Travel Issue V — Rigid vs Flexible Itinerary

      I absolutely love to plan. I truly enjoy deciding on a particular trip a year or more in advance and beginning immediately to do the research necessary to plot the route, designate the sights to see, etc. As soon as flights become available, I want to book them, so there are no problems, and I do the same with hotels. Thus, my trips are all extremely rigid, in that we must be in the next place on the next day and so on. Is this really the best way to travel? Suppose that you really love a place and would like to stay longer — this is not an option on my trips.
     So why do I always create trips of this type?  Well, the roots are in my profession. Being a teacher for so many years (37), I was forced to travel only when everyone else seemed to be traveling. The places we would go were always jammed with tourists, hotels were booked solid, flights were always full. Thus, the only way to insure that the trip could be accomplished was to book everything early. There truly was not an option, unless you were traveling to a place where nobody else goes. Obviously, this type of planning became a habit which I have found difficult to break, especially because I enjoy the long-term anticipation of an upcoming journey.
    Now that I am retired, I still have not ventured out without advanced planning, even though I probably could now. I actually used to dream about taking a trip with no fixed agenda and just going from place when the spirit moved me. I suppose that one of the reasons that we don’t just become vagabonds is that Lee does not like to be gone extended periods of time anymore. Two weeks or so seems to be her limit, so that makes serendipity travel less feasible.
    We are beginning to take small trips with a more flexible attitude. For example, our trip back from Florida in February was more leisurely and slightly open-ended. Our trip to West Virginia for Labor Day weekend will be the same. But I still think it would be great to leave for a month or more, with no fixed itinerary and just let our impulses be our guide. I’m thinking that this might be a good way to explore far-eastern Europe, areas such as, Croatia, Transylvania, Slovenia, etc.  If I were to try something like this, I would still have to plan, at least rough out a route and create a list of must-sees, but we wouldn’t have to be on a particular schedule. This area of Europe is still a bit off the beaten track so it might be possible to go from place to place without reservations.
    To do something like this when going to a popular destination, like Italy or England, for instance, you would have to travel in the true off-season, like November or early March, or you might end up having to settle on a flea-bag hotel, or skip a place entirely.
    As of now, this type of trip remains a dream for me, but who knows …?


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