All travel requires making plans – a lot of plans. A weekend trip requires some planning. A two week vacation requires substantial planning – from weeks to months, depending on the vacationer. Traveling for the past year-plus has provided me with all the training I will ever need for a career as a travel agent. Rarely does a day go by in which travel plans are not discussed, made, haggled, paid for, and discussed again – or any combination of these.
This isn’t to say that I dislike making these plans – I really enjoy discussing and making plans. Planning is fun – it gets me excited about where we will travel to next and provides fuel to feed the endless flame that traveling has lit inside me.
Paying for them? Well, ‘enjoy’ isn’t the first, or second, word I would use, but its gotta be done.
The downside to discussing, making, and paying for all of these plans is that I get burnt out. This is definitely a case of too much of a good thing being bad.
Think of it this way: what is your favorite meal? Now imagine eating that same meal for dinner for 6 of the next 7 days. Repeat this for a year. Pretty soon, your favorite meal isn’t your favorite meal anymore. Sure, you still kinda-sorta-maybe enjoy eating it, but you start craving something else for dinner.
To solve this ‘problem’ (let’s be real, if this is one of the biggest problems I face, life ain’t bad), what I have learned to do is, from time to time, take the plans that have been made, bundle them up in a neat little package, and promptly toss them out the window. Give your old-favorite meal to the dog and say screw it, we’re going out for mexican (unless of your favorite meal is mexican food, in which case, I can’t help you because in my mind, going out to dinner always means going out for mexican).
Some of the best times Kim and I have had so far have been when we made plans, then abandoned them for something else.
For example: after nearly three months in Goa, we had planned a 18-day whirlwind tour of India that included stops in Udaipur, Jodhpur, Delhi, the Taj, Amritsar, Dharamsala, and Varanasi before we crossed overland to Nepal. When we first made these plans, we were excited because we would be seeing places that we wanted to see and would be showing each other places we had been while traveling solo. It sounded fun. We would be traveling again.
But, a few days before we were scheduled to depart, we were discussing it and both of us had only half our heart in the conversation. After a few minutes, with neither one of us sounding enthusiastic (you know, staring out the window, not really involved type of conversation you have when you don’t really want to do something), we finally looked at each other and in just that look – no words, just the look between us – we made the decision to abandon our plans.
So we talked about it some more, completing the discuss/make/haggle/pay/discuss again planning cycle. (Side note: when traveling long term with someone, you don’t just talk a lot – you talk about everything a lot.) During our conversation, phrases like feels like work and sounds exhausting were used. It was apparent to both of us that this did not sound like fun, and, after all, shouldn’t traveling at least sound like fun?
So, we canceled our procession of train tickets and booked a flight to Kathmandu. Instead of dreading countless hours on trains, we were looking forward to being in Nepal. We were going to the mountains. We were going to see Buddhist temples. We were going to drink butter and salt tea, umm, I mean eat chili momo’s. More than anything, it excited us – it lit a fire under our respective bums in a way that a marathon train tour through India couldn’t.
The best laid plans of mice and men, right?
So my unwanted advice to you is: every now and then, abandon your plans. If no one is going to get hurt or die, throw your plans out the window and do what sounds good at that moment. It might just be one of the best decisions you make – and even if it isn’t, who cares? It’ll be fun anyway.