Written by Maddie Eden, Marketing & Communications Intern
When traveling, it can be tricky to know when to plan things, and when to be spontaneous. Having both aspects can be good because it offers variety and change throughout your travels.
During my time abroad in Europe during the summer of 2019, I discovered times when it was good to have a plan, and times it was better to be spontaneous.
Plan: When there is a specific restaurant, site, or city that you want to see.
Sometimes people travel for a specific reason. You have a bucket list, and the number one country you want to visit is Japan. Or you want to go to Rome specifically to see the Colosseum because you have a true love for Roman mythology. Other times, you might travel to the city first and then decide there’s something you want to do or see. Once you arrive in a city abroad, you may have heard of a specific restaurant by word of mouth, and now you have to try it. It’s good to have a plan to visit these sites because they are clearly important to you. If it’s on your mind and it’s something you’re looking forward to, plan to make time to see it so you aren’t disappointed later on.
Plan: When it gives you peace of mind.
Certain people prefer planning over others. If you’re like me, planning can make you feel happier and less stressed. On the other hand, some people can book a one-way ticket and figure it out from there – no hotel booked, no cities in mind, just spontaneous adventure. It’s great if you’re the type of person who can do that, but for many having some sort of plan can give them peace of mind. It can be as detailed or basic as you want, but whatever type of plan you like to work with will probably work best, whether that be a checklist, a detailed itinerary, or some other approach to travel. If planning gives you peace of mind, it’s a good thing to do.
Adventure: When you’re looking for new experiences.
Depending on how long you’re staying abroad, you could spend quite a bit of time in one city or country. That means there may come a time when you’ve seen everything that you wanted to see. Rather than doing research and finding more places to add to that list, try wandering instead. If you leave without a destination in mind, you might find something better than you ever expected. When you’re hungry, walk around until you see something that catches your eye and looks good. When you’re bored, walk around until you find a new park to walk through or a new museum to visit.
Adventure: When things aren’t going according to plan.
There might be times abroad when nothing seems to go right. It might be because you missed the train you were supposed to catch, or because it was pouring rain on a day you were supposed to spend outside. The worst thing about planning things is that they don’t always work out. When your plans aren’t working, try to be spontaneous instead. This can keep you from feeling too overwhelmed and turn a bad day into a good one.
Whether you like to plan or you’re a more spontaneous traveler, including both approaches to your trip might result in the best experience. Having a plan while also being adventurous ensures that you will see all of the places you wanted to see, while also allowing you to have experiences you never could have planned for. It is truly the best of both worlds.