Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Travel Link-Up: That Time I Learned How To Be A Little More Spontaneous


You know those terribly embarrassing "ice-breaker" questions people like to ask on a) first dates b) a job interview at Gap (yes, this happened to me) and c) some other kind of equally awkward group event that may-or-may-not be related to blogging? The ones that are like, "Describe yourself in three words!"

Well, here are two: risk-averse.

Yep, I'm the biggest scaredy-cat baby ever. I like to have a plan. I like to know my surroundings. Before I travel, I still print stuff. Like, my flight and hotel info kind of stuff.

John disagrees: he thinks that I have an adventurous spirit and that I'm actually really spontaneous. Either I've got him fooled or he's been married to a different woman for the past soon-to-be-four (gulp!) years, because I'm the least spontaneous person I know!

But, I'm working on it, and travelling has been a terrific way to teach me how to be more spontaneous. My life has been enriched by my travels; not just because of the beautiful places I've visited, but because of the spontaneous decisions I've taken along the way: that moped I took on the busy streets of Hanoi (despite looking like a death trap and making me fear for the safety and well-being of my ankles); the two days we left to chance in Sicily where we ended up booking the most amazing agriturismo in the middle of nowhere; the sea turtle reserve we stopped off en route to another destination in Sri Lanka just because it'd always been a dream of mine to hold a baby sea turtle.


Over time, I realized that my dependence on itineraries and plans was nothing but a learned habit that could be unlearned; a crutch that I could slowly ease my grip on. Growing up, family vacations almost always involved plans and itineraries and routines (of course, I recognize that it's much more difficult to travel with children than as a pair!), so that's how I learned to travel. Going off piste in unfamiliar territory made me anxious; it made me panic.

Then, I met John. And although he never pushed me too hard (he could tell when I started to get anxious), he gave me a good nudge in the unplanned direction and I learned to love it. I especially loved it when I realized I could embrace spontaneity without anything going terribly wrong (for the most part!), and that, if I didn't like something, I could always change the situation. My fear was never really about the unknown; it was the fear of being trapped in a situation I couldn't escape.


Now that spontaneity has seeped into the little corners of my life: "Let's get an ice-cream at the corner shop!" "Let's go for a bike ride in the forest after dinner!" "Let's watch the sun set from our bedroom!" And I feel a little bit of pride every time.

What about you? What's your travel style, your M.O. when it comes to making spontaneous decisions? Are you a risk-taker or are you more risk-averse, like me? I'm curious to know!

This month's travel link-up is hosted by Emma, Angie, Jessi, and Nano. Head over to their blogs to read more stories about lessons learned while travelling!
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40 comments

  1. That baby turtle is adorable, I helped to get some into the sea in Tanzania, an amazing experience! It's nice that your partner is so supportive

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    1. I'll never forget my memory of holding them! They were so sweet! And the big turtles are such gentle, sweet creatures as well.

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  2. OMG, that baby turtle is so adorable! I think our stories are very similar. I'm very risk-averse by nature and pretty scared to let it go and see what happens. Although my husband is the opposite, he likes to experiment and go with the flow and he is gradually teaching me to do the same. Have not given up in itineraries just yet, but definitely stopped jam-packing the day with all must-see sights, instead leaving some time to just relax and maybe see something off the beaten track and sponteniously. xoxo, nano | www.travelwithnanob.com

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    1. We sound so similar, Nano! I definitely begin to enjoy travelling more once I did away with the rigid itineraries and plans I had once followed to a T. xoxo

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  3. Spontaneity is certainly good, but there is nothing wrong with making plans, either! I mean, if someone is just spontaneous all the time and didn't know how to make plans, that could end up in disaster as well, methinks. But it seems like you're finding the right balance, and that's what's better.

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    1. For sure, Dee! I think a bit of both (but not getting too bummed out if plans don't pan out in the end) is a good balance to have.

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  4. I'm not spontaneous at all and also very risk averse but travel has really taught me to do things that scare...though I will still always scream the loudest when I see a spider!

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    1. Oh my goodness, I'm the worst with lizards in tropical countries. I know they're harmless, etc. but every time I see one frozen on the wall or outside when I'm eating, I just get goosebumps! Ugh!

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    1. Oh, I KNOW!!! He was paddling away like a little paddler!!! It was ridiculously cute!

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  6. I thrive on schedules and itineraries while we're traveling to our destination. Once we're there, I'm a little more lax. I like having a plan but if something goes wrong or we decide there is something else we want to do, I'm more open to doing that. Having kids has helped me be a lot more flexible because sometimes they get to the end of their rope and we have to make adjustments.

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    1. Great to hear about your experience, Allison! Thanks for sharing! I previously struggled to be flexible but embracing that has felt so liberating.

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  7. THE TURTLE! What a cutie. I'm the same, Jaime, I really like to have my itinerary planned and all organised, but sometimes you just need to let yourself go! Andy's much less organised than me on holidays so it makes for an interesting balance! xx

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    1. I miss Sri Lanka!!! Take me back!

      John and Andy seem to share a similar travel style! It's a great balance to have xx

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  8. I'm a weird mix of spontaneous and super planned. I still print all my flights and hotels too (what if my phone dies?!), but for pretty much everywhere I go, I read a guide book on the way and make notes in it and wing it each day. I'll always book at least one place and/or restaurant for everywhere I go, but otherwise I kind of hope for the best and research whilst I'm there!
    Cx
    Charlie, Distracted

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    1. That sounds like THE perfect balance, charlie - and judging from all your travel photos and posts, it seems like you're always spot on! x

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  9. I like doing a bit of both, ie I love planning for three days to the brim and then keeping another day getting lost and doing a lot of spontaneous things! And you're right... if you don't like something, you can always change the situation. =)

    That turtle is too adorable for my liking!!!

    Honey x The Girl Next Shore

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    1. YES - me too!! I usually keep the last two days free.

      p.s. was very tempted to put the turtle in my pocket when no one was looking ... I have no idea what baby turtles eat though and it would probably die within two seconds of me kidnapping it.

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  10. I'm the person that likes to be with the person that plans everything. I'm more risk-averse and although I won't have made the plan, I want to know what the plan is. Very easy to travel with :P

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    1. Haha! I'm kind of the same. Planning makes me anxious, so my husband does most of the planning.

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  11. I come from a family of planners. So imagine my dismay when I married into a non-planning one and went on a trip with them to rural northern China where there is very little infrastructure not to mention tourist knowledge so I freaked out for a few days, realized it was futile and then just let it wash over me. It was very freeing to stop caring!

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  12. I am SUCH a planner, but I am increasingly trying to schedule in "downtime" to allow for a little spontaneity. And...I still print stuff too. :| Like, what if my phone dies???

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    1. YUP, on the same page as you there! The boarding pass wouldn't show up on my phone as I neared the preliminary gate checks at Bordeaux airport and I kind of freaked out!

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  13. I love the fact that you got a moped in Hanoi! It took me an hour to cross the road overtime because I was so scared. My husband has definitely taught me to be a little more spontaneous also xx

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    1. I was TERRIFIED. I clutched on to the driver for dear life (like, literally clutched onto his stomach) while he cackled at my fear. It was a delightfully dangerous experiment which I'd do again in a heartbeat! xx

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  14. Risk averse - I hear ya, I manage risk for my company for a living... People'e eyes almost popped out when I told them I was going to Israel this year and sailing 600 miles offshore last year... I just call it common sense

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    1. Yup, common sense prevails - good point.

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  15. This had made me think I need to be more spontaneous and take a few more risks but I am afraid I am too much of a planner to ever embrace it properly! :-)

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    1. Haha, I was the same! I think taking tiny steps helped ... and now I'm pretty comfortable not booking accommodation for the last two nights of our vacation, which gives us more flexibility.

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  16. I'm a bit of both although I try to be more spontaneous than risk-averse (can be a struggle at times!) I wouldn't dream of leaving without printing out ALL my documents and relevant emails but I Love, love, love those moments of spontaneity, getting lost, doing something against type.

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    1. Totally agree, Clare! It's nice to decide what to do on a whim, although I'm pretty bad at letting go of plans when, say, weather ruins them, for example. I'll be pretty grumpy even if we find a different solution! Need to work on that, haha!

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  17. I find I enjoy spontaneous moments a lot more, even though they scare the bejesus out of me at the same time!

    Polly xx

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    1. Definitely the same as you, Polly. I think 75% plans vs 25% spontaneity works well for me. :) xx

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  18. I think I actually have more of a problem with FOMO. I'm quite happy to go with the flow and take a last minute change of plan, but only if I'm quite sure I'm not going to be missing out on something better. Which usually comes from extensive research. So, I'm not quite sure what that makes me, but I'm glad you and your husband have travel styles that complement and stretch each other :)

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    1. I get like that too sometimes, Rachel. It's really hard when you only have a limited time to spend in one place! I remember when our spontaneity backfired: we booked a hotel for our last night in Sri Lanka that i HATED. It was designed by Geoffrey Bawa and we only decided on it last minute, but it was so run-down, tacky, and the staff were really rude. I tried to make the best out of the situation, but it was hard not to feel grumpy and upset that I made the "wrong" decision.

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  19. I plan for time to be spontaneous - does that even make sense? Before I used to pack our itineraries so fully there was literall no breathing space.

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    1. YES. It totally does. I think a bit of both is best!

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  20. I'm the same, I used to have to plan everything within an inch of it's life, but yet everyone still thought I was spontaneous. It makes me really question how I came across?! Maybe because I was willing to do whatever, people took that as spontaneous. I also still print everything, including directions to places haha.

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    1. I don't think that printing thing will ever go away for me ... in fact, I'm going to print a hotel reservation RIGHT NOW!

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