How do you plan your journeys? I mean, honestly? Are you a travel agency package holiday traveler? Or the group tour kind of tourist? I can understand that (well, part of me can, part of me can’t). It’s not always fun to plan a tailored journey. After all, it’s not just about choosing and booking some flight and some hotel. It’s also about designing your very own itinerary – without the help of a tour guide. And we all want our holidays to be well-planned, especially if we have limited time at our destinations, don’t we? Meaning that we have to research our own travel routes and decide on a schedule for sightseeing.
These are problems you don’t face if you book a package holiday. But is that package holiday really the last escape?
Why has journey-planning become so stressful?
The problem: For most travelers, their guidebook has been the only reliable source of information for the longest time. Which is good, in a way. It’s great that you don’t have to stick to guidebooks anymore. You can discover a destination on blogs and in magazines. Friends and relatives often have great advice tailored to your needs – just ask them! Novels and movies set in foreign places are a great source of inspiration and will definitely awaken your wanderlust. And let’s not forget the millions of beautiful travel photos on services such as Instagram, Pinterest or Trover. Eventually, travel bulletin boards do their very best to let the information overload swamp you.
And now, this is your part in the game: You write down all your findings. You absorb every tiny bit of (useless) information. After all, you are doing this for a reason, right? You want to DO and SEE all the things you now know about. Plus, you don’t want to experience your destination like a package holiday tourist – which is why you started collecting all that information in the first place. Congratulations! You have reached a point at which you have expert knowledge about your destination. You are a true insider – except that you still haven’t been anywhere physically.
Plus, there’s one hitch: Your schedule is running over and you don’t know where to squeeze everything in. If you are honest to yourself your holiday schedule is more stressful than your workload back at the office. At a certain point you realize that it will be unlikely to impossible to ever, ever, cross all items off your list. You don’t want to run from one sight to the next right?
Your plan was to take a holiday, not a boot camp.
Please don’t cry! You need to be strong now. Because there is a solution to your problem. But you probably won’t like it. Since it is: The ultimate guide to getting lost.
Mess it all up! Flush your plans down the toilet. Leave your books, guides, plans and maps at home (or at least at your hotel room).
Open your eyes.
Put on your most comfortable shoes and START TO WALK. Just walk. Get lost.
Let your eyes, ears, nose and heart be your guide. Granted: This works better in Paris than it does in Burkina Faso. But let’s assume that you are not in Burkina Faso. Let’s assume you are in Paris, New York, Cape Town, Cairo or in any other city in the world.
Follow the people that look likable to you. Talk to them, ask them for their favorite spots in the city. Believe in your instincts if you aren’t sure which direction to take.
And most importantly: Don’t be scared about getting lost. You can only truly get lost if you have a destination anyway. But your target is to delve into a foreign place as deeply as you can.
Even without any plan you will easily get around your holiday destination. I’m sure that there’s no better way to get to know a place. How is your travel guide supposed to know what you like, personally? Would it have guided you to that small grubby side street café that you discovered by chance and fell in love with? If it were listed in that guide at all, how high do you think is the chance you would have actually gone there?
Those who get lost have a much better chance of getting to know their surrounding. Which, by the way, isn’t true for cities only: A road trip, too, is more fun if you don’t plan and sketch out every single minute of it.
Where would you like to get lost?
Leave a comment now and tell me!