How I love this quote:
"Travel is like a giant blank canvas, and the painting on the canvas is only limited by one’s imagination." – Ross Morley
When I was in the planning stages of my first cruise back in 2001, I combed through every book, magazine, website, review, video and photo I could find in order to choose the perfect cruise. Through others' eyes, I learned of the best ships, the best cabins, the best food, and the best destinations. I listened while others touted their advice on what to avoid and their 10-best lists. I ended up with many pre-conceived notions and over-inflated expectations of what cruise life is like. Granted, I felt prepared for that first ship adventure on the Grand Princess to the Western Caribbean, but I also dispensed with much of the useless advice I was given (despite the 1001 uses for duck tape, and how no one should leave home without it, I have never carried a roll in my 17 years of cruising).
I'm not saying that we should make the trip up as we go along - some preplanning is required. But I no longer plan down to the last pad of post-it notes. How many times do we visit the must-see sights in a destination only because someone said we'll be sorry if we didn't. For instance, when planning our time when the ship docked in Florence, it was suggested by some to combine our precious limited time in both Florence and Pisa. After all, how could we travel to this part of the world and NOT experience that leaning tower. Actually, we could. We've seen many a touristy photo - you know the one - the tacky photo of the guy pretending to hold up the tower so it won't fall. We didn't feel the need to waste time when there was so much beauty in Florence to see.
In other words, when you travel, create your trip from your own blank canvas. Start with the basics. Add your dream experiences - those bucket list items (the Sistine Chapel comes to mind!), but leave room for the unexpected - the seaside stroll, the impromptu music performance in the square, a chat with the locals over a pint in Dublin. See what that final painting reveals. It's those candid, unforeseen surprise moments that really make a trip!