Don’t stick to the plan: It’s more fun
The act of travel – to go; to move; to experience, live, love, adventure, bless – is hindered by the plans we set in place before we even set foot in a new place. Too many times plans are followed instead of enjoying the moment. Listen to your heart, not words on a page telling you to turn left at the next exit. Don’t stick to the plan: Sticking to the plan leaves less chance for serendipity.
Why is planning counter-intuitive?
When hitchhiking, countless times I’ve found myself with an awesome person / group of people, but the anxiety creeps in and I start doubting myself, thinking I should be moving. I start thinking: “The plan was to head west. I have to,” or similar. Before I know it I’m off again, often to my regret. Do we travel to travel, or to live through a lens? I’d argue the former, which is why I do my best to remind myself I’m on the road to live, not worry about where I should be or what I should be doing. With this in mind, preset plans change as soon as I start smiling.
People matter more than places
This ties into the point above. No matter how many mountains I’ve seen, or cities I’ve been to, or parks, monuments, old buildings, Châteaus… it’s always the people that stand out as the fundamental highlight of my travels. Hitchhiking allows you to meet more people than you would usually have a chance to, and it’s wonderful meeting someone for the first time and ten minutes later you’re both hitchhiking down the 101 to San Francisco. The city doesn’t matter; my road dog does.
Enjoy the moment
Without a formulaic plan in place, you can enjoy each moment as it comes. You can, finally – dare I say it – live in the moment. There’s no onus to be anywhere so relish the freedom of doing whatever, whenever. It’s beautiful when someone says, “hey, we’re doing this, wanna come?” and you don’t have to think twice. Without a plan, you can really dig a place and its people. There’s no need to worry that you’ve stayed two weeks longer than expected. It’s one of the great freedoms of the road.
Remember to keep smiling. Without a plan, there’s time to experience as much of a place as you wish. If this doesn’t suit, you’re free to bop onward. Having an itinerary suits some people but it doesn’t suit me. Just remember, you’re on the road. When times are good don’t worry about sticking to the plan. The plan should be to smile; everything else is arbitrary.
For examples of serendipitous discovery on my hitchhiking travels, check out Wonderful hitchhiking moments.