For many of us, our everyday life is full of crammed calendars and to-do lists, leaving very little to chance. When we travel, it's often to escape the daily routines, the calendar-tyranny and maybe to get a little bit out of our comfort zone.
But many of us take these everyday habits with us when it comes to planning trips. You might not have so many days away - days are scarce and time is precious - so we often feel pressured to use it effectively. There are a lot of sights to see, restaurants to try and hikes to plan. Quickly, the otherwise relaxing trip ends up being as planned and fixed as your everyday life.
Take off without plans
However, there is another option. It is to just take off, without plans and see what happens.
That's exactly what Ronja did when she decided to jump on a bike, with the intention to bike all the way to China. The route was roughly laid out, but not much else was planned. Ronja had an old mountain bike, which she packed with a tent and some clothes. And off she went. She didn't have much experience with biking and had never tried to change a tire, for example. Before she left, she considered a 15 km bike ride to be a long one. Ahead of her was a ride of almost 10,000 km.
Ronja set off with an open mind and the motto "We'll see what happens". She never made it to China (partly because of the corona virus and the war in Ukraine), but it was a journey with many amazing, unplanned experiences. When we spoke to Ronja she told many stories about her adventure and the freedom it gives to be on an unplanned Journey. Read the top three reasons why your next trip should be more unplanned.
1. Learn to live more spontaneously
For many, being without plans can actually be stressful. The uncertainty of not knowing what will happen tomorrow or in the next hour can be a bit nerve-racking. But when we plan, we forget to live in the moment and are constantly thinking about what we have to do in the near and distant future. This can mean that we might overlook what is happening around us right now. We become less spontaneous. We don't stop and talk to a stranger. We overlook the great little café tucked away down the side street.
By traveling unplanned, you practice being more spontaneous. An experience that you might also (partly) be able to transfer to your everyday life once your trip is over?
2. You don’t miss out on anything
You may be familiar with the term "fear of missing out" (FOMO for short), which refers to the stress that can arise if you constantly feel like you're missing out. No matter how much you do or how much you plan, you will always miss out. No one can achieve everything. Not even on a trip.
Traveling without plans, in theory, means that you're not missing anything. As Ronja says that she may have gone past the most beautiful waterfalls without knowing it. On the other hand, she has stopped in villages where she met people she would never have met otherwise.
3. You don't have to achieve anything in particular
Although Ronja dreamed of going all the way to China, the goal didn't end up being the most important thing. She didn't have a deadline for when she would cross the border into China. And traveling without a schedule gave her a lot of freedom.
If she fell in love with a place, she could just choose to stay a little longer. If she met other cyclists, she could just change her route and join her new cycling friends.
That's the freedom that unplanned traveling can give you - especially on those slightly longer trips.
Dreaming of more unplanned travel too?
The unplanned journey is your friend. Make a loose plan for your trip in your head or write it down in your travel diary - and leave it at that. Travel the world, be a little more spontaneous and many great and unexpected experiences awaits you.