I’m going to Turkey next month, and I’m really excited to get outside, move around without guards, and breathe some healthier air.

Yesterday, I realized that I could take the train from Istanbul to Ankara, and that made me surprisingly happy. I really enjoy train travel (well, ‘cept for one particular overnight journey in India). And from there, I can either do slower trains or buses to get deeper into the country.

Today, I’ve been trying to figure out my flights from Dubai* to Istanbul. I checked the prices and schedules of 10 airlines because I want the best deal and am hoping to minimize time in Dubai (a city too expensive for my taste with only a few mildly interesting things, which I can see during one of my following 3 trips through). And I’m reminded of two things about myself.

One, I’m a maximizer. I will move every single variable in an equation until I think it’s perfect. Of course, there is no “perfect,” and moving times and costs has the effect of changing everything else. While I recognize this problem and I try to focus on “good enough,” it’s a constant battle, which is particularly painful during trip planning.

And two, I have never really budgeted for vacations. I always budget my time off from work, but never the cost of the trip. I know a lot of people set money aside and know to the penny what the trip can cost them. They might have an expectation for airfare, housing, food, and incidentals. However, I don’t do any of that. I have tried on a couple trips because people were joining me, and they needed some sense of the price (for their own budgets). But I’m actually fairly bad at setting or determining the price of my vacation in advance of the actual planning. Instead, I just try to get the best deal on each transaction with a couple splurges on items that are super important to me (like the houseboat in Kerala).

I’m sure these traits are interrelated, and maybe someday I will approach trip planning differently…but I’ve got a long way to go.

btw – Feel free to add comments for any places in Turkey that I should be sure to research as I’m planning my trip. So far it’s a couple days in Istanbul, a few days in Cappadocia, and then I have some decisions to make 🙂

*Note: it really is sad that I even have to fly through Dubai. Ariana airlines flies directly to Istanbul from Kabul, but it isn’t approved by the donor supporting my contract so my company won’t pay for the flight (however, they do pay for the leg to Dubai…). With the time and money wasted (especially if I have to stay the night in Dubai), I’d like to just book through Ariana myself. However, I’ve heard just enough bad press about how they maintain their planes to make me wary…so I’ll be traveling through Dubai twice next month en route to/from Istanbul.