Travelling Homebody - trip planning mistakes

3 trip planning mistakes you don’t want to make

Recently, I went on a trip to Central Vietnam — I’d been itching to get back to Hue City, which I visited in 2010 on my first trip to Vietnam. It was a well-deserved break and coming off the back of a stressful time, including health issues among other things.

The trip itself was super relaxing because I went with my Vietnamese partner (the next best thing to travelling alone), which meant I didn’t have to worry about minor details(!) like dealing with language issues. Consequently, I was very lax in my travel planning and made a few trip planning mistakes that I wouldn’t normally make if I was travelling alone. I did no research (other than prices on air fares and accommodation), so we had to figure out a few things when we got there.

Trip planning mistake #1: distance

Knowing we would be in Danang and Hue for three nights each, I asked my partner which place we should stay first, and he suggested Danang. Without thinking about it too much, I booked our accommodation in Danang and then Hue, and then arranged the flights: a mid-afternoon flight to Danang from Hanoi, and a mid-morning flight back to Hanoi from Danang.

The first flight wasn’t an issue. Getting to our hotel in Danang from the airport was simply a matter of getting a Grab car. But once we were in Danang, we realised that we needed to get to Hue three days later — and Hue was 100km away, at least 2 hours by road. Oops!

We discussed the options, and decided to go with the bus because it was cheap (VND 100,000 per person or AUD$5) and convenient (it picked us up from our hotel at 2.30PM). My partner made all the arrangements — in Vietnamese, of course.

Take away: if you’re staying in more than one location, make sure you know the distances involved. 

Trip planning mistake #2: time

Checking our flights back to Hanoi from Hue, we realised that our flight left at 11.15AM — and we had to get back to Danang from Hue, which was at least a 2 hour journey. Yikes! That was cutting things fine — assuming we’d be there one hour earlier (10.15AM), so allowing for the 2-hour journey (if there were no delays), we’d have to leave Hue at 8.15AM at the latest — and that was assuming that we had transport back to Danang (see next mistake).

Stressing about time and getting to the airport on time does not make me a happy traveller (I have China to thank for that). If I had my time again (pun intended) I would have booked a flight later in the afternoon, taking into account the distance, and transport available.

Take away: unless there are reasons otherwise, it’s always better to get a later flight to allow for contingencies.

Trip planning mistake #3: transport

With the flights booked, I took for granted that we could easily get from Danang to Hue and back to Danang in time for our flight home, which was a major issue. On Day 2 in Hue, we went to a local travel agent to book the bus back, only to find that the bus left too late. If we caught it, we would have missed our flight. I toyed with the idea of rebooking flights when my partner remembered the train!

He searched on his phone and found the train departed at 8AM and arrived at 10.15. Almost perfect! So we booked the train, which was quite a bit cheaper than the bus at VND 77,000 per person (around AUD$3).  The train station in Danang was a short drive from the airport, so even if the train was late (which it was) we would still get to the airport in time for our flight (which we did).

If I’d planned this trip properly, I would have saved myself some trouble and stress, and discovered that Hue had an international airport! D’oh!

Takeaway: look at all your transport options before booking your travel arrangements.

Photo: Truong Tien Bridge, Hue by me. 

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