Handing Over the Trip Planning to my Husband

by | Jan 27, 2016 | Adventures

If you were to ask my husband what it was like planning a vacation with me, he would first laugh and then tell you he leaves it all up to me. My need for control of situations around me and desire to fit in as many National Park Service sites as possible in a single trip means that it is just easier on everyone involved if I plan our trips. However, due to graduate school and health issues, the planning of our BIG vacation to the Pacific Northwest and Alaska (more posts coming soon) mainly fell on the sturdy shoulders of my husband. Even looking back on this and knowing what I was going through at the time, I still cannot believe I handed the reins over to anyone else. Seriously, I trust that man with my life and love him more than I can express, but it was still scary!

My Trip Planning Process

As a kid, my parents instilled in my that good planning, including a backup plan, are necessary to achieve successful trips. Knowing this, and following in my mother’s footsteps, I plan trips like a boss. First, I will spend an obscene amount of time researching the best places to eat, crash, and adventure for each location that we will visit on our trip. Second, I like to have backup plans for each … just in case. My backup plans have pulled through on several occasions and saved us the frustration of plans gone sour. Finally, I also like to book extra time each day that allow us to spend extra time at a specific place if we are loving it or even cutout early if something isn’t what we expected. So far, these steps have made for some amazing adventures.

Handing Over the Trip Planning

My husband is way more flexible with travel plans than I am. In other words, he’s a figure it out as we go kinda guy and this is what worried me most about handing over the trip planning to him. When he started planning the trip, he just opened his old school notepad on the laptop and started copying links to things he found in it along with a handful of descriptive words. When I would ask to see what he had, the lack of organization nearly did me in. However, it works for him and he was doing just fine, so I had to let it go and just appreciate his research.

I Couldn’t Let Go

Whenever I would have, or more likely need, a break during grad school I would spend a few minutes researching for our trip. After a few weeks of messaging J links to add to his plan, I couldn’t take it any more (let’s be honest, we both were surprised I lasted that long) and started an Excel-based research log all on my own to track what I was looking up. J liked it and we ended up moving it to Google Drive’s Google Sheets program (similar to Excel). While this is not as robust as Excel, it is online and we can both edit the document (even at the same time – which I loved and it came in super handing as we were narrowing down our choices). In the end, it really helped me keep connected to the trip planning, as I could easily look at the links he saved during my breaks and add comments.

As the planning started to wrap up, we each ranked the excursions and locations we had found to determine what we would purchase and plan. From there, J started organizing activities and locations by day so we could get a feel for the trip. He used our rankings to fill the days in and then showed me a few different versions (see sample below). We quickly settled on our itinerary, after I vetoed one of his top ranked excursions of back-country hiking in Denali because I lacked confidence in our wilderness skills, and he started the booking process. As he locked things up, he noted them in the spreadsheet and let me know.

Alaska Itinerary

A sample of our Alaska itinerary calendar.

Lessons Learned

For those of you who know me in real life or have been following me on social media for a while, know that this whole process was equally freeing and frustrating for me. I like to have my hands in every piece of travel planning, but I learned that it was actually more important for my mental health to step back and focus on finishing grad school and getting healthy. This process also reinforced the idea of shared responsibility and opportunity. J is just as capable of planning trips as I am, and in someways he is even better (he’s spends way more time researching and reading reviews than I do) at the process than I am. In the end, I survived handing over the trip planning and have a whole new appreciation for my husband’s patience with my need to stay involved in everything. ;)


Have you ever handed over trip planning to someone else? How did it go? Any regrets?

By Sara Beth

Sara Beth is a wanderlust soul who is focused on simplistic and mindful living. She is passionate about National Parks, road trips, and board games. Her early years were spent in the Driftless Area of Wisconsin. After graduating from university, she moved to Las Vegas, fell in love, and adopted a dog. Today, she lives with her husband and their dog in the suburbs of Washington, DC.

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  1. Lisa

    Love it, I feel like I’m reading a post about myself, although I’ve never gone so far as an excel spreadsheet (maybe next time!). My boyfriend and I have a great deal where I plan everything, and he drives. I think I’d go mad if I had to hand the reins over! Glad your trip worked out just as well :)

    • Sara Beth Davis

      I love how you divvy up your travel stuff! My husband has the “I must drive” gene, so I feel like we are in the same situation. PS – I love a good spreadsheet! :)

  2. christina ↠ currentlyexploring

    LOL. I definitely fall hard on the “plan nothing in advance” or “everything must be lined up to the minute” sides of the scale, so that excel sheet made me seriously chuckle on both ends. it’s always so hard to go against what’s natural, but kudos to you for giving it a go.

    can’t wait to see these alaska posts, I got to stop in on a cruise a couple years ago and have wanted to go back ever since. so much to explore!

    xo christina

    • Sara Beth Davis

      I totally get how you can be on both ends of the scale, Christina. When we travel to visit family or friends, I don’t plan a thing knowing our time will be taken with our loved ones. IF we are able to squeeze something in, I struggle on the spot and always end up doing something lame. I need to start a backup list for these trips!

      My husband and his family did an Alaskan cruise when he was in high school and they loved it. I’ve been pretty opposed to cruises in the past as I always thought they would take away my wandering ability, but I’m much more open these days and am even keeping my eye out for good deals.

  3. Lauren

    I need spreadsheets in my life! I am so unorganised when it comes to trip planning leaving everything to the last minute. I write lists, but I usually forget about them!

  4. Nicole Louise

    Can so relate to this! I’m excel mad, love a good plan and a spreadsheet! I don’t know how I would cope if I handed the reins to my boyfriend. I like to have all the planning fun to myself (Selfish, I know!)

  5. Stephanie

    You’re a brave woman for even trying! I try to only travel with people who understand my traveling needs. My needs typically include a plan for when and how we will eat and a general activity goal for each day. I am way to type A for spontaneous planning!!

  6. Voyager

    Sara, we seem to be like soul sisters! I too am a control freak and like to have the reins firmly in my hands, not that I doubt the capability of others, but you know, just one of those compulsive things :) Though I have relaxed a bit now and delegated the detailed itinerary planning to my husband and only review the draft plans :)

  7. sabrina

    Can your husband handle my Australian trip-planning? I love the research side, but I’m terrible at making decisions, so I need an assistant too! ;)

  8. Sarah Harding

    This is brilliant, its great that you handed it over to him for a try. I always like to plan my trips but my boyfriend would rather just make it up as we go along so it can be difficult. I have learnt to leave him to sort it a bit and its quite nice to not have to do so much work!

  9. Toni

    Oh my! I am such a trip planner that I don’t think I could handle handing any of it off! Welcome to ideas and what not, but I am so control freak in making sure not to miss something haha

  10. Angie

    Wow…you (and your husband) are much more organized than we are when trip planning! I love the spreadsheet idea but unfortunately we are not that organized! LOL! My husband and I both agree to allow me to do the main planning but he does provide me with feedback on logistics of our plans. We live in the Pac NW and finally did our first trip to Alaska in June 2015…best scenic trip EVER!

  11. Laura

    Your husband sounds like me and you sound like my boyfriend. It’s a nice balance, but I can definitely understand your frustrations! Thanks for sharing this – you two sound extremely organized! My boyfriend and I are about to head to SE Asia for a few months but we’re both going to just go with the flow and not plan too much.

  12. Stephanie

    Having a backup plan is essential. So important to have something ready to go in case Plan A goes sour. In Australia I definitely wasted a few days due to poor planning!


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