Don’t Plan Too Much

Travel

As a follow up to my last post, Plan Ahead, Avoid the Headache, I wanted to share the opposite problem for travelers to ponder, planning too much.

Flash to January 2010 and I am a nervous 18, almost 19 year old, planning their first trip to Europe. I was working in a small gift shop in Manitou Springs, and while the day was slow I would plan out, step-by-step how my trip was going to go. I mean step-by-step. I had the time I woke up, map directions and times to get to the first spot I wanted to see, approximate times for a lunch break, and what area or grocery store, or park bench I thought I should stop at.

This was a classic case of a bored mind finding mazes to run, and a nervous first time (solo) traveler trying to figure out how to maximize time in other countries. I had no freakin’ clue.

I landed in Germany in April 2010 and within a week everything had gone to hell. I was luckily staying with friends outside of Stuttgart, but the next part of my trip was delayed an entire week as all flights were grounded due to a certain Icelandic Volcano. When I say everything was grounded, I mean this volcanic ash cloud left 10 million stranded, cost airlines 1.7 billion in revenues…etc. etc. Thank you Eyjafjallajokull volcano! 

On a personal level it meant my two months of planned travel was also interrupted and I played a fast game of cutting out places in England and Ireland that I had planned to see. I split London into two chunks. I cut out the Lake District. I spent less time with friends in Diss. Then I met a Scottish guy and changed my plans for matters of the heart (this was also a flop). 

However, the lesson was that all my hours and hours and days of planning meant that I had failed to see that life, especially in traveling, gets messy and disruptive, and REALLY hates strict rules. I learned hard and fast that on long journeys you often just don’t know how your desires may change and that your heart may find a new path. 

I learned this again in 2013, when my funding for my study abroad was late and I was staying with family with no money. That same trip meant I would catch whooping cough and be bedridden for a week instead of going to Istanbul. 

Since then I have become wise to these tricks, or so I pretend, and I try to find a happy medium. A set of “plans” maybe a few tours, maybe some reservations, but ultimately I let things happen and I stay open to opportunity. What I have learned more than anything is that it’s important to enjoy the journey, not just the destination. 

Happy Travels!

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Road Trip Survival U.S.A.

Allergen-free eating on the road, colorado, family, new mexico, Travel, United States, wyoming

Growing up in the west, we take a lot of what the rest of the world would see as “road trips”. This could mean just a shopping excursion in the biggest city for 300 miles (Denver) or traveling state lines to get to family, friends, or just out of your bubble.

Growing up in a rural environment meant that we had to travel to get anything and anywhere. 30 minutes to the grocery store. 60 minutes to go clothes shopping. 120 minutes to go to a concert…. it took a while to get places. Then of course you had to return, usually the same day.

In some respects I feel like a road warrior, always prepared with a book and wet wipes for whatever may come my way. Yet I always cringe a little bit at the prospect of a five hour drive from where I live to my hometown. Thus, there are always a few things I bring along to make sure I can survive without going batty.

  1. Entertainment
    • This depends on the journey and if I am going solo or with family or friends. If I am solo, I bring out the audio books. Especially longer books I have been struggling to get to with my own eyes…..hello Ulysses. If I am going with a buddy I make sure we have a good song playlist.
    • Remember to download files to your phone or device as cell phone service is often unreliable or totally nonexistent in many parts of the American West.
    • If you aren’t the only driver, bring some physical books, movies, magazines, or anything else to help pass the time.
  2. Comfort Food
    • This doesn’t have to be food that’s bad for you, but rather something you enjoy munching on that fills in the gaps between meals. I personally love chips (crisps to you brits).
    • Don’t go heavy with your snacks, make sure it’s not something that will upset your system or leave you bloated and uncomfortable. I find vegetable based treats and minimal grease make the best combination.
  3. Plan You Meals
    • I often pack a car lunch of tasty meals so we don’t have to make extra stops. This is often breakfast or lunch, with the next meal being one we stop for.
    • This is often a sandwich of some sort such as an egg and bacon for breakfast, hummus and veggies for lunch, or peanut butter and jelly. I always plan for something that won’t sour and that will taste good in a few hours.
  4. Leave Extra Time
    • I feel that it’s better to be stupid early than late. Meaning it makes more sense to show up before you planned than to show up late and make a mess. If you can’t commit to a time, don’t make plans and show when you get there. This leaves frustration behind and makes the journey easier.
  5. Plan for Frustration
    • Life happens, especially when you are on the road. Maybe you’ll hit a traffic jam, or an elk jam (this happens) which means you may take longer to get where you are going. This is just a reality of driving through the U.S. of A.
    • Make sure you have an emergency kit in your car, a AAA membership and other things to make your emergencies less tragic.
  6. Plan Your Routing
    • This seems obvious but a lot of people don’t plan their routing ahead of their journey. Yet, when you look into say traveling Raton Pass in New Mexico, you learn that storms can make the journey a nightmare. Make sure you look into where you are headed, especially using local Department of Transportation Websites and other details to ensure a smoother journey.
  7. Bring Comfy Cozies
    • This means something different for everyone. For me, it’s a few things. I bring my down pillow from home (IKEA brand), a hoodie (maybe a little threadbare), and some favorite leggings. This means I have everything needed for cold morning naps, sleeping in questionable hotels, and for comfort during unexpected discomfort.
  8. Have Fun
    • Regardless of the reasons for road tripping, make sure you add some fun. Maybe it’s stopping at a silly museum, or a famous ice cream shop, but make sure you take time to enjoy the journey. Otherwise, why go?

Happy Travels!

 

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