When travelling, I find it very stressful to have tight schedules. I now try to keep my plans loose, and sometimes barely have a plan and merely ‘wing it’. However, I do like having a contingency plan (and usually many of them, for different things, at different parts of my journey) because things will always go wrong somewhere, often beyond my control.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I go through my travelling life blindly, but an exceptionally good skill to aspire to is to stay calm when things go wrong – easier said than done, especially when I’m alone in a different hempishere. It’s something I have to work at constantly but I persist in trying. It sure has made travelling less stressful and more often than not, has taken me to amazing places and unexpected opportunities. Life is about ebbs and flows, and that’s important to remember when things get too busy and I get swept up in the strong, forceful currents of life and things beyond my control happen.
Some travellers may think having quite loose plans is careless and yes, it can bring a few hiccups but if I’m flexible, things always work out one way or another. It’s all about perspective. I look upon it all as a grand adventure, and I am always learning because of it. I do tend to travel more in off-peak season and that helps a lot, too!
After travelling tens of thousands of kilometres around Australia, mostly in the outback and country regions, and many thousands of kilometres through Europe, the relatively loose schedules I now travel by have allowed me to stay longer in places I really like, or keep moving on. Flexibility is so underrated.
Brochures, photos and websites are great to give me an idea of where I’m headed but it’s best to see things with my own eyes and get the feel of a place. Some places I just don’t feel good about and that’s just how it is. Luckily I haven’t been to many places where I have felt an urge to continue straight through but it has happened. For the most part, moving on has put me in unexpected places I have totally fallen in love with, all over the world.
“Buy the ticket, take the ride.” – Hunter S Thompson
When I was planning my European trip, I was overwhelmed looking at endless websites or brochures, let alone trying to book accommodation for every single day, in numerous towns and countries. I really wanted to explore and not be forever looking at the time and feeling pressured. I had a bed for every night of the two months I was away, so it all worked out fine doing in that way i.e. booking accommodation and transport only a week or so ahead.
So, my advice is to just go and don’t stress over too much planning. Find a map and then pick some amazing forests, or buildings, or beaches, or mountains…. and go. Try to wing it as much as possible. If for some reason you can’t stay in a town you have chosen, pick one nearby instead and just travel to the town you originally wanted to visit on a day-trip rather than completely discarding the idea/route. That’s how I found one of my favourite towns in Germany, Klotten. My son chose accommodation at Klotten because we couldn’t find anything at Cochem only a week prior to lobbing in the Mosel region. We had the very best experiences in Klotten that made our time there incredibly special.
Travelling is meant to be therapeutic, so if I can keep stress to a minimum, that will make my trip so much more enjoyable. I research as I go, talk to people, really ‘feel’ places….. Sometimes I really connect with people along the way who will tell me of their experiences and I’ll suddenly end up going hundreds of kilometres in a different direction to what I originally thought I’d be going. It’s great and only adds to my adventure. I never know who I am going to meet when travelling and that is one of the real joys.