While some people like to meticulously plan each and every step of their life years in advance, others travel through life with a more spontaneous, go with the flow attitude towards life. That’s also the case when it comes to travelling!
Certain individuals take a trip already knowing every step, every city, every hotel and even every meal that they’ll be enjoying while on the road, while others simply buy the ticket and take the ride. But which way is best?
In this article, we’ll look at both sides of the coin, and see what are some of the biggest benefits when it comes to planning or not!
Table of Contents
Better Time Management
Most holidaymakers have a set amount of time that they’re able to travel, thus their time is very precious! You can’t afford to waste your valuable vacation trying to figure out a plan or waiting for that bus that you should have booked beforehand!
By pre-planning routes and destinations, you can make sure that your time is spent as efficiently as possible. Pre-booking tickets, accommodations and tours ensure you won’t waste time trying to arrange them AND you’ll have an exact time that can help formulate your itinerary.
Better Money Management
If your travels aren’t limited by time, then it’s definitely limited by money! With each penny you spend, you cut down the amount of time you travel for, it’s just that simple. As such, you have to be very careful and meticulous with how you spend your money. Why do you think backpackers stay in bargain hostels and live off ramen noodles?!
By planning ahead of time, you’ll make sure you get the absolute best deal possible. Whether it’s tickets, accommodation or tours, you have the time and the means to find the cheapest price. If you prefer being spontaneous, then you might find yourself having very little choice and being forced to spend more than you originally budgeted for.
Make Sure You Can See Everything
Before we go travelling, we usually have a good idea of what we would like to see while we’re there! Any trip to Japanobviously includes a visit to Tokyo or a swinging by London has to include a look at good old Buckingham Palace. Thus, most people plan their trips around what they want to go and see!
Without some form of planning, it’s less certain whether you’ll actually get to see what you want to. Attractions might only be open on certain days, or certain hours. Some might have required a booking beforehand, or simply weren’t available when you wanted. All these variables make the spontaneous life very risky. Planning doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll still see it, but sure makes it a safer bet!
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You step off the bus in a brand-new city in the search of a budget hostel but UH OH, bad news, there’s none to be found. You suck it up and head to the nearest hotel but DOUBLE UH OH, everywhere’s booked out. Now you’re stuck in a strange foreign city with a rough stopover at destination fucked.
Transport tickets, accommodation and even some attractions have the potential to be booked out, particularly during peak travel seasons. Being wild and free is all well and good until you don’t have a place to sleep or the ability to get to the next destination! The only way to be 100% guaranteed is by booking them beforehand.
You Can Properly Prepare
If you know you’re heading into snowy mountains, humid rainforests and even the bone dry, boiling desserts all on the same trip, then you can adequately prepare the right clothes and equipment you’ll need for the trip! If you didn’t plan to travel to such a variety of landscapes and situations beforehand, then you’ll either have to go without or fork up more money to buy the right things. Quite the headache for a budget traveller.
And we’re not just talking about clothes! Some countries are much more expensive than others, so you’ll need to bring an adequate amount of money to fund your travels. If not, then your adventure will abruptly be cut short. Oh, and one other thing…
You Can Better Prepare Visa Issues
Easily one of the most frustrating aspects of travel is having to arrange and adhere to the dreaded visas! Thankfully, these days most countries allow some level of travel without a visa, which could be anywhere from 3 days to 3 months! That being said, it’s pretty hit and miss, and a lot of it depends on your passport.
If you suddenly decide to take a detour to an unplanned country, you might find that you can’t get in without having the proper visa. With prior knowledge of where you’re going and what their requirements are, then you can prepare for this scenario months in advance!
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Unless you’re an introverted lone wolf, many choose to travel as part of a group or alongside a travel buddy. With more people comes more needs and opinions to compete with. Fellow travellers will have conflicting ideas of where you should go or what you should do, and it can be difficult trying to find a happy medium while in the moment.
By making a plan in advance, you can iron out all the details before you travel. It ensures that any misunderstanding doesn’t expand into a full-blown argument! More importantly, you can make sure everyone is happy, or at least as happy as they can be, with the plan weeks in advance!
It’s Not Always Necessary
The simple fact is that planning isn’t always necessary! There is absolutely nothing wrong with buying a one-way ticket and figuring it out as you go along. Rather than planning months at a time, you just need to figure out what you’re doing that day!
Of course, this method does limit the budget options you’ll have available and could create problems down the line when it comes to bookings, but then again it easily couldn’t. If a problem comes up, then you just find another way to solve it! Either way, unless you’re travelling during peak holiday seasons, this is rarely a problem anyway!
Can Easily Adjust
Whether you’ve booked a hostel or an airline ticket, you’re now committed to the plans you’ve made, unless you’re willing to waste that money of course! Though reservations give you a lot more security, they also severely limit your freedom!
When you have nothing set in place, then you can change your plans at the drop of a hat! You can just make up an itinerary as you go along! You can do anything, go anywhere, and with anyone you want at any time! That’s why travelling has always been seen as the ultimate sense of freedom, so why limit that?
The bane of many people’s existence is the dreaded deposit! You’ve sunk money into a booking and now you’re financially committed to this plan that you wish you could change. Worse yet, maybe something completely out of your control knocked your schedule back a few days such as a cancelled flight or bad weather. But will you get that money back? Of course not.
No plans, no deposits, simple! You’re not committed to any plans and don’t have to worry about losing a big chunk of money. You simply buy your ticket or pay for your room there and then without having to put down a financial risk!
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As we’ve already discussed, before you travel somewhere you already have a few things in mind that you’d like to see. However, in reality, you don’t know anything about the country until you’ve properly set foot in it! There are a million little secrets and hidden gems that you wouldn’t know about unless you stumbled across them or found out from a local.
By being spontaneous you can chop and change your itinerary anytime something new and exciting comes along. You can ensure that you have time to fit everything in or at least see the best of the best! It allows you more freedom to discover what’s behind the tourist traps.
Plans Always Change
If you think back to last year, last month, or even last week, 9 times out of 10 what you planned went a little differently. Unexpected things come up. Rogue bills, unwelcome shifts at work and global pandemics can throw a spanner in works at any moment, meaning you wasted your valuable time planning something that didn’t even happen.
The same can be said about travelling. Plenty of unexpected things pop up along the way, both pleasant or otherwise! There’s no point fastidiously planning every little step of your journey as it most likely won’t happen that way anyway! There’s nothing wrong with having a rough idea of what you’ll do, but if you think everything will go the way you planned then you’re sorely mistaken.
Unlimited Solutions to Problems
“Attention all passengers, Flight Number such-and-such has been delayed for a further 6 hours, we apologise for any inconvenience”. Now that bus ticket and expensive hotel rooms you booked on the other side have now all gone to waste, oops. And on top of that, what are you going to do now?
This is where the loosey-goosey travellers simply shrug their shoulders and brainstorm a new travel plan that they can create on the fly. Once something goes wrong, you’re free to solve it in whichever way you want, you have no constraints or time limits to hit. Just go with the flow baby.
What’s the Right Answer?
Well, there isn’t one! The real way is finding a happy medium between planning and allowing a certain amount of freedom in between! Some things need to be planned, such as transport and accommodation, simply because they are vitally important to your travels and could be booked out by the time you need them!
Other than that, planning to the smallest detail really is unnecessary! It’s great to have a rough idea and the must-do activities, but you don’t want to limit your freedom and your spontaneity! Just like life, it’s all about finding the right balance.
Thank You for Reading! Check Out These Other Helpful Links!
Thank you so much for reading Which is the Best Way To Travel: Plan or No Plan! Why not also check out these other helpful articles!
A Welsh university drop-out on a mission to travel the world for as little money as possible. My adventures have taken me through over 30 countries across Europe, Asia and Oceania, and the list keeps on growing! From classic backpacking to working and volunteering, I have found all sorts of ways to maintain a life on the road.