The poetic side of me likes to think that I can embrace spontaneity. That taking the unbeaten path my whims lead me on, over the well-worn ones, will yield situations for self-discovery and insight into the spirit of a place. That it is truly about the journey and not the destination.
The reality is that I really like to plan vacations. I am all about the journey before the journey. I start planning months in advance for a long trip, and a few weeks in advance for short three-day stints in closer destinations (like Philly, Baltimore or Brooklyn). Preferably, if I have enough time, I will max out my Excel skills to create complex spreadsheets for my vacations - listing accommodation options, compiling contact information, devising a travel budget and researching must-see (or more importantly, must-eat) spots. I am a Planner, with a capital P.
So, when Pem and I received invites to attend our friends' wedding in Marrakech, I started brainstorming itineraries the moment we booked our Hanoi-Casablanca plane tickets. That was four months ago. Morocco has so many options to offer travelers, it was tough to pare down the stops for our 10-day itinerary. I tried to make my planning mantra "see more by doing less", but in the end, we pinned four places - Marrakech, Skoura, Fes and Meknes.
Now 10 days away from our departure date, we are officially in the vacation countdown mode. I can't wait to explore Morocco with my own two feet. In the end, whether you're strolling a well-trodden path or bushwhacking yourself a new one, it's your very own eyes that will lead you and your very own feet that will take you - and that makes all the difference.
Any travel tips or recommendations for the four cities I mentioned above, or others that are close-by? I can always use more! :-) In the meantime, you can find me starting my packing list...
P.S. - A 2010 NYT article profiled a study on the relationship between vacations and happiness, which found that "the largest boost in happiness comes from the simple act of planning a vacation" and that these happiness levels can last up to 8 weeks. However, "after the vacation, happiness quickly dropped back to baseline levels for most people." Well, that's rather obvious, no? (article found via Cup of Jo)
(Photo credit: Jodi Ettenberg, lawyer turned world traveler turned blogger, who has been touring the globe for the last five years and writing a blog about it. Be still, my heart. Her blog, Legal Nomads, has some great fodder for global foodies, with plenty of nice pictures to boot.)