bunny hill over the big mtns).

    We’re now planning a mini trip to NYC for my 35th birthday in April. In typical fashion, I’m taking the lead on the planning, but really I’m cheating because we’re renting AirBnB in the West Village and I’m using your guides as a reference. It’s the best of both worlds! Thank you for this great post and thanks for the great guides.

    *Here’s a link to the women’s wellness week…video and pics. It was amazing and COJ blog worthy!

  82. I am TOTALLY a planner! I usually make Word or Google doc that has all the important info (reservation info, restaurant addresses & hours, etc.), and sometimes even make a rough schedule of our day’s plan. I’ll do this even for day-trips. Good to know I’m not the only one!

  83. i am the planner in our relationship and my boyfriend also enjoys random, unplanned trips!
    kw, ladies in navy

  84. My husband and I are both planners, so we each take different responsibilities. He books the restaurants and the hotel, and I’ll book activities (including shopping, coffee, and snacks). It works out really well since he’s most concerned about what we eat and if we sleep well, and I care more about what we actually DO. It also spreads out the stress of who is “responsible” for what we do, and we can both take the lead at different times. It also helps that we’re both ok straying from our plans if we see an activity or restaurant that looks neat while we’re on the go.

  85. My husband and I split the planning responsibilities – he hunts for the best prices on hotels, airfare and other travel expenses like shuttles or car rentals, while I am in charge of researching what we can do once we get there including activities and where to eat.

  86. I’m definitely the planner! I love planning out every aspect of the trip and my boyfriend is pretty much up for whatever I plan. I totally agree that I get a huge amount of excitement from just the planning the trip. And interestingly, I think my boyfriend just gets happy watching me happily plan and get excited for the trip.

    Also, I’ve recently started using Pinterest to help funnel all our trip information! Places to stay, places to visit, restaurants, etc:

  87. *bag not bad*

  88. I am 100% the planner. As a matter of fact I have a little notebook in my top desk drawer beside me, where I have been keeping notes for our upcoming spring trip. Its slim and portable and I plan to keep it in my bad while we travel. There’s a page for each day and then I have pages designated for “Food” “Drink” and “Things to Try”. I’ve been doing precisely this for years and it makes the whole trip go so smoothly.
    My husband trusts me to plan away, so he spends more time reading about the history of the place. He gets excited when I tell him about a detail, but rare is it for him to look into it himself.
    So yes, I support your theory!

  89. Such cute photos of the two of you! I’m definitely the planner. No doubt about it. And I love that part. I buy books and look up every single thing I can think of on the internet, researching our destination. So much fun!

  90. OMG! I’m just like you! I get to the point of making routes on google maps so I know where I’m going and what to see on that route! hahahaha

  91. oh my gosh, this is so me, and i love that there’s actual studies about vacation planning. i’m a planner and a review looker upper, and library book taker outer, and i am in this mode for a nice chunk of time. we booked our alaska land and sea cruise for june in january, and i’m still going strong. once it’s almost time to actually go, i’m stressed (about packing, about weather) and i’m sad and anxious about leaving my cats! yes, i’m much happier in the planning stage, lol, and i’m glad this is a real “thing!”

  92. We’re both planners…. but I’m better at it ;)

  93. i am a HUGE planner. i have found that if you wait to the last minute, you cannot get reservations for the
    cool boutique hotel. also, if you plan ahead, you won’t show up at a museum or restaurant that is closed that particular day. or, the worst is when you come back from your trip and someone says, “oh, did you do such ‘n’ such? that is the best!”. and i think ‘rats! missed that’.

  94. I really didn’t travel at all until I met my boyfriend…he is the planner and he does Such a great job I’ll let him keep it!! =)


  95. I’m a planner and my husband isn’t, although he has gotten much better about planning since we’ve been together. I think I’ve been able to show him how planning can save you so much unnecessary stress later.

  96. This is me to a T. I’ve always struggled with a bit of post-travel depression and always wondered how that pure happiness could drop before my tan even fades. I think this explains it, truly. Since we usually only take one big international trip a year, the time in between can seem vast. We’re trying to do a better job of starting to talk about and plan our next trip on the heels of returning from our last, so I have something to plan again. That and I offer up travel planning to all my friends!

  97. Usually he takes care of the dates, flights and hotels while I take care of the sites, activities and food (the good stuff!) But I totally agree with your one planner/one spontaneous theory. I have seen the same thing in all my friends too. He’s the planner and I am the no plan one in our relationship.

  98. Oh, I so love this topic. I’m the planner. I’ve been planning our vacation to Costa Rica for months and my boyfriend just realized last week that we aren’t going to a resort…He very much holds the attitude of “We’re going to Costa Rica! What more do I need to know than that?”

    For me this isn’t relationship specific- I’m alllways the trip planner. When going to Italy with a group of nine friends I arranged all hotels, delegated certain duties, and created individualized itineraries. I’m ready to admit I may have gone over the top on that one.

    Great topic!


  99. My husband is 100% the planner. The day before the trip, I find myself asking things like, Where are we staying again? Anything specific I should pack?

    The ONLY thing I absolutely have to know, is what time a flight leaves/lands. I am obsessively terrified of missing a flight!

  100. As soon as I come back from a trip, I’m planning the next one! Helps me take my mind off the sad fact of vacation ending…I’m the planner in terms of reading up about the place’s important sites and history and where to stay, but my boyfriend is the flight booker and hotel caller because he likes to try to find the best deals and haggle over prices (fine by me — I loathe that stuff). He also is the designated “food czar,” and I’m the “activities czar.” It works out well! :)

  101. When it comes to travel, I’m the planner, to the point where I even decide where we are going, and what we’re going to do. My husband just comes along for the ride.

  102. My husband is a huge planner… and I love it! He takes lots of times on planning always the best trips ever! I think I couldn’t do it (and also I might be getting spoiled haha)
    Love your blog!!

  103. So very true. I am definitely a “wing it” kind of girl. My boyfriend always complains about it, especially when we vacation.

  104. We’re both planners but he’s a bit more structured and organized than I am. I totally believe that you get a boost from anticipating the vacation – that’s why we always have one in the works. We plan and book a looong time in advance as well. We live in cold, snowy Canada, and our vacations are the only thing that gets me through the winter. We did a getaway to a fancy hotel in the mountains in January, and just recently did an Arizona and Vegas trip. We’re off to the UK in April. He does most of the physical booking, but we discuss hotels together, I have a packing list that I am always updating, and we talk about what we’d like to do.

    Often we end up doing a whole lot of nothing, and planning involves saying “we’re off to the pool then X restaurant” since we both need a break from our busy jobs!

  105. I am definitely the planner! I’ve been planning a two week trip to Italy (babymoon!) that we’re taking in May, and it’s making me so excited. We are going to spend 4 nights in Positano… your time there looked so amazing! I will be 6 months pregnant though, and I’m hoping my husband will become well-versed in our travel plans before we depart so that i’m not stuck being the travel guide. Anything you didn’t do on the Amalfi coast that you wish you had? We’re definitely doing a boat trip to Capri!

  106. Oh Jo! Currently, I am surrounded by “cheat sheets” on my desk – a whole tree has gone into my planning. We are off in a month to Turkey & when I read your post, I literally got goose bumps regarding the part about anticipating the trip. For me, even though I am such a planner, I often feel overwhelmed by all the work involved in making our trips perfect, so to read about the study, really reminding me to surrender to the process (so that I can enjoy it). Thank you so much for this post! It couldn’t have come at a better time. xo Carrie

    P.S. Those photos of you & Alex are adorable.

  107. This is why we never take any trips! Neither one of us likes planning at all!

  108. I love love love planning trips! Sometimes I’ll go on travel booking sites and just browse fares, even if I don’t have any upcoming travel plans, just for fun. I’m totally a planner and my boyfriend just goes along with it. He says it’s because trusts me to do a good job, but I think he just prefers to wing it :)

  109. My husband is totally the planner, especially for trips. He always needs an activity during the day. Over the years, I’ve seen the value of planning ahead — I get excited for the trips, love reading about things to do, see and eat, and it helps us not waste too much time debating choices once we’re there. Although I do occasionally remind him to keep an afternoon open for exploring or beach laying. :)

  110. WOW! This is so true and so interesting!! I’m def the planner. I was actually just talking to my husband and asking why doesn’t he seem excited about our upcoming beach vacation? (first one with our baby daughter!) and his response was: well it’s not until 4 weeks from now so who cares?
    Me on the other side have been dreaming about it weeks before booking it and now weeks after booking it! everyday it makes me soo happy just to think about it! I guess the moral of this post is: Book your vacations way in advance to squeeze every bit of happiness from them :)

  111. Neither of us really plan anything, but our last little weekender to Portland, Maine I planned a few things! We’re from New Brunswick, Canada and it’s about a 5 hour drive so I thought it would be worth it! And you’re right, it was so much fun picking little spots to eat and such. Although, the most fun is throwing out all plans once you get there and instead of eating at all those fun breakfast spots, eating pain au chocolat at the bakery every morning :) Love your blog! <3

  112. So true! I am definitely the planner. I love planning vacations.. getting everything ready is so much fun and exciting. I just blogged about planning my trip to Marrakesh in April.

  113. We’re a little of both. I am all over hotels, flights, etc. But he is the one who is all about what sights we see and where we eat.

  114. We both love to plan! which makes it really fun and easier. We did learn to balance so we’re able to do things that are particular from each others taste. He’s the best partner of adventure!

  115. For short trips, I’m a planner – but my boyfriend likes to fly by the seat of his pants always (and it’s irritating). We’re heading to Europe for four months in July and although I typically like to plan things, I cannot even imagine planning a trip of that length. So I left it up to him.. and it’s basically just an outline. No set plans so we can come and go as we please. I think it’s going to work much better than meticulously planning everything. At least, I hope ;)

  116. I plan the trips, because traveling is my thing. My husband never really traveled before he met me. But my travel planning involves purchasing plane tickets and a travel guide. I love exploring when I get there and not planning an itinerary. This makes my travel anxious husband go nuts (not to the point he would actually plan anything, haha). So to compromise, I plan a little by booking some hotels/apts at least. Other than that, I like to wing it. This has worked well for both of us on our last few trips :)

  117. Planning is half the fun. More than half, actually! To do so lets me have the fun of wandering around new places long before I ever actually embark. That said, when I’m actually on a trip, it’s often the unplanned, serendipitous moments I tend to remember best. But I feel that the planning helped put me in the right place at the right time to enjoy those moments.

  118. I try planning out trips, but I get so stressed out about picking the right hotel, booking flights, and planning transportation to and from the airport! Dont get me wrong – at first I’m excited about going somewhere new, but once I try to find hotels I get so overwhelmed by all the mixed reviews about the hotels I look at. I end up giving up halfway through. Haha

  119. Haha I think this is totally true. Because I will lurk around the forum for a few weeks every time we’re planning a trip to Disney World, even if I’m just reading dumb threads about what to pack (like I haven’t been there a dozen times).

  120. My boyfriend and I take turns being the trip planner. I think that whenever we go somewhere that one of us has been to before that person automatically becomes the trip planner. Back when I was single I played both roles: I’d create a huge list months in advance of all the places I COULD go and then when I’d got to my destination I’d usually make it to two or three of my planned places and then wander around them, finding new places along the way.

  121. Oooh! Good topic! I am definitely the planner, but ONLY because my husband can’t figure out how hotel bookings, and airplane tickets work out, haha. On our honeymoon, though, we only booked the flight.. nothing else. We wanted it to be an adventure. So when we showed up in Bangkok, it was slightly stressful, but it became easier to navigate as time went on. We look back seven months later and realize that the majority of the trip, we had absolutely no idea where we were going or where we were at! If we wanted to head North, we’d grab a train and go. If we wanted to go to an island in the South, we’d book the flight the night before and head out the next day! There’s something curious about finding adventure in the unknown.

    Take care,

  122. I’m the planner. I research vacations I’m not even going to go on, look at flights and hotels. Just to dream about how fun it could be it could to go. Similar to window shopping.

  123. Oh, this is so us.

    I plan everything as far out (I think it’s stress relief/everyday life relief for me to scout hip hotels and adorable AirBnB apartments) – I ask friends for recommendations and email myself addresses of restaurants I want to try, although I never actually set anything in stone schedule-wise.

    My husband would totally just show up someplace and fly by the seat of his pants if I let him. Not that he doesn’t appreciate having things planned, it’s just not something he wants to do himself.

  124. Are you kidding me? I am a total planner…I started planning my trip to Europe 6 months in advance…and totally agree with that study…Planning trips is my favorite part. Its also why I started a travel blog. So I could plan trips even if I have no money to actually take them.

  125. I’m definitly the planner in my relationship. My husband hasn’t ever really gone on a trip so I think he really just doesn’t know what to expect. But I get super excited with all the nitty gritty details. Such as were going to eat here on this day, see this sight, try desserts here. Were planning our very first trip as a couple and he doesn’t even know who our airline company is. But I’m definitly glad it’s me planning it … I kinda love the control.

  126. My boyfriend is the planner. He’s so detail oriented which is key!


  127. My boyfriend and I take turns being the trip planner. I think that whenever we go somewhere that one of us has been to before that person automatically becomes the trip planner. Back when I was single I played both roles: I’d create a huge list months in advance of all the places I COULD go and then when I’d got to my destination I’d usually make it to two or three of my planned places and then wander around them, finding new places along the way.

  128. I so agree with that study! By far the best part of traveling is the excitement leading up to it!!!

    I guess I’ve become the planner in our family, but only because if I didn’t we might never go on vacation! But I enjoy it so I’m not complaining!

    I LOVE Travel Week!

  129. hahah, i love this: “We implemented a shared Google spreadsheet…”

    you guys are awesome.

  130. I am definitely the planner, but my husband is more laid back and has shown me the joy of spontaneity. So I try to have a happy medium on our travels, instead of bringing ten things to see/do I only pick three ahead of time. But I definitely LOVE having a trip to look forward to.

  131. I love this! I am SUCH the planner and I have way too much reading tripadvisor reviews, scouting out excursions, and making excel documents of schedules. haha.

  132. You are right on in your theory. I plan everything… hotel, restaurants, sights to see, transit, etc and my husband is along for the ride. That said, I let him corral the kids and the luggage. Everyone has a role. :)

  133. I am definitely the planner and completely agree that it is most of the fun!

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  136. If we could afford to go, I would be the planner and my husband would just show up. If I met a man who liked to plan in my whole entire life, I would seriously think about trading in the Hubs.

  137. I am the planner in the relationship I totally agree with you planning a vacation is almost as great as the vacation itself :)


  138. You’re not the only one! Your situation sounds identical to me and my boyfriend. We implemented a shared Google spreadsheet so we can see where we can go next!

  139. I am a complete planner. My husband, on the other hand, is totally not. He tacks activities on once we get there. I’m like “But we’re paying MORE than if we booked in advance.” Meanwhile, he’s like “But it’s an awesome magic show! We’re going!” It always ends up fun. :-)

  140. I am a TOTAL planner when it comes to travel! Do you think that is a woman thing? Although my brother plans a lot too! We are planning to go to the Ocean in April and I’m not even sure it’s going to happen but I am still giddy about the possibility :)

  141. The happiness study is so interesting and I believe it. I love the anticipation stage just as much as the actual trip.

    I’m definitely the planner and my husband just shows up. This is partly because I like to plan but also because we’re living overseas and I’m not working so I have tons of time to investigate!

  142. It’s funny because my husband plans virtually NOTHING in life (that’s me) but he LOVES to plan for travel. I think it gets him excited for it, like you said. I usually just let him go because he knows what I like to do and he’s never let me down :)

    PS you look so much like Lucy in the top picture. I had to look twice!