What’s your travel style? Are you itinerary and schedule driven, needing to have every step mapped out in advance or are you content to arrive without a plan and let happenstance be your guide?
I saw this prompt on my reader and was instantly hit with war-like flashbacks. Days of being in the trenches of Google Maps, scouring Trip Advisor for trip advice, and bookmarking anything I could potentially find useful. The “eight best types of mushrooms to eat in Europe” is probably something I’ll never need but I panicked and bookmark it “just in case!” Oh what grounds would I ever need to know the best types of mushrooms in Europe?
To answer the question (the prompt not the mushroom one), my travel style is caught between planning addict and spontaneity. It is the strange marriage between being paranoid as all hell before leaving and then once arriving, saying “fuck it” to months and months of planning. It’s a vicious, rather useless cycle that I always get caught in.
I even plan for trips that most likely aren’t going to happen. Look at this one for example:
This picture has been rotting on my desktop for five months already. Dare we ask when this road trip to Texas and New Orleans will happen? Summer of 2016. Yes that’s right ladies and gentleman, without the knowledge of my travel mates (my two roomies) I have gone and planned what we will be doing on our last summer together.
I hope they like BBQs and cowboys.
When actually travelling though everything is off the table. While most of my current travel experiences involve trying to run away in Athens from my own family and being forced to go shopping for five hours instead of exploring some of the most beautiful places in the world, when I do travel with friends we just run with it. Quebec City was complete guess work where our plans consisted of either myself or my two friends Jayan and Steven mentioning something cool we saw and then just doing it.
While on Île d’Orléans we saw this cute little (very empty) cafe on the roadside. It was the kind of place that had an identity crisis between five different restaurants all at once. Out front there was an ice cream stand, inside a restaurant, and then tucked away was their little cafe/preserves shop. We stopped there to grab something to drink, and I got a green tea to sip on after stuttering my way through offensively broken French. After that my friends and I just sat there staring out at the view of Québec.
I can say without hesitation that it was one of the most relaxing moments I’ve had in years. The weather was windy but warm, a small weathered art-filled cottage sat off to our right, and a small forest to our left. It was a surreal place where everything just melted into the background for twenty minutes. I claimed the land nearest the water as where I was going to put my summer home, and Jayan took the field. We were going to become french woodsmen and part-time art dealers!
The trend continued throughout our time on the island. We climbed up a random observation tower and used their equally as random playground, that probably hadn’t seen kids in eons, to inflict agonizing pain on Steven with the seesaw. We stopped at artisan bakeries, cider tasting stores that had geriatric wards shuffling through tours, and oil dealers in the old french villages all while imagining that we were the first settlers who had step foot on the island. The irony is not lost on me that the first settlers couldn’t have had fig balsamic tasting sessions. Finally, we walked along the shore as people wind surfed in the E. Coli infested waters (they should have mentioned that before we showed up to Baie De Beauport in bathing suits and towels only to be laughed at).
I find that while planning is soothing and fun to do, when going on a trip the best thing is just to let things happen. Travel shouldn’t be something you need a vacation from. We spend most of our lives on schedules and hurrying to meet deadlines and the point of leaving home is to get away from all that. Sure, have fun and get excited by planning out what you want to happen because often it gives you great ideas, but if an opportunity arises be sure your plans are flexible enough to take it.