For many years travel planning consumed our lives.
Our planning took us beyond the obvious: where to stay and what to do. We delved into the perfect time of year to visit and would there be enough to do to keep two daily walkers satisfied for many weeks or months?
We never settled on a destination without doing the research, and we scheduled everything well in advance. That kept us happy. With this level of detail, we always had a good idea what costs would be, so we could stay within our budget. For years and years of travel we honed those planning skills. Who knew how helpful that would be when our non-stop days of travel would come to an end?
How naturally we turned from destination travel planning to designing our little cottage at Kendal. at Longwood. We turned our conversations to what we wanted: comfortable areas for curling up to read, a worktable, a well-designed closet, comfortable seating, an abode that would remain uncluttered, etc. We made a list and referred back to it to be sure we fit in everything we wanted.
What did we already have to furnish our new cottage? We had 2 pieces of furniture: a lamp and a small cherry wood side table built by our daughter. Our family had stored for 6+ years some artwork, photo albums, a few books, and some boxes of kitchen necessities. That was the sum total of our possessions.
A lucky break for us: Kendal had a floorplan of the one-bedroom unit we planned to move into. Even while we were on the road, we could start to think about how to design possibilities. A modest budget was set. A furniture layout was created, and a master list of furniture and household items was prepared.
Even with minimally furnishing a small apartment, we had about 100 purchases to make, ranging from a living room rug down to a broom. With our carefully prepared list of items to find, we started at the top and did online research for the best buy in each category. We used a wide variety of sources including Consumer Reports and “The New York Times” Wirecutter. After we compared prices and features, a decision was made on an item, and then we moved to research the next.
We started popping into furniture stores as we travelled, but, more often, we researched furniture on the web. The two big purchases – a bed and a sofa – required more knowledge, consideration, and shopping than we anticipated. We spent the time and then took a leap of faith and ordered both online many weeks before we moved in.
On the last day of our drive from Florida to our new cottage in Pennsylvania, we stopped and bought some bed pillows. Arriving at Kendal, we furled out our mats and sleeping bags for our first night in our “vintage cottage.” Home!
We snapped the photo a few weeks later, once we had assembled the IKEA nightstands, purchased 3-way bulb lamps, and hung our blown-up photo on the wall (ordered from Canvas Champ), which was snapped in Spain’s Picos de Europa National Park.
We assembled the IKEA glass-door cabinet before the sofa arrived so the delivery people could position the sofa right next to it. (In the photo, note the borrowed folding chair from Kendal – which had been our only seat until the sofa arrived.)
We couldn’t possibly deal with all of our purchases arriving all at once like a giant tsunami, so we ranked our list by most needed, and only purchased a small number of items from the top of the list to arrive at our cottage first. As the items were unpacked and set up, the next wave of purchases would appear, and so the waves would continue. We were never overwhelmed.
For years, our travel planning had stopped when we had just enough information about our destination. Why not leave enough “unknowns” so we would have fun discoveries when we arrived? Carrying that planning style to our new cottage, we stopped short of planning all the details. When the living room was half-completed, we had a better sense what specific pieces would look just right in the available space.
All the experience learned from travel planning for years paved the way when it was time to start our life off-the-road.