I can feel the anxiety from some of you seeping through the computer screen as I type this, but just hear me out. I’ve been asking myself WHAT it is about traveling that makes my heart so happy. Why do I daydream about trips from my past and what is it that makes me yearn so badly to be on the road to the next city? That’s when I realized that my most illustrious experiences, though extremely unique in their own right, have one common thread - I embarked on them without a schedule. And it was pure magic.
Read on and be inspired by what happens when you decide to DITCH your plans.
1. You'll experience what the City wants you to feel
That’s not to say you shouldn’t have a list of spots you want to see and things you want to do, but I’ve always felt it best to let that to-do list happen organically rather than scheduled to the T. I can tell you I have not seen every major attraction in every city I’ve visited, but that doesn’t take away from the feeling and memories I gained, nor does it leave me with regret. My love for a city is not categorized by whether I got to visit that museum, this restaurant, or that one spot where all those tourists take silly photos. Instead, did I vibe with this city? Did I come away with a better understanding of the way they do things here, what the people are like, or the nuances of neighborhoods I stumbled upon? Get into the City and let it guide you; allow yourself to feel what it’s giving out.
2. You'll tap into what YOU want to do
When you wake up with no schedule, you may be surprised at what you find yourself wanting to do. Grab a coffee at that cute cafe you saw yesterday, hitch a ride to the Louvre, go for a run in Central Park, check out that castle while munching on roasted chestnuts for the first time in your life and then stumble on that larger-than-life mural of David and Victoria Beckham on the side of that building. How are they so hot anyway? OR You may not want to do much of anything besides mill around and explore, and that’s just fine (one of my favorite things to do actually)! No matter what you end up filling your day with, you will feel satisfied, stress-free, and rejuvenated because you’ve done what your heart desires.
3. You'll open the door for unforgettable human encounters
When your mind and heart are not on a strict schedule, you cultivate an open energy which attracts similar energy - in the form of some of the happiest people you may encounter. If you allow yourself, you can make lasting friendships, and experience things you wouldn’t have otherwise just by being around these people. You may also renew your faith in the human race and realize we are not so different after all.
4. You'll learn things about yourself you never knew
When you immerse yourself in a new city, you realize really quickly the things that you’re not used to. Rather than freaking out, embrace that adrenaline rush and work with it. Becoming familiar with unfamiliar situations will bring out skills and qualities in yourself that you didn’t know you had. It could be something obvious like your aptitude for navigation or the fact that you actually know more Spanish than you previously thought after getting lost in Costa Rica. You could find that you really do like jazz after stumbling upon the quartet in the alleyways of Milan, or that you haven’t watched the latest episode of the Walking Dead, and you don’t really miss it! Your perspective is bound to change when you let the city guide you and accept the challenges it presents.
While my truths are obviously not the same for everybody, I want to challenge those who feel the slightest bit uncomfortable with the words I’ve written: Take just a little piece of my experiences with you on your next journey. Ditch your plans and see where it takes you. I’d love to hear what adventures transpire!