Itineraries are Overrated
There are many things I admire about my husband.
Most of them I knew before we were married. His brilliance. Kindness. Integrity. His sense of humor. His dance moves and bartending skills.
There were some traits that surprised me after we were married, like his innate ability as a father. In fact, the first infant he’d ever held was ours, and yet somehow, he’s a natural.
Another trait that I’m deeply grateful for is how compatible we are when we travel.
This is big.
It’s extremely difficult to find a good travel partner. I feel like I have some seriously high expectations. I’m not easy to travel with and it’s painful for me to travel with most other people.
Even good friends.
When I travel, I despise making an itinerary. I hate everything about it. It honestly feels like I’m doing homework.
See the Vatican.
Photograph the Sistine Chapel.
Pose in front of the Coliseum.
Following any sort of itinerary is a sure way for me to ruin my trip.
Many people find comfort in a itinerary, and I’m not knocking them. It’s just not how I prefer to travel.
I like to have very loose plans going into a trip. I want to know when I’m flying in and flying out, and sometimes I have the first night’s accommodations booked.
Anything more than that and I start to panic that I’m boxing myself in.
On the road, I’ve met others who like this sort of travel. I’m not taking a trip to see specific things. I’m taking a trip to experience things. You never know who might meet on the road, and what interesting thing they might tell you about or invite you along to do.
Traveling without an itinerary means you get to travel like a local. You get to experience interesting things that make YOUR trip unlike any other. It gives you the opportunity to visit off-the-beaten-path places and meet people wherever you go. I can’t think of a better way to see the world.
When we were in Hong Kong, had we planned out an itinerary and accommodations for the entire trip, we never would have been able to experience most of what made our South East Asia trip so remarkable.
We flew in, and planned on couch surfing in the Central District of Hong Kong for a night.
That’s all we had planned.
We ended up loving our host SO MUCH that we stayed with him for a few days.
He showed us around his beloved city, hiked with us up Victoria’s Peak and gave us the local insider info on amazing restaurants and things to do.
Then he introduced us to some of his (amazingly cool!) friends from South Africa who ended up having a good friend who lived in Singapore.
We found $9 USD flights to Singapore and hopped on. She showed us around her amazing city and introduced us to delightful food and customs.
And then introduced us to her good friend who lived in Malaysia. And then we found $17USD flights to Malaysia…
You get the drift.
While this type of travel is fairly standard among the die-hard traveler set, it’s not for everyone.
And that’s ok.
But if you’re interested in a taste of what it feels like to travel without an itinerary, try this.
Take a Friday off work.
Grab your partner and pack a small bag with a few necessities – a toothbrush, a couple changes of clothes, a good book. Throw in some snacks and bottled water.
Get in your car and just start driving.
Any direction that you please.
Since you don’t have anywhere to be at a specific time, take your time.
If you see a sign for something fun, take the exit.
Sometimes when we take these drives, we’ll see a sign for a flea market, u-pick farm, or even a quirky shop.
We always stop.
Ask the locals if they have a recommendation for a good meal. Check it out.
When you feel yourself getting tired, use your phone to find a hotel for the night. If you come across a hotel that looks good during your driving, call and ask them their rate and compare it against the rate you pull up on your phone. You’d be surprised how different these two rates can be!
In the morning, check out and keep driving.
Spend the whole day exploring, and find a new hotel.
On Sunday, make your way back home.
My husband and I LOVE these types of unplanned trips. You don’t need to fly halfway across the world to experience the joy of unplanned travel.
Just get in your car and go.