Seven Things Guide Books Don’t Tell You – pt. Five

No plan is the best plan!

If you get a travel book, go straight away to the “Planning” page and tear it out.

Be brave! Make one initial reservation for travel and get ready to ride the ride. Planes fly every day. Buses run every day and hostels have beds available every day.

Too much planning ties you to a place and time limit. We arrived in Cairo with the intention of staying for two weeks. If we had made reservations for a bus and the next accommodation, we would have stayed in Cairo for just those two weeks and missed the adventure we experienced from week two to week eight, when we finally moved on.

The idea of travel is to unwind, be spontaneous, and relax. Too much planning interferes will these objectives. If you try to do it all, you become so focused on completing your list that you forget to absorb the moments. You set yourself up for a sense of failure if you do not cross each activity off your list.

Leave space in your itinerary to rides bikes in the rain, sneak in and stay the night in the caves of Cappadocia, take a cooking class, or attend a soccer game.

If the thought of not planning is causing chaos in your anal mind, don’t worry, you can plan some, just make less detailed plans. Plan the cities to visit, but leave wiggle room in your dates. Or choose fewer places to visit in each city leaving time for spontaneity or for adding a few more activities once you arrive.

Remember, you are there to experience the culture and the people in the countries you visit. In many countries (especially the Middle East) strangers will invite you to their home for tea, or shopkeepers will ask you to sit and have tea in their shop. If you are rushing to get to the next museum, you may miss unforgettable moments that you can’t plan for. When people ask me what my favorite experience was on our two-year trek, my mind does not go the memories of places I have seen, but rather times spent with people I have met.

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