Chelsea and I always try to plan our trips in advance as much as possible. This means everything, from when we will see each other to where we will be going and what we plan to do. There are a vast array of benefits of planning your trips out like this. And, although a last minute decision, throwing caution to the winds can often seem like a romantic or exciting idea, we generally believe that the more you are able to plan out in advance the better.
This usually starts with working out when we will be able to visit each other. This can often be anywhere between three months and a year in advance. As I write this post (in November 2014), we already have the dates to all of our trips set aside all the way through to July 2015. Many of the finer points of these trips are not yet decided, such as the accommodation, and in some cases the exact flight bookings. But being able to book this early provides the dual benefit of being able to plan our time off of work with time to spare, and gives us something to look forward to in the coming months.
After this, the next thing we try to work out is where we will be staying. Quite often, the decision is obvious (as it will be for many long distance couples). In America, I stay with Chelsea and her roommates. At university, Chelsea stays with me and my roommates. However, there are some situations which are not quite so clear cut. These might include transition periods, or holidays where you do not know where you will be staying, or it could be a vacation you are planning to take together where neither of you have anywhere to stay. In situations like these, Chelsea and I tend to use Airbnb, however most hosts will not accept booking more than a few months out. So while this is the next step in our planning process, it is often not until a month or two beforehand.
Finally, the last thing left to plan are the activities we want to do while we are together. We try to make the most of our time together, and do as much as possible. This ranges from daytrips, to date nights, spending time with friends & family, chilling out by ourselves, or just exploring the local area. Usually this means that before we leave, we have activities and travel planned for about 75% of our time together. The rest is just ours to enjoy however we want; whether it is cuddling in bed, relaxing in front of the TV, or perhaps another spontaneous day trip. So, what are the benefits of planning your trips out in advance like this?
1. Travel and accommodation is cheaper
The first, and most obvious benefit to making your bookings in advance is the cost savings. Long distance relationships are not cheap, they are notoriously expensive, and the further apart you live the more expensive they can become. Therefore, as a general rule of thumb, the earlier you are able to book, the more you are able to save. I tend to book my flights to see Chelsea roughly 6 months in advance, which will on average be about half the price of booking within the month that I leave.
The same is often true for accommodation, as hotels will increase their prices closer to the dates. Airbnb prices tend to stay the same, however there is often limited availability within any city, so it is worth booking early to ensure you get the location that you want. And, of course, while the savings are not as significant, you can also save on train, bus and coach fare by booking in advance, even if it is a flexible date ticket.
2. Structuring your time together
There is definitely something to be said for structuring your time with your partner. It means that you have places to be and things to do throughout the days, so that you don’t spend them sleeping in bed all day together. While this might appeal to some couples, Chelsea and I tend to be fairly active, and prefer to be out and about experiencing new things together. Structuring your time together will ensure that you are able to do everything you want to while you are together. Just don’t forget to leave a few free days in your plan too! We all appreciate some downtime on occasion.
3. Making the most of every opportunity
Similar to the last point, by planning your trip in advance you will be able to make the most of your time together. Whether this is planning out things that you both want to try together, or just things that have to be done. Sometimes work is unavoidable and we have to work during our trips to see our partners. But by planning it out, and around your other activities, you will be able to make the most of every moment that you do get to share together, and will not feel as though you have wasted any of your time.
4. Less uncertainty equals less stress
For us, at least, uncertainty can quickly lead to increased stress. As time ticks closer to your trip, and with nothing planned, it can be easy to become stressed. This is most noticeable when you do not have accommodation booked, as this is a vital element of your trip. So, to avoid pre-trip stress, try to make sure as much as possible is planned as early as possible. And, if you are not able to afford to book at that moment, at least try to organise you finances. This will give you peace of mind, as you know when you will be able to afford and book various elements.
5. It gives you something to look forward to
Easily the most important benefit of booking your trips in advance, is knowing that you will see each other again. Chelsea and I try to book our trips in such a way that when we have to say goodbye at one, we already have our next booked. This makes saying goodbye a little easier. Of course, goodbyes are never easy in a long distance relationship, and we all wish we never had to say goodbye to our partner. But by having your next trip booked, or even just planned, it can take some of the edge off of the goodbye, and give you both something positive to look forward to in the near future.
These are our top 5 benefits to planning your visits in advance. So, what do you think? Do you book your trips in advance, or do you prefer spontaneity in your long distance relationship? Let us know in the comments below and start a conversation!