I absolutely love to travel.
Seriously. Love it. And on a recent trip to Austria I started to think about why I love to travel so much, and if there is anything I do that helps me actually enjoy traveling. And there is. I often travel without a plan. The flights and hotels are booked, but the days are unscheduled. This is 100% opposite from how I generally am. I am a planner. I would even call myself type A. So I started to ponder why I travel almost opposite of how I live my day to day.
I’d like to say it is because my type B husband has helped me live a more relaxed and unplanned lifestyle. And while partially true, this habit started years before we were dating and is more intentional then I realize, because:
- Traveling is my break from planning. By doing very little research, I don’t enter a vacation with a list of to-dos. Managing my calendar (personal and work), my husband’s calendar, the kids’ calendar and all that needs to be done to make a household run, I grow tired of planning. To me a true vacation means there is no set agenda. There is nothing we cannot alter. There is nothing we have to do.
- I’m OK to miss out. To travel without a plan you have to be OK to miss out and let the trip unfold. On a recent trip to Budapest, we we were unable to see a museum we both wanted to go to because we thought it was open on Sunday, which it normally is, except it was All Saint’s Day that Sunday so it was closed. Had we done better research, we could have gotten to the museum on Saturday. But, we didn’t. And that’s OK with us.
- I desire to be carefree and slightly selfish. My favorite way to travel is just to do exactly what I want to do. Whether that be sleeping in or getting up early, seeing a museum or shopping, working in a cafe or going to a dance class. When I don’t have a set plan, I find I am more open to trying something new and doing exactly what I feel like doing.
- I prioritize getting lost. Through travel you are able to see and experience different cultures and push yourself out of your comfort zone. But if you are always running off to the next event, you miss the moments to just get lost in the music playing in the cafe, or lost in a book in the park, or even literally lost in the city. You need unstructured time in order to truly relax and recharge.
You may be thinking, this all sounds great, but you must do some research, right? You’re right, I do. I don’t have a plan but I do research via word of mouth. Seriously! I ask friends and family who have been to wherever I am going what they would recommend as often what people can remember off the top of their head is worth going to. Think about it – if you could share your favorite spot from the last city you visited, what would it be? For me, it would be the Opera house in Budapest.
You may also be thinking, how does this work with kids? Traveling with kids is different – I totally admit that. Our most recent family vacation (with my three step-kids) was planned to the day. We even bought tickets ahead of time. We were more prepared than when I travel just with my husband or alone, but we were able to sneak in some time to get lost and to miss out on some activities we were hoping to do because we were too busy having fun on the activity we were doing.
If you are thinking about trying this way of traveling, there are three key tips:
- Don’t over plan your day. Give yourself time, and then even more time, to get from one activity or destination to the next. My rule of thumb is try to not have more than two activities planned for the day.
- Prioritize quiet time. Hang out at the beach, read by the fire, or take a nap! You need a vacation to recharge, so prioritize recharging.
- Get a paper map. If you want to get lost and find something new, get a paper map and leave your phone for taking photos only. This is easier to do with international travel, so it will be an extra challenge if you do this state side!
Traveling without a plan is something I love and truly look forward to. How do you travel? Any travel tips to share?