I have always had a very serious interest in and love of travel. I sit and read WanderingEarl like it’s my job, but I guess I have never been one of those people who is brave enough to drop everything and just go. I’m way too much of a planner for that nonsense. While this has absolutely limited me from seeing the parts of the world that I plan to conquer eventually, I was ecstatic when I was able to squeeze in a last minute trip to northern Michigan.
Yes calling those days off work and not packing the computer gave me a minor hot flash, but I knew this trip was worth it. Between 3 jobs and being a student you take what you can get. It was no excursion to the summit of Machu Picchu, but it sure as hell beat the dog poop covered sidewalks and garbage day air/metro bus exhaust air of the urban city where I live.
We were going to Traverse city Michigan and by we I mean one of the two dudes (read more here) and myself. What gives this family friendly destination vacation a little edge is the fact that we had absolutely no plans but the general expectation to go exploring to the best of our time there. My expectation was to at least replicate one of the thousands of advertisements to Traverse City that depicted happy kayakers in crystal clear lake water. Again…no zip lining through the amazon, but still some serious out doors-ness that I was looking for.
We managed to have the best time by taking the plan as you go approach. Hiking dunes, trying amazing food, and some serious kayak time left me feeling like I had packed a week of activities into a 3 day time span. Every travel adventure I have taken has been moderately planned or is that one trip you take and never change anything about i.e. traditional family beach volleyball tournament…”same teams as last year!!”
So here is why you should try traveling without a destination
No shame One of the most challenging parts of doing a trip with anyone especially groups is constantly living up to the feeling of “must follow the jam packed agenda” or else someone will be unhappy or feel that they were jipped out of the experience they signed up for. While exploring without an agenda I had no shame of suggesting an ice cream stop due to the fact that there were no plans to throw off with this (extremely edgy I know) spur of the moment decision.
Decide on the fly How many days of your life have you spent planning out your time down to the hour? My planner says….yep…pretty much every single day. I can’t even deny that I have been guilty of planning out when I have time to wash my dishes. This lack of plannerized time was an amazing opportunity to embrace whatever came next. Shockingly enough the world didn’t self implode when I chose to leave my planner at home.
No big deal So you show up and the place is closed. Or that day long hike you had planned turned out to be a three mile trail around a pond. Or you got stranded in a sinking canoe and were forced to swim the rest of your trip (that really happened once). When there is no agenda things not working out really becomes an experience rather than a disappointment. There is something exciting about the possibility that anything could come next.
Do what you want for the first time ever on any trip I have been on, I felt no guilt about giving into my extremely guilty pleasure of mulling around whichever bookstore I can find in the nearest vicinity. Oh you think bookstores are lame huh? Please feel free to come up with another suggestion that provides you with any type of entertainment you could ever hope for in the palm of your hand. You have total freedom to decide how you want the day to go. I had no idea how scheduled out my days have been by events that are out of my control. It almost felt wrong to have the power to decide the next move to make.
No yearly ‘stand by the same tree to show off how you’ve grown’ picture self explanatory. Destination-less trips are all about the candids and overlook pull offs. The pictures are as unique as how you will be spending your time. Spare me the annual ‘pinch your sibling with a crab leg’ picture the first time that happened was more than enough for everyone’s eyes.
No expectations=no complaining I was a little nervous that the lack of planning would leave me stressed out about well…the lack of planning. Going into the situation with no expectations made everything that happened a pleasant surprise and an experience that was uniquely new. It is never a bad idea to try and surprise yourself from time to time. No one wants things to get too predictable right?