I’ve never really been a spontaneous person.

Before going to bed, I know what I’ll be making for dinner the next evening (Hey, it’s got to defrost!), and I’ll never go to a movie theater without knowing exactly which flick I plan to see at what time. So it probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to hear that for me, one of the best part of a vacation is the planning.

This March, I’m going on a cruise… which I began planning 18 months ago. When I started researching the trip, the ship that I’ll be sailing on — Norwegian’s Breakaway — was still being constructed. I’d figured out exactly what type of room I wanted before it had left dry dock, and I’d paid for the trip before a single passenger had set foot upon her.

Carnival Cruise Sep 2011 - Legend

They say that the journey is just as important as the destination, but for me, the fun actually begins long before I even know where the heck I’m going to go. When I’m not planning my trip, I’m helping others plot out their own. Having been borderline (read: flat-out) obsessed with Walt Disney World since childhood (and a regular visitor for the past 20 years, the only thing I enjoy more than figuring out where I can afford to stay on my next trip is offering less well-versed folks advice on their own jaunts to the House of Mouse.If I had a dollar for ever trip I’ve helped someone else plan… well, I’d probably spend said earnings in the Breakaway casino.

Those who take a more casual approach to vacationing (or, like my best friend, flat-out despise traveling) find my enthusiasm for planning alternately amusing and annoying. The running joke in my household is that if you want to get my attention, work the words “cruise” or “Disney” into the conversation. In my own defense, I’d like to point out that I also respond to “casino,” “beach” and — proving my diverse interests — “French fries.”

While some find daily visits to TMZ or Gawker to be stress relievers, I’m more likely to hit the message boards at CruiseCritic.com in the hope that someone has posted menus from a Breakaway restaurant I plan to dine in. I crowed about my review of an overnight cruise aboard the Norweigian Gem being selected as one of CruiseCritic’s review of the week’s the way others proudly discuss their children’s achievements. I may not be able to help your kid with their homework, but I can tell you which Disney restaurant to take them to if they want to hang out with Winnie The Pooh.

Hey, everyone has a gift. This just happens to be mine.

Sure, some think it’s crazy to spend so much time focused on a trip that’s a year away (or one that someone else is going on), but in my mind, it’s turning a week-long vacation into something that lasts much, much longer. And if that’s not getting more bang for the buck, I don’t know what is!

Are you a get-up-and-go-on-a-moment’s-notice kinda person, or the kind of planner who is basically an unpaid travel agent for friends and family? Has all your research paid off… or ever proven a detriment? Hit the comments below to share your experiences!


Photo credit: Creative Commons License Hammock Tied to Palm Tree on Beach With Cruise Ship in background, Cozumel by Robert Neff is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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