Did your bus strand you in the middle of nowhere? Have you still no idea where you’ll be tomorrow, a week from now, or next year? Good. This is why you hit the road: to let go of your highly organized and regulated way of life. In the truest sense of the word, you’re going on an adventure. You’re throwing all your expectations out the window, and learning the power of improvisation. It’s not going to be what you thought it would be, and that’s the best part about it. There are no real rules, only decisions and compromises.
Itineraries are cute, but they can ruin your travel. It doesn’t matter if you plan on spending three days in each city, or three weeks. The fact is, if you end up loving a place, stay there longer! If you ending up hating a place, get out fast! Learning to improvise is one of the most important things you can do while traveling. It makes the trip more fun, and gives you leeway to do the things you want to do. Sure, you came to “see everything,” but why leave a place if you’re having a good time? You can always stay in the country for an extra month, or come back some other time. Travel at a pace that feels comfortable for you. Don’t rush through a city, just so you can say you’ve “been all over the country.” Conversely, don’t feel obligated to remain in a city you don’t feel comfortable in.
Everybody has cities they were dying to see, but ended up being disappointed by. It’s ok. Whether it’s Paris, Bangkok, New York, or Cairo, there is nothing wrong with admitting that you didn’t like a city. Every traveler goes through this at some point. Instead of despairing over your long-lost dreams about a place, try finding a new city to fall in love with. I myself was disappointed by most of Cambodia, a country I had long anticipated. However, I ended up being won over by Laos, a place I was skeptical about for a while.
You can never know what you will love until you go there. So get off at a town you’ve never heard of, and explore this great big world!
My name is Yonah Paley. I quit my job in the United States to travel. I also write movies and do photography. As I backpack across the world, I share stories, philosophy, and travel tips.