The alleyways of Assilah, Morocco.
This week, we’d like to talk about the importance of not having a plan.
Sure, we’ve talked about the virtues of careful planning during any impeding trek in the past, and how it can make or break a trip. What we want to address this week might be better termed as built in flexibility.
A few years after our 2006-2007 backpacking expedition around the world, I came across something amusing while unpacking our gear in our Florida home: an early brainstorming list, made while we were first planning our trip. It was an interesting exercise to compare our plans, with what we actually did. It seemed like we were bent on setting foot on every country on all six continents. In reality, we centered on six main countries in three regions: Ecuador, Peru, Thailand, Cambodia, Jordan and Israel, with some brief stops in Japan, Kuwait and the Sinai.
And even that felt hurried. Of course, we don’t regret it, and we covered lots of ground and checked off some major stops on our life-list. And the pace certainly felt hurried enough, as we moved our base camp nearly every other day. It got to the point, after a time, that just one or two down days on the beach in Sihanoukville, Cambodia just didn’t cut it in the battery recharge department. We were secretly rejoicing when we landed a house sit in Amman, Jordan for a month. A house! To ourselves! With a real bed! And a kitchen!
Our point is, while the planning phase was important, we flexed lots and jumped at opportunities we had no idea existed when we started out. Have a plan, but don’t let it blind you to opportunity. I honestly couldn’t have said that I’d be here in Morocco now just a year ago, and I kind of like the fact that I couldn’t say with any real authority just where we’ll be one year from today. That might frighten some people, but we kind of like not knowing. It’s a bit morbid, I know, but its kinda depressing to stare a 30 year mortgage in the face and think; ‘nice bedroom, sure, but I may die in it.’ I might die on that next third world ferry, sure, but I’ll know about it a whole a lot sooner.
There are times when we know where our next bed is weeks in advance, and then there’s honestly times when we just blow into town, not knowing where we’re going to sleep that night. But whether its Jerusalem during Passover, Sydney during Easter weekend, or Rome during Jubilee, we’ve always found a bed, even when we were told it was impossible… sure, our ‘plan d’ might be to sleep on the beach, but we’ve yet to have to implement it.
How do you stay ready for opportunity? We like to travel light, alert, and with our eyes open. Bring twice as much cash and half as much stuff, and be ready when that brass ring swings our way.
Here’s to not having a plan!