The Single Best Piece of Travel (and life) Advice I've Ever Received
"No plan is the best plan"
It was May of 2015 and I had just embarked on my post-college-solo-trip-around-the-world. I was excited, elated, and happy, yes, but I was also scared out of my mind. I had no idea what my future looked like, and this is a riveting thought.
The first stop on my solo journey was Perissa Beach, Santorini, Greece where I met a man who unknowingly changed my life with one sentence.
“I’ve been traveling for over thirty years and I have never pre-booked accommodation.”
This made absolutely no sense to me at the time. It was said by a man named Dave, who owned the restaurant across the street from the hostel where I was staying. Dave had invited me to stay in Santorini for some upcoming events and opportunities, but I lamented that I already had my ferry and accommodation booked to the island of Paros so I couldn’t stay around. He then drilled it into my head that this pre-booking and planning was a rookie traveler mistake, but the thought of not knowing where I would lay my head the next night made me want to book the next flight home to mommy and daddy - it was terrifying!
Fast forward less than two years later and I can finally understand what his bold statement means. I slowly put his travel advice into practice and now my travel mantra is, “no plan is the best plan” because I know, from experience, that having no plan truly is the best plan.
This is the case for travel but also for life. What I’ve realized is having a plan limits you. Take for example this time I was traveling in Labuan Bajo, Flores, Indonesia and I had no idea what my next move was going to be. With my blank-slate future ahead of me, I was presented with the opportunity of a lifetime - travel around the Komodo archipelago on a 53 meter Phinsi yacht for a week, for free. Ok! I was able to take this opportunity for two reasons...
First, all of the other people that were asked prior to me couldn’t go because they had a flight out of Bali in three days, already booked a weeks worth of accomodation on Lombok, or had a ferry reservation to the Gili Islands.
Secondly, I had no where to be, besides on the vessel of my dreams.
Once I realized that there is nothing to fear in the unknown, I wasn’t so consumed with figuring out my future and in turn, opened myself up to countless opportunities that life presented to me.
I also realized that even when I do take precious moments of this beautiful life to attempt to plot out my future, stress about when the next paycheck is coming in, or how I will figure out a problem I can forsee arising in 3 months from now, usually none of it even actualizes. I realize later (hindsight is always 20/20 right?) that I royally wasted my most precious resource, time, worrying and planning about things that never even happen.
This guy said it perfectly,
"I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened." - Mark Twain
The present is a present, and I am happy I have the experience, confidence, and courage to now truly embrace it. "No plan is the best plan” isn’t about being a young, irresponsible traveler - it’s about taking control of the moment, instead of wasting time attempting to control the future.