When it comes to Ibiza, I am, I suppose, what newspapers, magazines and travel agents refer to as a destination expert. I live and breathe (and constantly write about) this island, and if you want to know what to do, where to go, who to see or what to buy on any given day – and I mean 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – I’m your girl. I love planning an Ibiza itinerary for friends – of all ages, with kids, on romantic holidays, party holidays, the lot. I can give you the lowdown on what you might need to book well in advance, where it’s ok to just walk-in, what you should pay for and what you can hold out for guest list for, and sometimes, even when somewhere popular is booked out, I can probably still help you get in. Not that I’m bragging or anything. But when it comes to organising a holiday anywhere else… I am THE WORST!
Regular readers of this blog may remember that I’m not a big fan of travelling. Leaving the island is hard for me – like, it hurts my heart to get on that plane, not to mention creates all kinds of inner emotional turmoil for me. But that’s another story. And one that makes me feel good about my own carbon footprint, if nothing else! Today’s story – well, the one on my mind anyway – is about the process of travel planning. Clearly, some people excel at it (literally, like Excel spreadsheets detailing every minute of every day of their travel plans – yes, I am looking at you Mrs B), thriving on getting to know their destination prior to arrival – reading all the books, from the Lonely Planets to the historical books and the novels alike. And then, there are people like me, who leave absolutely everything to the last minute, ignorantly arrive at their destination with very little idea of local custom (in my teensy tiny defence, I always do learn how to say please and thank you on the plane), and hope to god (or Buddha or Garuda or Ganesh or Itzamna) that someone else knows the way to all the good stuff.
I wasn’t always like this. I remember when I was planning my first ever trip to Ibiza… I was all over the internet, every minute of every day (and for this I apologise to my former employees). I had ALL the books, I knew all the myths and legends, I had a list of must-visit places, should-visit places, probably-visit places, and places to visit if there was any time left on the itinerary. I knew all about the climate. I knew how the public transport system (or lack thereof) functions, I knew how to get myself on a guest list, I knew who was who in the clubbing hierarchy. I guess you could say that even back then, well before I’d even stepped foot on island soil, I was almost a destination expert. So what has changed?
Is it that Ibiza just takes up so much space in my brain – not a bad thing, by the way – that there’s no room for any other destinations? Is it that the thought of leaving the island (even for a FUN holiday and celebration with friends) terrifies me so much that I just try to block the fact there ARE other cool places in the world out of my mind? Or have I just become 100% useless at organising holiday plans? I often blame my intense procrastination on getting my travel plans in order on the intensity of my work. I do often work up to 12 hours a day… but I’m also able to manage sneaking in a few episodes of Gwyneth’s goop lab on Netflix at the end of the day (don’t judge me) so, err, am I really using my own time wisely?
Take today for example. I got up early – like, really really early – so I could do all things necessary to get my visa and book my flights to go to my friend Ms SS’s wedding next month (the date is scarily close). I washed my hair, I put on make-up, I played around with Photobooth trying to find my best angle for the visa picture, then I decided that the lighting wasn’t flattering enough so I would need to go to a photo lab to have proper passport style portraits taken. I started to search for the flights – I KNOW exactly which flights I want to take already – and then I started to wonder about the connecting flights to BCN and whether I had the resident’s travel certificate that allows us 75% of the cost of flights to the mainland or other islands, and then realised it was expired so I had to go to the town hall for another one.
By that time, I needed to get to work and so both tasks have again been relegated to tonight. On top of that, I know I need to go to the doctor (do I need vaccinations? Or don’t I need vaccinations? Also, I need some sleep-friendly meds for the flights, antibiotics just in case, and so on, and so all – but when I try to make an appointment via the clinic website, it says my password isn’t valid, when I ask to resent password nothing happens, I figure, the hospital is just a ten-minute walk from my house so I’ll go sort it out in person… later. But later, after I’ve finished work, the hospital is closed for the day. This is the kind of way my brain works – it just does not have the capacity for prioritising travel. And so, I end up being penalised. The cost of flights go up. Or the flights sell out. I find out there’s a three-week wait for tickets to the theatre shows I want to see. I kick myself every time I travel for being this way, but I just can’t seem to shake it.
While I do find my whole lack of planning very frustrating and stressful as the days nearing my vacation approach, I have to admit – the adrenalin of leaving it all to the last minute and letting it throw my life into disarray is kind of thrilling. And that getting on a plane, with little to no clue about what you’re about to arrive to is also intriguing. Sometimes it’s awesome – you learn so much, meet so many cool people, and discover so many new facts that you feel childlike again. Other times… it’s a disaster. You can’t speak the language, you don’t know your Ubers from your Lyfts or a Grab and a taxi, you visit monuments at the worst possible time of day for crowds and visibility, you pack the wrong wardrobe for the climate or customs, and you’re a sucker for someone looking to rip off a dumb tourist. But at this stage of the holiday planning game, I’m going to take my chances yet again.
Fortunately, in this case, I have some VERY organised friends on the ground who are like my guardian travel angels (the trio of Mrs S, Miss S and Ms SS), and who I am most grateful for. But when I’m planning my return route back to Ibiza, you can rest assured I have every step of the way meticulously handled. I choose connecting flights at a certain time of day to get the best light and views from the plane windows. I know which window seats to choose so I can watch the wing dip over Dalt Vila and take a classic Insta-snap as we fly high over Es Vedra. I know how to navigate that luggage carousel like a master, and am one of the first people (touch wood) out of the arrivals hall and into a taxi, having already added (or removed, depending on the season) layers to my outfit to acclimatise to the temps. And obviously I’m a know-all who always tells the taxi driver what the fastest route to my house is. I usually know exactly what I’m going to have for lunch/dinner (after reuniting with my cats of course) and calculate the exact right amount of time between my homecoming and my first work meeting so as not to have jet lag. So why, oh why, can I not do this the other way round? Answers on a postcard please…