If You Want to Explore a City, Ditch the Itinerary

If you’ve been following my blogs lately, chances are you’ve noticed an overlying theme – I keep referencing my recent trip to Asia. Part of the reason is that it is the freshest thing on my mind these days and in part, it is because this trip was so different than the ones I have taken before; mainly because the experience and lessons learned were different from those in the past.

What I learned is that you should never count a place out and you should learn how to experience a city not just visit it.

That is how I ended up traveling to Asia. I went to a place I had never considered going to. This is a continuation of that blog and those lessons learned.

Picking a place to visit is hard enough, but as soon as you make that choice, you find yourself making endless more. What do you want to see? Where do you want to stay? And, most importantly, what will your trip be like? At the end of the day, you have a limited amount of time, so these decisions can be even more important than the first daunting one: where to next?

When you decide where to go, leave yourself open to possibilities and don’t drive yourself crazy with checking everything off of your itinerary. When traveling in Thailand, we had an idea of what we wanted to do but pretty much left the door open to just about anything.

Wat Arun.jpg
Wat Arun Bangkok, Thailand January 2018

Good thing we did. Had we not, we probably would not have veered off our path and wandered into a place that happened to grab our attention. It was there that we met an incredibly friendly man who set up a boat tour for us and had a Tuk Tuk not only drive us to our destination but helped us in purchasing our tickets. We visited one of the most beautiful temples in Thailand that day.

According to Anthony Bourdain, there are many things most of us do when traveling that are wrong. Truth be told, I am guilty of doing more than one. When I began planning for this trip, the first thing I set out to do was figure out how many cities I could visit in 10 days. At one point, we were going to spend about a day and a half in each town before jumping on a plane to the next place. We ended up spending about three days in each city, except for Singapore, and got enough of a feel for each city to makes us wanting more.

This experience allowed me to see the difference between visiting a place for over a week as opposed to 3 days. The amount of time you spend in a single place can really change the way you experience the country. Spending more time in one place allows you to sit back and take in what the city has to offer.  I am realizing that the cities I have come to love the most are the ones where I got to spend a significant amount of time in; and it’s the cities I spent a few days in that I am always yearning to go back to. Those are the cities I want to know better.

I find that I want to see as much of the world as possible every time I leave home. This is probably why I want to get as many passport stamps as possible. It is difficult to stick to one place when you are used to jam-packing as many places and activities into one trip as possible. Thanks to my resent trip, and Anthony Bourdain, I am realizing that my approach to traveling has, subconsciously, been more about quantity than quality. An approach I plan to change on my next adventure.

When traveling to your next place, consider leaving your itinerary open and let the city guide you. I know I will.

Please leave your comments and feedback below. Thanks for reading!

 

Photo Credit: mwangi gatheca on Unsplash

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