I get it. I totally get it.
I understand the desire to have an organised and detailed plan when you’re traveling. You’re in a new place and you want to ensure you see the highlights and maximise your precious time in a place. Knowing where you’re going with map and itinerary in hand, lets you cover everything you had wanted to see when you were anticipating the trip before arrival. You know roughly what you want and what you’ll get.
I admit, I often feel pressured when I arrive in a big destination to ensure I fit in all the must-see sights. That organised, planning approach gels squarely with my personality. I want to make sure I have plenty to do and know about things that I really should see. However this can be a little stressful because I don’t want to miss anything iconic or special, but am also turning a leisure activity into something that needs to be managed and organised.
By doing this, you’re missing something. Missing out on that sense of adventure, the joy in discovering new things for yourself. Despite my planning tendencies, one of my favourite things to do in a new place is to turn down a random street and explore. You never know what you will come across, be it a cute little church or a fantastic cafe.
This sense of freedom is why I love less-travelled places. There’s no grand list of advice on Wikitravel to review, no finely crafted, multi-day itinerary on Tripadvisor to follow. I don’t know what I’m getting into. I find smaller, less-visited destinations come with fewer expectations and bless you with a sense of freedom. I find myself enjoying these places a lot more because I don’t feel obligated or rushed and it allows me to simply wander and just get lost.
Now, I can’t fight my natural inclination to plan, so generally I compromise. I set out with an idea of what I want to see, but on the way if something random catches my eye, I’ll happily deviate towards it. Time and time again, it’s worked for me. Spying a big Golden Buddha in the distance in Da Lat, I went on a long walk that took me to parts of town I would have never seen. Wandering along a road in Bosnia lead me to the wonderful Pliva Lakes. Neither of these moments would have happened had I stuck to a plan because I didn’t know about either in advance.
Anyway, that’s why I like to get lost. If you don’t already, I hope you try it, you never know what you might find.
How do you like to travel? Highly organised and with clear intent, or freely and open to randomness? There’s no right answer, but share in the comments below.