Are you organised, disciplined and a planner? Or are you adventurous, thrill seeking and spontaneous? Travelling is probably one of the best things to do out there, and some people prefer planning their trip to make sure they don’t miss anything out, while others may take the spontaneous, “Hey let’s do this!” route instead.
There obviously isn’t a right way to travel, but what are the pros and cons of both planning an itinerary for a trip or just ‘winging it’?
Pro’s of planning out your trip:
1. No wasted time as time is precious!
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We think one of the best things about having an itinerary planned out for your trip is that you know where you’ll be going and exactly what you’re going to do on a day to day basis. There’s no time wasted and you get to do as much as you can (and want to) within a period of time! And we all know that time is of an essence, especially when you’re out on a short trip!
2. You won’t miss out on anything important!
Credit: Kamilla Oliveira
It’s pretty common to have a list of things to do or see when you’re travelling, especially if the place you’re visiting has tons of attractions all around. When you know exactly where you want to visit, you won’t go home at the end of the trip thinking “I wish I went to the ninja village instead” or “Can’t believe I had no time to see the Taj Mahal!” just because you got distracted (or lost) at a particular area or two!
3. You save money!
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YES. YOU SAVE MONEY. Okay, it's more like you actually know how much you’ll be spending on transportation, food and attractions so you don’t waste money because of reasons like missing the last bus thus having to opt for a more expensive cab instead, or even because you can’t get a room at a budget hotel and end up having to cough up much more to stay at a 5-star hotel when you’re on a budget! See, planning is beneficial to you (and your wallet) ?
4. You don’t worry about the unknown
Ah, the calmness of knowing your direction. “Where will I be at 930am? Why, sitting at the pretty little café across my hotel eating croissants and drinking coffee before taking the 10am bus at the stop twenty steps away that will take 15 minutes to reach Avenue des Champs-Élysées, where I will spend 2 hours shopping at Chanel.” Okay, maybe not that long or detailed. But there's still the feel of being confident and calm knowing that everything is already planned out such that all you have to do is relax and follow the schedule! Maximum effectiveness confirmed ?
But what are the cons?
1. The stress of planning it all out
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Okay, we all know that planning things out can be quite a headache. You’re going to have to spend hours researching and carefully selecting the most efficient modes of transportation, the most convenient hotels that suit your budget, the best things to do and pack them all together within a period of time.
Got too many things on your list? Cutting some out could also be stressful, cause you’ll wonder if you made the right decision visiting a samurai village instead of a ninja village. What more if you’re doing your planning at the last minute!? But then again, if you’re a planner, you’re probably already listing things out and carefully picking out your hotel months away from your actual trip, aren’t you?
2. The stress of actually keeping to your schedule!
Is it time to leave yet? Do we have to be at the bus stop now? The constant stress of making sure you’re at a particular place at a particular time could get to you, and you’ll find yourself checking your watch over and over again to make sure you’re on time and on schedule! Want to stay longer at that pretty cobblestone alley? You’re going to have to sacrifice something if you actually do stay! The question is, what will it be? Oh, decisions decisions ?
Pro’s of travelling on a whim
1. It becomes an adventure!
Suddenly feel like taking a trip this weekend? Alright! Pick a place, get your tickets and pack your bags! We’re going on an adventure! Not planning out your trip is actually a very fun, albeit risky thing to do. You go where the wind takes you, and you end up discovering so much about not just the place you’re visiting, but also so much about yourself. It’s so exciting and exhilarating- perfect for thrill seekers and those looking to discover the unknown!
2. You’re Flexible!
The flexibility of not having to stick to a particular plan is one of the best feelings you can have while travelling. If you decide that you like a particular place, you can extend your stay there instead of having to leave because you need to be somewhere else. Found out there’s going to be an amazing show happening in the area tonight? Let's go check it out!
You’re free to do whatever it is you like without sacrificing it for something else. Realised you don’t like a place? Well, on to the next one! You’re not forced to stay another day (or another hour or minute… or second..) and you can just move on to the next best thing already!
3. You meet new people!
We think this is one of the best things that happens to people when they travel spontaneously. You meet unexpected people at unexpected places and you get so much information from them about the place you’re in and the places you should visit and where not to go, what to eat, what to do. It’s an information gold mine! The best way to discover a country is kicking it back with the locals, and if you’re lucky, they’d probably bring you to places you’d never have known existed! Forging new friendships and keeping them for the long run is an added bonus!?
4. You can relax
Best part about not having pre made plans? The ability to sleep in when you’re tired and not being forced to wake up early just because you can’t miss the buffet line you’ve paid for in advance! Okay, that’s probably one of the possible reasons… but really, you can relax and not be stressed out because you’re forced to follow your scheduled plans.
Sometimes we’re hit by bouts of exhaustion when we travel, and taking a couple of extra hours to rest in between the days when you've already made plans could result in missing out on things that you wanted to see and not be able to push it to another day or time. Not only would you risk spoiling your plans, but your mood as well. And being bummed out during a trip would be sad, wouldn't it ?
But what are the con’s?
1. Anxiety from the unknown
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So not everyone can deal with not knowing their next plan. Travelling spontaneously can be a little scary because you’re just going with the flow of things. You probably don’t have a hotel booked for your entire trip because you don’t know how long you’re going to be somewhere, so you’ll end up looking for a place to stay at the last minute. That too if you get a room. And what do you do if you don’t?
Whoa, calm down over thinker! That’s pretty unlikely to happen, because there are many alternatives available, but it still remains a possible risk. Despite it being a little scary, if you push through, you’ll probably find it all worth it in the end! ☺️
2. It’s more expensive
We’re not going to lie, you could end up spending much more than you planned to when you’re out on an adventure. Some things are cheaper when booked in advance, but when you’re out exploring and uncertain of where you’re going to be tomorrow, you might end up incurring additional costs on transportation, attractions and accommodation. However, not all last minute bookings are more expensive (depending on timing, of course), so try and take advantage of last minute deals that might be available for you!
3. Unexpected problems!
Spontaneously travelling does not mean not doing your homework beforehand. You’re going to have to be street smart when you’re out there in a foreign land, and taking extra precautions in the case of an emergency is crucial. You’re at risk of facing unexpected problems, so be sure to always have a plan B should it happen to you (fingers crossed it doesn't!). Whether you have an international insurance secured, extra cash on hand and off hand, emergency phone numbers keyed in and even the location of your home country’s embassy written down, it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
So what’s best for you?
Credit: Life Compass Blog
This is something only you can answer! ? If you’re someone who wants to try out spontaneous travelling but the thought of the unknown scares you, try taking baby steps first. Do your research, book a hotel for a night or two in a city so you can have a feel of it first before deciding to continue there or move on to another city. On that note, try booking your stay at another hotel a day earlier instead of doing it the day/night itself to avoid the possibility of not having a room available when you’re finally there.
Eventually, after a few trips out, you will gain the confidence to travel spontaneously without any plans made ahead. This is the time you will experience the world as its best (and sometimes, its worst), but all in all, it will be something to keep with you forever as the memories made and the experiences you face will build a better you - both in body and soul.
There’s nothing better than actually experiencing life instead of just reading up on the possibilities of living, so good luck and we hope you’re ready to experience what could be some of the best times of your life in some of the most amazing places around the world!