Spontaneous travel always looks so exciting – the last minute adventures, the quirky stories, the scenic photos. We’ve reached a point where we’re being told that spontaneous travel is the best way to travel because that’s the only way to truly have unique experiences. There are so many articles and blogs out there about how to travel spontaneously. But what if you like planning and organisation? What if itineraries make you feel at ease? I always plan my holidays. And I’m still able to have lots of wacky adventures and encounters with new people. Organised travelling is not boring or over timetabled. It’s just a more thought out form of travelling where adventure can still follow.
Spontaneous travel seems to work well for people who travel for months on end. But I’m not a full time traveller. I have a 9-5 job that I love so I can only travel during my yearly annual leave allowance. I want to optimise that time off. So if I’m travelling to Greece for 2 weeks, I will definitely research where I want to go, what I want to see, and then lay out a rough plan. For me, having a plan for each trip is an essential backbone. I can deviate from the plan if I want, but there’ll always be a plan to fall back on.
So here are my top 7 reasons for why organised travelling is still a great way to travel for many people:
Perfect for first time travellers
My first travelling experience was back in 2016 when I interrailed around Europe for 2 weeks. For a first time traveller, having a plan is very useful. You won’t have previous learning experiences to fall back on so it’s wise to have a rough itinerary of where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, train times, hostel locations etc. You might end up overpreparing but for your first time exploring the world, there’s really nothing wrong with that. Travelling for the first time can make you feel nervous, especially if solo travelling. So if you put in enough time to organise the trip in advance, you’re less likely to feel like you’re going out into the unknown.
Perfect for solo travellers
As a girl travelling alone, there have been plenty of people to question whether it’s safe for me to do that, while never posing the same question to my male colleagues or friends. We all worry for our safety when travelling alone. Planning a trip in detail can mean ensuring you have somewhere to sleep every night, having a list of emergency contact details, ensuring you have a phone plan that can be used abroad, sharing your route with your family and friends, researching areas to avoid etc. Trip planning can sometimes feel like doing a risk assessment. There’s always something unexpected that could happen, but it feels reassuring to have considered safety abroad as part of your trip planning.
This is a big one. If you’re on a tight budget, then planning ahead just makes sense. Spontaneously deciding to go to Italy in a week’s time vs deciding this 2 months in advance will often result in very different amounts of money being spent. Likewise with booking accommodation. If you’re travelling for a few weeks, the cost of accommodation can really pile up. If you are planning a trip where you move from place to place, it can be reassuring to have all the accommodation booked in advance. You’ll also save money by avoiding last minute bookings.
Ideal for travelling with a large group of people
When you’re travelling with a group of friends, it helps to be organised about where everyone will meet, what time you’ll set off, what activities people want to do and what to bring. I once organised a trip to the Lake District for myself and nine friends. As part of the trip planning, I put together a kit list. Everyone had access to this list but I didn’t think my friends would actually read it. To my surprise, when we arrived at the hostel, three people pulled an extension lead out of their bags! And hardly anyone had brought a swimsuit since I’d accidentally missed that off the list. But hey, the list turned out to be very useful and everyone really appreciated the organisation.
Another thing with group travelling is that people may have different expectations. Some people may prefer to relax on the beach all day whereas others may want to go on daily hikes. It’s good to talk about this beforehand to ensure that there’s something in the holiday for everyone.
Efficient use of time while on holiday
It’s a good idea to have a rough look at what there is to do in the place you’re travelling to. You don’t have to plan what you will be doing every hour of the day (despite enjoying planning, I never go to this length). But just research what there is to do there. So when you’re on holiday, you know what’s available. Yes, you’ll discover new things to do along the way. But it’s still helpful having a couple of activities in your back pocket for if you’re really stuck for things to do. This is particularly helpful if you’re going to multiple destinations during one trip.
Useful for road trips
Say you’re going to France for 2 weeks and you want to stop off at many locations along the way. You’ll want to decide beforehand where you want to spend each night. Especially if you want to save money by booking accommodation in advance. You may also need to check if your driving routes and distances are feasible and whether your proposed route will fit within two weeks. While you’re on the trip, you might spontaneously decide to do a day trip to a nearby village or stop off at a town on your way to a planned destination. And that’s fine. But having a plan for the overall route is still useful because you’ll know where you’re staying each night and what time to set off for your next destination.
Essential backbone for the trip
Overall, the plan is just a guide for your trip. You can drift away from the plan if you discover better things to do while you’re on holiday. You could always change where you’re staying one night if you discover you prefer one location to another. But having a plan for the trip means there’s something to fall back on. You can have spontaneous adventures around the plan. You can speak to new people, discover new parts of the city, experience new activities and more. Planning out your trip and having an itinerary just means that you’re not landing in a new country clueless and that you’ve done your research. Planning a trip is exciting – it allows you to really learn about where you’re travelling to with the aim of getting the most out of your visit, while still leaving room for flexibility.