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6 Reasons to Travel Without a Plan

by Christine DeSadeleer Jun 25, 2009
Sometimes it’s best to let life take you where it is going to take you.

This is the last post I’m writing before embarking on an adventure to places known and unknown.

Starting next week, I’ll no longer have an apartment, or a couch; my mail will only go to my PO Box and my cat Greysey will certainly be rough-housing with my best friend’s cat, (crazy) Bobby. I will bid Fairfax, CA adieu for at least a couple of months, if not longer.

My planned road trip around the US is hardly a plan at all.

I know I’ll be staying with friends in Seattle first, and I have a house-sitting gig in Santa Cruz until the middle of the month. Then, I simply have hope that my car, which has 166,000 miles on it (but hey, it’s a Honda!) will stay strong as I make my way to wherever it is that I find myself going.

Why am I doing this? Today, I asked myself that question for the first real time. Most of my trips are planned pretty well in advance, and are mostly set in stone. Set minus the mishaps that always happen, which mostly end up amusing if you have a safety net. I don’t have much of a safety net this time, but I realized that may be part of the point.

I’m banking on the universe protecting me.

So here, without further mumbo jumbo, are six reasons to travel without a plan.

1. Challenge fear.

The fear crept up on me big-time tonight. Everything that had been keeping my mind busy – gotta pack this, take that to Goodwill, file papers, fill prescriptions – came tumbling down as I related my mom’s worries to a friend.

Her biggest concern is the car, and the possibility of me being stranded, to which I have said over and over, “Of all times in history to be traveling alone around the US, this has got to be the most safe and carefree possible. We have cell coverage in almost every last square inch of this country, and roadside assistance responds day and night.”

But of course, there is the possibility of my timing belt breaking. Or my clutch giving out. Or a million other things that could happen down the street from my house but seem much more scary when alone and far from home.

I realize the car is simply a central point for my (and my mother’s) fear to land. So fear, bring it on. Come on up and out of me, so I can take my soul’s next step.

2. Believe that if you trust in your path, it will reward you in the ways you need most.

For many years, I wasn’t sure I had a path. Now, I understand that everyone does, whether or not they know what it is (and the reality is none of us know exactly what it is). Sometimes, I get scared that I’m veering off course, that what I’m doing doesn’t make any kind of logical sense.

But then I remember that anything that has made me happy in life hasn’t been logical.

But then I remember that anything that has made me happy in life hasn’t been logical. Writing for money is illogical. Dancing (not the table-top variety) for payment is illogical. These were things I wouldn’t have thought possible to do for a living five years ago, even though they have been a part of me my whole life. It was only once I began to trust in the illogical that things began to unfold.

Same goes for traveling. Being illogical means experiencing things beyond your current capacity of knowing. And we all want to go beyond our current capacity, right?

3. Too much restriction can hinder inspiration.

Trip plans are helpful. They are touchstones, a way to get from a. to b., and they fulfill our little pea-brain’s never-ending shouts for stability. But sometimes, making plans creates this need to well…stick to them. Stick to them no matter what.

And when we stick to them no matter what, we can stifle the very part of ourselves that told us to get a move on in the first place. You can forget your purpose, other than to check off that you saw the Eiffel Tower or the Great Wall of China or a live sex show in Amsterdam.

Yes, those live sex shows can be inspirational, but really not for longer than a few minutes.

4. Too much restriction can hinder the spirit.

Contrary to popular belief, our souls lead us through this life. Believe me. That’s why heartbreak happens, we lose jobs, we fight with loved ones – they are all opportunities to learn lessons and become stronger people.

When we attempt to confine our experiences, or to “be safe,” our soul can take offense. There it was, just trying to be in the flow, and we muck it up with our agenda. Then it decides it’s time to show us who is boss.

As my friend Theresa and I say all the time, don’t mess with the Trickster. You will be sorry. Instead, be open to the good and the bad in both life and traveling, and I promise the bad won’t seem well, as bad.

5. “If you want God to laugh, tell her your plans.”

Yeah, many of us love to work out every last angle of a trip, where we’ll be at a certain time, what we’ll cover each day. Don’t forget the card with all important numbers and passwords hidden in your underwear is case of the big emergency (not sure where in your underwear, though).

Funny thing is, how often do your plans turn out the way you planned? I feel like the older I get, the more my plans decide to run off and have their own little planning party without me. So that by the time I get to the place I thought I was going, there is usually not even a semblance of what I originally thought I wanted.

Luckily, it is almost always so much better. In other words, you can plan, just don’t get attached.

6. Why not?

This one doesn’t seem to need an explanation. Ok, if you really need one: why not travel without a plan just so you can experience life without plans?

What are some other reasons to travel without a plan? Share your thoughts below.

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