While it can be great to have a plan to maximize every minute you have in your destination, there are also some very good reasons to throw out your travel itinerary. You will read plenty of travel advice that tells you to plan meticulously but sometimes, you know, it’s just best to go with the flow. I have traveled both ways – following a plan and flying by the seat of my pants – and they both have merits. Have a read through these reasons to throw out your travel itinerary and see how much planning you do for your next trip – or not!
You’re always saying, “I’ve gotta start being more spontaneous,” but that fleeting urge is about as spontaneous as you get. You don’t change a smidgen from your daily routine. Well, though traveling may seem spontaneous in and of itself, in creating an itinerary, you might be falling into your selfsame comfort zone of routine. When you prearrange everything, you leave little room for spontaneity. Spontaneity is the spark of life. It’s what happens when you remove yourself from your comfort zone and try something uncomfortable until it becomes comfortable to you. In this way you grow, you stretch your zone, expand it. Spontaneity will throw you off course, but you’ll always enjoy the ride, and it’s only one of the many reasons to throw out your travel itinerary.
This is your first, and maybe your only chance to visit this city/country, therefore it’s not a surprise that you want to attend every museum, monument, show, and event. Well, let me put it mildly: that’s never going to happen...and if it does happen, you’re not going to enjoy the whiplash and oversaturation that results. You won’t fit everything in, so if you must plan at all, just plan for the big guns, the things you are dying to experience. Don’t ruin your trip by penciling every last attraction into your itinerary. The more time you have at each attraction, the better quality the experience will be. And quality is always preferable to quantity.
Adventurous spirits don’t follow the guidebook or the map. They’re buoyed forth by the wind in their sails. It’s perfectly fine and even invigorating to show up in a country and not know where you’re going or what you’re doing. When you figure it out as you go, the adventure becomes that much more of a rush. One of the reasons to throw out your itinerary is so that your adventure can begin.
It’s often said that if you are depressed, you are living in the past, and if you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the moment. When you live in the moment, walking through the orange groves, the filtered light dappling through the trees, the leaves, the grass, the fruits so vibrant, the smell of the oranges intertwined with the sea breeze, a mix of sweet and salty. When you hear the birds chirp and the church bells ring. When you taste life on your tongue. This is living in the moment. This is peace. And there’s nothing like it.
An itinerary is a good way to set yourself up for failure. You know what to expect. And having expectations means that they’ll likely not be met, and you’ll likely be disappointed. When you drop the itinerary, you’ve no expectations. It’s you and the open road. Anything that comes your way, you greet it with open arms, and it usually supersedes any expectation you could have conjured up. When you don’t have a plan, the plan never fails.
You’ve scheduled every waking minute of your trip, so much so that you feel like it’s a job. Each museum, each tour, each must-see is a task. Keeping to a strict itinerary is like making your travel experience a daily to-do list. Although those tasks can be fun to check off at home, you make them so that you feel like you’ve accomplished something. Your trip’s “tasks” should not be tasks at all, nor should they need to feel like accomplishments. They should be fun activities that you WANT to do. So get at it!
There’s nothing like it. Absolute freedom. The freedom to lie on the beach all day, soaking up the sun, drinking a daiquiri, listening to the waves breathe in and out. The freedom to site-hop to as many monuments as you can see in 24 hours, feeling as though Rome was built in a day. The freedom to hike to the very top of the mountain, or to hike only half-way and cast a fishing line in the crystal clear lake waters instead. Just to be without itinerary. Just to be. As that’s the only way to be free.
Are you convinced there are reasons to travel without an itinerary?
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