Does a fellowship phase have to happen at a Safe Haven?
My campaign started with the party travelling from Bilbo's house all the way to Esgaroth to pick up some source material for his book that was held for him there. Using the travel rules, they have, in one 4 hour session, travelled all the way to the High Pass. This involved three extended stops (a week or longer) to recover accumulated fatigue. Looking back at the rules, it seems those should have been Fellowship Phases. They left Hobbiton after the Midsummer festival, and mean to be in Esgaroth by winter. After they get through the High Pass, they will be taking their first Fellowship phase.
Had they turned their extended stops into Fellowship phases, it would mean that there would not have been any XP to spend since this was all happening in the context of one gaming session. They would have had a chance to recover some hope and even reduce Shadow points. Since all ability gains can only be one per Fellowship phase, I can see the desirability to have more Fellowship phases to focus bonuses, rather than fewer phases with more points that need to be spread more widely (assuming it is more advantageous to be better in a few things, than middling in many).
I realize that opening a campaign with a solid session of journeying is not typical, and for that reason I am interested in the opinions of other folks.