So this month’s travel link-up topic is “your travel personality”. This has been pretty consistent all my life, as a girl with OCD, organization and tidiness ‘issues’, both planning & experiencing my eventual holiday is a pretty ‘by the book’ process.

First, the planning. When it comes to choosing where we’re going, there are a number of things that I want guaranteed. In order of importance, these are:

1. Food:

As soon as Michael or my family suggests a holiday destination, the first thing that I will get Google-ing is restaurants – if the food ain’t impressive, we ain’t going! This demand is no problem with Michael, as he shares my need for greed, however, when it comes to my family, I have much the same problem as Catherine in that, for my parents, food is just something that we will find when we are hungry. This has led to countless pauses outside restaurant doors whilst I manically turn on my roaming and Tripadvisor the name of the place, inwardly praying “please, please let it have good reviews so that I don’t have to start the battle for going elsewhere”. I’ll admit, I can be a little OTT with this, but pre-planning has meant that rarely have I got it wrong, and we’ve eaten at some stunning locations:

Le Loft, Vienna:

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Aqua, Hong Kong:

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The Ivy, Los Angeles:

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Baoli, Cannes:

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Café Marly, Paris:

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Zuma, Hong Kong:

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Mia Mensa overlooking the Bosphorus, Turkey:

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Oceanside, Hua Hin, Thailand:

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And, eaten some damn tasty food…

The best burger of my life at The Mercer Kitchen, New York:

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Foie gras with apple & cranberries at Café Pushkin, Moscow:

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Chicken Caesar salad at Fig & Olive, New York:

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The most amazing steamed blue dumplings at Baan Rim Pa, Phuket:

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Lamb shank with minted couscous at Lokál U Bílé Kuželky, Prague:

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Steak tartare & a bucket of chips at L’Avenue, Paris (did you follow my Paris posts?):

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Lobster & gnocchi at Le Loft, Vienna:

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Chocolate fondant at Buddakan, New York:

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The proof is in the pudding, as they say.

And, pre-planning has also meant that I’ve managed to make a reservation for the renowned 20-course meal served by famous Chef Daisuke Nakazawa’s very own hands at Sushi Nakazawa in New York in two weeks’ time. I’m feeling pretty smug about that one.

2. Weather: 

I like to be tanned. And we live in a country where it’s just a little grey, drizzly & miserable a lot of the time, so when I go on a ‘real’ holiday, i.e. a week +, I want go somewhere with sunshine. I am definitely a sun-seeking worshipper; if Wikipedia’s climate table is averaging less than 27 degrees during the month that we’re planning to visit, it’s a no-go.

Hua Hin, Thailand:

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Puerto Banus, Marbella:

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Barcelona:

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Lake Powell, Arizona:

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Isla Mujeres, Mexico:

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Koh Rong, Cambodia:

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But if we’re just planning a quick city break or a long weekend away (which Michael and I are very fond of doing), then I am willing to be slightly flexible on my Celsius needs. I think there’s something quite romantic about wrapping up warm, cosying under blankets and strolling around with steaming cups of hot chocolate when exploring a nearby city for a few days.

Budapest:

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Edinburgh:

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Paris:

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 3. Scenery & sights: 

I want to be sure that there’s loads of stuff to see. Like Kelly, I’m a bit of a photo addict (which is where starting the blog has been a real lifesaver for me, as I now have a legit excuse for taking 300 pictures a day), so I want to go somewhere that’s worthy of seeing. Michael and I will Google image the location that we’re considering, and its nearby towns, to see what the general scenery & vibe is like. I actually think that this is a top tip to rule out places quickly, if anyone’s in the market.

Playa del Ragusa, Sicily (did you read my Sicily posts?):

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Las Vegas:

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Venice:

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Prague:

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Istanbul, Turkey:

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California:

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The Grand Canyon:

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I also want there to be lots of things to do. As much as I LOVE my sunbathing, “do not disturb me for the next 5 hours” time, Michael is a massive fidget bum and we both really enjoy being active. So whether we’re in a city or on an island, I want to be sure that there are lots of activities that we can do, such as visiting historical sights, monuments, art galleries & museums.

The Colosseum, Rome:

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The Vatican, Rome:

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(shhhh!!!)

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The Bean, Chicago:

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Saint Mark’s Basilica, Venice:

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Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow:

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Imperial Palace, Vienna:

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Bellagio fountains, Las Vegas:

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Santa Catalina Arch, Antigua, Guatemala:

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Venice Beach, Los Angeles:

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Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia:

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The Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco:

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Or kayaking, hiking, canyoning & cliff-jumping. Basically, anything that’ll get me off my arse!

Hiking to the top of the Indian Nose volcano for sunrise (…on Michael’s birthday), Guatemala:

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Cycling the 17-Mile Drive, California:

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Hiking to the Celeste Waterfall, Costa Rica:

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Snorkelling in Cozumel, Mexico:

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Helicoptering over the Grand Canyon:

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Wakesurfing on Lake Powell, Arizona:

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Natural volcanic mud painting in the hot springs, Costa Rica:

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Quad biking on the Imperial Sand Dunes, California:

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Kayaking on Lake Atitlan, San Pedro, Guatemala:

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Zip lining, Costa Rica:

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Visiting the Hutsadin Elephant Foundation, Hua Hin, Thailand (best day of my life?!):

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4. Accommodation: 

The name of a destination instantly has me picturing what our hotel room should look like. Sadly, my imaginations & reality aren’t always are rarely in sync, but I will try my damndest to find the closest thing possible. Hence, like Jess, I will spend hours upon hours upon hours trawling through websites & reviews, for fear of missing out on something better, before usually settling on one of the first options that I came across. But one never learns… I personally favour boutique hotels, because I find that they have much more character & charm, and the staff are always much more personable & willing to please.

Hotel Ares, Paris:

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Fraser Suites, Edinburgh:

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Domus Balthasar Design Hotel, Prague:

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Once I’ve finished ticking off all of the above boxes, I end up with a rather long list of places where I want to eat, and things I want to see & do. This is where my man comes in handy, and he gets to put his map skills to good use, working out what things on the list are viable and close to one another, so that we don’t waste precious holiday time making the same journey twice. Then flights, hotel, restaurant & activities bookings are made and, before you know it, a spreadsheet has been opened (hello again Catherine) and a shiny, beautiful itinerary (high five Angie) is born.

Due to all of the planning, once we actually get to the second part, uhum, enjoying the holiday, there’s nothing left to panic or think about, and I enter a zen-like traveler state, unlike Jaime, who’s self-proclaimed ‘anti-traveller’ post made me laugh out loud.

Look, I get that the whole itinerary thing is completely foreign to some people, who would probably think that I’m completely crazy & a tightly-wound control freak, but I promise that isn’t the case. The itinerary isn’t a bible that I make everyone swear by, but it’s a kind of safety blanket, to know what things we could be doing, if we felt like it. More times than I have fingers have Michael and I sacked off a sight or similar to do something else, e.g. drink rosé ALL afternoon at a beautiful restaurant on the waterfront in Venice:

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The itinerary also ensures that we don’t return home only for someone to ask, “did you do X? I can’t believe you didn’t do X, everyone does X!”, because I will have known about it, waaaay before we went, and we would have decided whether or not we wanted to do it together.

So yeah, that’s me. A planner.com, for which I will make no excuses, because I have the BEST holidays. But what about you guys, are you ultra-chilled, go with the flow kinda people? Or are you as anally-retentive as me? Or somewhere in between? Pray do tell!