So I am usually a planner and like to know exactly what I am doing, but I decided to spend my 3 months in America not knowing exactly how I was getting to my next destination and where I was going to stay. Most of the time it was all very last minute which added to the excitement of my trip. I believe that if I had planned everything and followed that plan, then I would have not had the experiences I was so lucky to have.
I knew that I wanted a 3 month trip to America, so about 2 weeks before I left for my trip is when I booked my ticket, so it was very last minute. It was so exciting but I was definitely apprehensive when the day arrived to leave. My first stop was New York which I had worked in before so I knew my way around. I had googled a number of hostels around times square so when I arrived in America I picked one to stay in. So on my way to America I had nowhere to stay. I definitely felt out of my comfort zone, but not having a plan made it more exciting, and I knew from then that my trip would have no set plan.
Are you a planner?
From experiencing 3 months with no plan I believe is the reason why I had such a great time, and made such great memories, having had some of the best experiences. I believe a traveller has no set plan:
The middle way is the right way, and the middle way for travelling is to simply plan your general route and fill in the blanks along the way. Buddha
Before I left for my travels I had put a map of America on my kitchen floor and pin pointed all the places I wanted to visit, I tried to plan the most logical route to visit all of my destinations. This was the only planning I did for my trip. I worked out that by spending no more than 5 days in each place, this would allow me to fit as much into my trip as possible. Of course this ‘plan’ did not work out. I found that some places I wanted to leave sooner, like Detroit, I planned to stay for 3 days however, after getting there I did not even stay a night, I went to my next destination the same day. I therefore had to organise my accommodation for my next location while on my way. Some places I loved like Nashville and extended my stay by about 4 days. You simply can’t predict that 3 days will be enough in one place and work to a schedule. I would book my Greyhound bus or Amtrak for my transport the night before I left, just encase things changed before then. I did not want to feel tied down to a plan.
When I rented a truck and visited the national parks (Zion, Grand Canyon, Horseshoe bend, Death Valley) I actually extended the rent on the truck just so I could visit a few more places. I was having too much fun to then let it end sooner than I wanted to. Yes it cost more money to extend the rental, but then look at the memories you have.
A great example I have of not having a set plan was when I was in Key West. The day I arrived in Key West I had nowhere to stay and ended up staying with a friend of a friend for a night. I had tried Couchsurfing but could not find anyone to stay with. I had a message on Couchsurfing later that first night of my stay, asking if I wanted to stay on a boat. I was very cautious about this so met up for a drink the next morning with the owner of the boat. That same afternoon I was on my way to the boat I would stay on. I ended up having my own boat for my stay in Key West, this would definitely not happened if I had organised a plan for my stay here. I was lucky enough to stay 3 nights on that boat and made friends with a sailing couple, who I was introduced to through my stay. This couple incredibly offered to let me sail back up north from Key West towards Orlando with them. So by leaving Key West earlier than originally thought, I spent an extra 4 days sailing with my new friends. My first ever experience sailing, and this also gave me the opportunity to stop along the way, and visit more places in Florida. This is the reason I will continue to travel with no set plan just to see what will happen and the opportunities and experiences I will be lucky enough to have.
There are a number of reasons why I think this way of travelling is the best way:
- Travelling without a plan gives you flexibility and the ability to just go with the flow. Enjoy the place you are in instead of rushing to your next destination.
- Spending longer in one place can give you a better feel for the area.
- If you are not flexible with your travels then any change to your plan will will lead to stress instead of enjoyment.
- From my experience, I met new friends by not planning.
- Travelling is all about pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, following a plan will not do this for you.
- Adrenaline feels amazing. Don’t know where you’re going? Don’t know what you’re doing? Didn’t you know these situations are what fight-or-flight was made for!?
- The spontaneity will add to the overall experience you get from your travels.
- Each mistake you make will build you into a better world traveller. Don’t be scared to make mistakes when travelling and not following a plan. It will help you grow as a traveller and an all round individual.
- The number of stories you have will be so much more interesting when they are not all planned out. Allow yourself to end up in places you never thought of, doing things you thought you would never do, to add to the stories you can share with everyone.
- Excitement every morning of waking up and the unknowing of where you are heading, and where you will stay. The people you will meet along the way, and the opportunities you will be introduced to.
- Travelling with a plan will most probably mean spending little time in one place. SLOW DOWN and enjoy where you are. Leave when you feel you are ready.
Let the city be your guide
Try not to use maps, just walk or drive and see where you end up. Remember that all the places that are on your lists are most probably tourist traps. Places people have the same pictures from. Lose the maps and find hidden gems in cities or countrysides.
That scary, excited feeling of not knowing where you’ll be headed or what you’ll be doing next makes the experience 100 times richer
I can honestly say that this way of travel is definitely the way I will continue to travel. I want to have the best stories to share and not just from a planned trip.
Who else loves to travel without a plan?
What exciting experiences do you have?
Miss Coddiwomple xx