Debra Swersky
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My Planner Badge


We arrived in Brisbane at 7AM and found our way through customs and the arrivals hall to the airport commuter train. We were headed to our hotel downtown, but that was about all we knew. We didn't know how to get there nor how long it would take and we certainly didn't know what we would be doing for the rest of the day.

On the train to downtown Brisbane, we met a couple who was celebrating their three year wedding anniversary with a trip to Brisbane, Cairns, and Sydney. We were collectively confirming with each other that we were on the right train, so we got to chatting on the train-ride into town. Without hesitation they detailed their itinerary... including where they were going to breakfast that morning. When I said, "Wow. That's great that you've got this all mapped out." The gal of the couple said, "Yup. I'm a planner." In every attempt not to flinch, I sized myself up: Am I a planner? Do I have this all mapped out? I was standing there looking at her and calling my own identity into question. 

My "plan," to a planner, was pitiful. I knew that we were staying in Brisbane for the next two nights and then heading over to Auckland for one night. I knew our flight times into and out of New Zealand and when we were scheduled to head to Sydney and subsequently back to Dallas. From our conversations, I knew that we were both interested in seeing as much of both the North and the South Islands as possible and tramping (that's hiking over here) as much as time and weather allowed. Beyond that, I didn't have any plans, nor any true ties to locations... just a desire to see the great outdoors of the world with the love of my life, enjoy new and different restaurants and cuisines, and let myself experience each and every one of our destinations moment-by-moment. As for restaurant recommendations (and where to go to dinner that night), we were going to ask the locals... they typically know best.

After spending the day feeling like my planner badge had been stripped, I decided that I was being too hard on myself. (And it's true, I was being too hard on myself.)

I am a planner. I have this all mapped out. 

What is "this"? "This" is the important stuff. "This" is the overarching idea of the trip. "This" is the "right person on the bus" with me. And "this" is the first direction to set our trip into motion. The rest we'll be making up along the way. With everything that we do we'll be asking ourselves the following questions:

  • Are we allowing ourselves ample time to enjoy the great outdoors?
  • Can we or have we enjoyed a new restaurant or cuisine?
  • Have we packed our day with too many details and logistics?

Though general, these questions will help us to structure our decision-making on places to go, things to do, and sights to see. Each question will be hard to consistently answer affirmatively (for your typical planner), but I'm confident that by the end of the trip we'll figure it out. 

Lastly, and as for the planner badge, I think that I earned your typical planner badge through the plethora of personal and professional experience that I have planning trips. And with this trip I'll be earning a stripe or two to add to it. It takes a different kind of planner to make calculated decisions towards overarching goals.

Debra Swersky