Organisation and planning is a contentious subject in the world of travel. To many of the die-hard uber-planners out there who know their itinerary off by heart months before even stepping foot in a destination, this certainly won’t make much sense to you. But to the backpackers and hardened travellers, the people who go wherever the cliched wind may take them, planning and organisation are boring. A sure fire way to tick off all the top tourist spots but a one way ticket to missing that spontaneous trip of a lifetime.
True, too many regimented plans can detract from the fun of travel. It’s such a beautiful feeling to arrive in a new place, fall in love with it, and just decide you’re going to stay for a little bit longer and see what happens. Whether that’s an extra day, an extra week or – like my move to Amsterdam – indefinitely, it gives you freedom to explore and see things that the typical visitor to said place may completely miss through being buried in ‘The Plan’.
However, as I have only recently discovered after five years of waywardly making my way around the world in between studies and work, a plan is… sometimes… a good… thing. *cue shock/horror/gasps/how can this be?!* I’m pretty renowned for being hopeless at structured plans, and through poorly organised and last minute rushes, a lot of stresses have frequently occurred on my travels. I mean, nothing TOO disastrous. But seemingly always teetering right on the edge of utter catastrophe.
And so, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that *deep breath*… Being organised is not overrated. And it’s definitely not something that should be saved for families embarking on a package holiday to Mallorca.
If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may have read a similarly named post… with a subtle difference. To save you the hassle of reading the story once more, I’ll summarise. I was in Italy, heard of the island called Elba, thought it looked awesome, booked a ‘hotel’ and arrived the next day… Only to find it was a campsite (tent not included) and a very long walk up to the campsite in question. A number of things fell into place meaning that my stay wasn’t a complete disaster (namely the wonderfully welcoming nature of the Italians!). In short, my lack of organisational skills lead to what could have been a pretty catastrophic trip.
At the time, I thought it was ridiculous of me. In hindsight, I thought it was a funny story to tell, and a lesson to be learned. But did I learn? Oh. Of course not. Fast forward two years, and you’ll see that I recently went to Berlin, courtesy of the lovely people at GoEuro. My accommodation was already sorted, and my flight was booked. After delays after delays after DELAYS, I finally arrived in Germany’s capital around midnight. For some reason, the trains weren’t running. My phone ceased to work outside of the Netherlands. Aaaand of course, my English phone was dead. It took me 2 hours to take what should have been a 20 minute, simple ride. And why? Because I was so. bloody. unorganised.
Two weeks later, I was in London for the Cosmo Blog Awards. I prebooked E-V-E-R-YTHING. Hotel (including a free night courtesy of the lovely guys at Hostelworld!), transfer to and from Stanstead Airport, return train tickets to Brighton, and I even checked in online days before. Even though I had to literally drag myself to do it, it was worth it. No stress, hassle free, and I probably saved about £100 in total. Everybody’s winning. Except the overpriced, last minute transportation people, and it’s about time they lost at something.
So, has the lesson been learned? There’s always room for spontaneity in any trip. As the cover image of this post details in the words of Tolkien, ‘Not all those who wander are lost.” Getting a bit lost makes things fun, exciting and you undoubtedly end up experiencing some awesome things that you may never have discovered before. But for the real pains, the transfers, the first night hostels, the general method of transportation, the money, the cards and the inevitably stressful finding of your passport and all of that boring stuff? Well, lesson well and truly learned. I’m converted. At last.