Road Trip Planning; Throw Out the Itinerary and Prepare for Adventure

The Crooked Road to Floyd, VirginiaAre you a trip planner? Before you go on vacation, do you put together an itinerary (“On Wednesday, we’re going to play mini golf and have fun, dammit!”), and chart your exact course on your GPS (“At Exit 25 we’ll stop and have lunch”)?

I used to be a planner. I thought that the more organized I was for a vacation, the better it would be. I would waste hours on the web, researching every detail about where we were going. Then I’d chart out a Plan B, just in case.

This would guarantee that our precious vacation time was the best it could be, right?

Not always. If either Plan unraveled, I would blame myself, even if some mess couldn’t be avoided. Lord help us if a backpacking trip got rained out, or too many others were camped at our favorite lake. I would become the Queen of Sulking, dragging my lip on the ground and pouting all the way home. The “perfect vacation” often eluded us, because I had a hard time going with the flow.

“Stress comes from trying to fit life into the box we want it to be in, rather than accepting the way it comes. You might as well live closer to the truth.”

— from an article about meditation in Prevention Magazine

Allow for Adventure; Stop Planning!

Jupiter’s TravelsWhen we first started talking about this trip in the summer of 2006, I went into planning mode. I bought books and an atlas, and got online – a lot. That Fall, we paid a visit to our friend, world traveler and motorcycle adventurer, Ted Simon. We asked him how he went about planning his own round-the-world trips.

Planning? Don’t do it. Pick an area to see, then get there, but don’t plan too much or you’ll miss out on any real adventure, he advised.

Huh? How could we do a trip like this and not even chart a course? Ted was far more experienced than we when it comes to traveling, so as much as I had a hard time believing that advice, I held onto it. Later on, Carol White, author of Live Your Road Trip Dream, gave similar advice in her book.

One year later, as you can see on our Route Maps, we haven’t gone from “Point A” to “Point B” in a straight line. Jim says it looks like a Rorschach drawing. And I’ve thrown out Plan A and Plan B. By doing this, we’ve opened ourselves up to so many unexpected adventures on this trip. I never could have dreamed that not planning would be way more fun.

3 Responses to “Road Trip Planning; Throw Out the Itinerary and Prepare for Adventure”

  1. Rene, I tend to be the same way with traveling. Plan, plan, plan. I actually think the planning is as much fun as getting to the place. However, now that my husband and I are retired and about to take our first extended trip in our rig, I am getting stuck in overplanning. I am still thinking “vacation” mode and planning as such instead of just getting an idea of the general direction and then letting things just happen. I think that once we get this first RV trip under our belt, I might be able to relax a bit and to be a little bit looser on the itinerary. Hope our Arctic Fox is as reliable as advertised!

  2. Oh I love that book!

    It’s a fine line between being spontaneous and being prepared. I think I’m learning to balance the two, but it’s tricky.

    Nothing wrong with reading up on RV related things though, it’s always good to know the technical aspect of a rig, and what roads really suck for RVs, etc. What I try to be loose with is where we are traveling to.

  3. Rene, I think you’re absolutely right! I tend to be the same way about wanting to plan everything out before we go. I have to learn to lighten up!

    I’m listening to William Least Heat Moon’s Blue Highways on my iPod as I drive my two-hour-round-trip commute to work. His story is great. Talk about just going where the road leads you!

    So, reading your post today confirms it: Be open!

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