TPOL’s Best Travel Advice: Stick to the Plan!

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Stick to the Plan is part of the ANA, Take Me ‘Round the World Trip Report.


I don’t do research before I travel. Usually, it’s “best party [Insert City name].” If Google confirms there’s something to do, it’s time to start looking for flights. I am meticulous when it comes to flights because I enjoy piecing together complex itineraries (see Booked! ANA RTW: 22,000 Miles in Glorious Business). I am not diligent when it comes to booking hotels which can be problematic (see Travel Planning: Check Prices Or Just Go?).

In Albania, not having a hotel led me to carelessly change the plan and go to terrible Corfu (see Make Corfu Greek Again! How Tourism Ruined an Island). In Sardinia, not having a hotel led me to book a flight out of here a day earlier than expected. Though it was only $80, I instantly regretted doing so and ended up staying the planned four nights. On my Tahiti Trip, changing the flight led me to neglect China’s Visa Transit rule which lead to a constructive deportation to Hong Kong for the day. Disappointed with my first day in Marrakech, I wasted an afternoon trying to change my flight to get out of there instead of challenging myself to explore (see How I Almost Left Marrakech After One Night). On another trip, I left Cartagena before New Year’s to go to Bocas del Toro, only to change again after arriving to a rainy forecast. New Year’s was spent in unremarkable Panama City, Panama.

There’s a reason why itineraries take a long time to put together. Even if they are just for flights, there is a high level of planning. Visas are taken into consideration. Exhaustion is accounted for. Adequate time for seeing a new place is calculated.

Spontaneous changes in the midst of a trip are seldom a good idea because inevitably something is overlooked. One of the few times that a change went well was when I left the sex trafficking city of Sihanoukville for the debauchery of Bangkok. Another was when I left Phi Phi for my second full moon party in Koh Phangan. These exceptions were still a drain on my time and an unnecessary pause to my fun. It’s also far from pleasant to Skype call airlines and have the call drop and have to do it again.

TPOL’s Travel Philosophy is to stay in a city for 3 to 4 days. Accordingly, there’s no reason to change the plan. Worst case, I’m stuck in Sardinia looking at beautiful yachts for an extra day, or I’m stuck in Marrakech eating goat brain one more time (see Medina, Marrakech: The Definitive Guide To Lamb Brain, Tongue, Eyeballs & More Food). That’s far better than sitting in Chinese immigration on my birthday instead of being at the M1NT Shanghai (see TPOL’s Guide to A Night in Shanghai) .

In short, stick to the plan. Your travel mental health depends on it.

Hotel or no hotel, there are worse things than staying in Sardinia for 4 nights.

1 COMMENT

  1. It seems a little contradictory to both plan intensively and not plan at all, but it obviously works for you.

    Maybe because we stayed at Otres Beach and didn’t visit the city too many times, my wife and I saw a lot less evidence of sex trafficking in Sihanoukville than we did in Bangkok.

    Also, to burnish your inspirer credentials, I’m visiting Kota Kinabalu early next year, partially because of your writings. Thanks!

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