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A relaxing holiday? Sure, once you’ve planned things down to every granular detail

Never a man to leave things to the last minute, Phil Brown is making plans for his upcoming holidays and finds a surprising kindred spirit

Feb 19, 2024, updated Feb 19, 2024
FILE - A traveler walks along a moving walkway between terminals at Logan International Airport in Boston, the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. Logan is one of the three biggest airports in New England slated to make improvements to control towers, gates and mechanical systems under a nearly $1 billion federal plan to strengthen the nation's air travel infrastructure. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

FILE - A traveler walks along a moving walkway between terminals at Logan International Airport in Boston, the day before Thanksgiving, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. Logan is one of the three biggest airports in New England slated to make improvements to control towers, gates and mechanical systems under a nearly $1 billion federal plan to strengthen the nation's air travel infrastructure. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

We’re going on holidays soon so I’m now in full planning mode. Which irks my wife somewhat because I am a little too organised for her liking.

If I could I would travel with a clipboard, a whistle and a megaphone. I know, I should be a professional tour leader, right? I would need a little flag as well.

I may not have a clipboard but I do have a folder in which everything is kept. And I am now working on an itinerary for our visit to Hong Kong in May. A detailed itinerary.

For every trip we have taken overseas for the last 30 years I have used a travel diary, too, which records the highlights. These diaries fill a deep drawer in my bedside table and may one day be the basis of some serious research by someone in, say, the 24th century, who discovers them in an archive.

Meanwhile I am focused on the present, writing lists and building the itinerary day by day and with a sense of satisfaction.

My wife complains that she wants some free time, time to relax and just mooch around. This idea is anathema to me.

She suggests I should have been in the army and I do tick certain boxes in that regard when it comes to my organisational skills. I would have made a reasonable quartermaster at least.

But my brief military experience as a sea cadet on the Gold Coast when I was a teenager proved that insubordination was an insurmountable problem for me. It’s a conundrum, wrapped in a riddle and tied up in brown paper and string.

Still, I do approach each holiday with military precision and I have my lists, my itinerary, phone numbers for any contingency, insurance policies and other material and it all goes into a transparent folder for the journey. The folder is stowed in my backpack for easy access because I like to review it all on the plane and marvel over my own work.

I mean an itinerary really can be a work of art.

When we went to Japan in 2018 (I love Japan because they are organised too) I had everything worked out with all the paperwork in my folder, documents with lots of highlighting and underlining.

On the plane, not long after takeoff, I took it out to review it. That’s when my wife gestured to a man across the aisle. I was travelling with my wife and son; he was travelling with his wife and two daughters.

He was taking out his own folder, which looked exactly the same as mine and he was reviewing his own itinerary. I looked at him and he looked at me and it was like … snap!

“That’s scary,” my wife said as I nodded to him and he nodded back.

“A brother from another mother,” I said under my breath.

So, it’s not just me, is it?

 

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