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Travel Plans

January 2, 2012

Morro Bay Aquarium and Gift Shop

The night before I was leaving for a trip with my two friends, my mom asked “Are you packed?”

“No, I’ll do it later,” I said.

“When are you meeting CC and Ish?”

“I’m not sure,” I said. I knew we were leaving on Tuesday – we had talked about that when we made motel reservations about six weeks before. But we hadn’t discussed the trip since.

Mom shook her head. “Your dad would have a heart attack,” she said.

She’s right. In spite of Dad’s insistence on planning every detail of a trip weeks in advance, or maybe because of it, I prefer to leave things hanging as much as possible and just see what happens.

I learned my lesson when I went to Kauai for 8 days. I got the Kauai guidebook. I studied every map and memorized every attraction. I knew which restaurants were good and which weren’t – according to the book.

When I got to Kauai, I had an agenda. I was determined to stick to my plans, come hell or high water. This explains how I found myself drenched with rain, fishing in glass-slick mud that came up to my knees, trying to retrieve my flip-flops that had been sucked off my feet in the thick red goo. The guidebook said that the trail led to an unmissable scenic spot, and dammit, I was going to see the scenic spot, even if I slid on my butt all the way down the muddy trail to the ocean and then had to grip tree trunks to keep my balance on my way back up.

That trip broke me of travel planning. Now I do the minimum. When I went to Oaxaca, Mexico for 3 weeks, I didn’t read anything about it before I went there. I knew it was historic and beautiful and had an airport. That was enough for me. People started telling me about cool stuff to see even before I landed there. No guidebook necessary.

Costa Rica was the same way. My BFF CC went before me and found a place to stay. Then we bumbled our way across the country, clueless and enjoying every minute.

I like to travel anywhere. I just enjoy waking up somewhere different and going out to find out what it is all about. I try to pack well and to remember the things I need, but if I don’t, I can make do or buy what I need.

I talked to CC and Ish that night. We made a plan to meet up at 10 am. That was all the plans we needed.

  1. January 2, 2012 08:24

    You and I would be perfect travel buddies. I like to just show up at my destination and go from there. Sometimes I have a couple of things in mind that I’d like to do, but I’m not married to the idea. My sister and I have taken a number of very fun trips together using the “see what happens” method and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  2. January 2, 2012 09:55

    Unless I’m traveling for work, I gave up on the details a long time ago. I just don’t have time to spend pouring over travel books for hours trying to figure stuff out. Most of the time now, I just show up, do a cursory internet search on the area, then head out. On occasion I end up missing something I wish I had seen but, for the most part, I’m happier this way.

  3. January 2, 2012 13:48

    I second Average Jane’s comment — which is why I love traveling with her. I like to make a framework of what I’d like to do, then wing it on a day-by-day basis.

  4. January 2, 2012 22:07

    When I am doing the planning, I like to plan for one thing each day — one thing that doesn’t take a whole day to do. That way, we have a goal, but the day is still pretty loose. When someone else is doing the planning, I like to show up and be told where to go and what to do. Left to my own devices, I would spend my whole vacation by the hotel pool, reading books on my Kindle.

  5. January 3, 2012 12:47

    I’m becoming more and more free range when I travel. As long as I have a plane ticket and a room reservation a week in advance, I can punt the rest. Maybe I’ll try a “let’s see how far we get on $500” weekend trip this year.

  6. January 4, 2012 07:52

    I love maps, but for the purposes of orienting myself, not for planning sightseeing. The first thing I do when I visit a place is wake up in the morning and go outside for a walk.

  7. carolyn permalink
    January 5, 2012 12:41

    Our rule on trips is to not eat in any restaurant that we can frequent at home. And never eat in the same restaurant twice. My honeymoon consisted of two weeks in a 2-seater car with a trunk so small a suitcase didn’t fit. Seriously, we layered the clothes in the back and brought a small fold up bag to carry things into the motels. We had only one hotel reservation midway through and only because we were going for an event where there are 1,000 people in the same place. We drove from California to South Carolina and back. And yes, we are still married 8 years later.

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