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I mentioned the other day that now that American Airlines AAdvantage miles and US Airways Dividend Miles have combined their balances that I was planning to finally book a long-awaited getaway trip to Europe for late summer / early fall.
I still haven’t booked the trip, even though it’s been on my radar for several weeks if not months. You may have already heard of the term “analysis paralysis“, but it’s somewhat common in my line of work (software development)
Analysis paralysis or paralysis of analysis is an anti-pattern, the state of over-analyzing (or over-thinking) a situation so that a decision or action is never taken, in effect paralyzing the outcome. A decision can be treated as over-complicated, with too many detailed options, so that a choice is never made, rather than try something and change if a major problem arises. A person might be seeking the optimal or “perfect” solution upfront, and fear making any decision which could lead to erroneous results, when on the way to a better solution.
Analysis Paralysis in booking trips
So back to me (ME! ME! It’s all about ME!), I’m trying to book this trip to Europe.
In one sense, we have no real constraints to this trip. Within a 2-3 month period, we can go at any time, and we’re not set on any specific location in Europe. Since we live in Cincinnati, other than one flight to Paris on Delta (good luck getting award availability!), nothing goes to Europe from our home airport, so we will have to connect, and flying to ORD, JFK, BOS, IAD, EWR or anywhere else is just as good as any other airport.
You remember how we talked a few months ago about the Traveler’s Triangle?
Your flexibility on the dates of your departure and your location will get you the cheapest flights. So from that perspective, we should be sitting in the catbird’s seat!
The downside of all that flexibility
The downside of all that flexibility is that there is nothing forcing us to make a decision. It seems like every time I find some possible options, I think, “well, maybe there will be something else better” or “I don’t want to pay fuel surcharges or excessive taxes”. I do realize that it’s silly to quibble over whether we pay $70 / person or $150 / person for tickets that have a retail cost of several thousand dollars, but that’s where I’m at right now.
I’ve even had a few flight options sell out while I was waiting. Most recently, while I was waiting for US Airways and American miles to combine, the flight options I was looking at are no longer available :-(. I was reminded that American does allow a free 5 day hold on awards as well as unlimited changes to awards (as long as the origin and destination remain the same). I knew both of those things but didn’t quite realize them (in time), so I’m still stuck in “analysis paralysis”
Has it ever happened to you? What are some of the things that you’ve done to help combat analysis paralysis and just make a decision?
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This is me. ALL. THE. TIME. My husband and I research things to death to get that perfect trip and we have definitely missed out on opportunities that would have been quite good because we were paralyzed by indecision. I have nothing constructive to add other than perhaps admitting that you have the problem is the first step! 😉
One thing we are living about having United status is the ability to change award reservations at no cost. So we book a “darn good” itinerary, then see if the hotels and activities full in logically. If they don’t, we revise the itinerary, sometimes several times.
Yeah that is a good point. American actually lets you do this for free as long as you don’t change your origin or destination
I can’t really relate. But for us the highlights of our Europe trip were unplanned. Fly into somewhere, out of somewhere else, leave enough time to see a few things that aren’t in a guidebook. Rent a car for at least a day or two and get lost. It will be awesome!
This happens to me all the time. Not necessarily for what we’re doing on the ground, but booking those perfect flights (especially if we’re getting away from the kids!)
You know what snaps me out of my paralysis? My wife saying if I don’t book something she’s not going – “so get cracking!” Yikes.
So there is a name for my disorder….
I am having this issue right now trying to plan a trip to Australia for 2016. The booking window won’t even open for several more months but I want to figure out where I want to go and how much time I want to spend. (it’s a big country!)
I get so frustrated that I just put it all away and come back to it a week or so later. I have time right now, but soon there will come a day when it “has” to be done and I “have” to book the tickets.
BTW I too have been trying to plan a trip to Europe (or Egypt) leaving from Cincinnati. It’s all but impossible on AA. Unless you want to pay BA fuel surcharges. I’m trying to avoid driving to Chicago.