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We have been wrestling a little with our intro to the nomadic lifestyle. It’s not an easy transition and the temptation is to start guns blazing especially when you’ve been dreaming of it for the best part of a year. We weren’t comfortable in our nomad skin yet but I think we’re back on the right track. We’ve ripped our plans apart and we’re starting again from scratch with a new “un-plan”.


The Old Plan

I had a grand plan for our first year of nomadic travel. Being stuck in Christchurch so long gave me ample time to formulate and fantasise about where we should go, what we should do and routes that might take us around the world. I think I went through about four different versions of “The Plan” but ultimately we had decided to spend six months in Australia leaving in December and taking a two month jaunt through thus unexplored parts of Asia (The Philippines, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau) and then fly to Canada for the ski season. Australia would give us time to finish up some work projects, travel around and see family & friends. Asia would satisfy my need for noodles and send us to a few countries neither of had been to. Canada would give Lee his much needed dose of snowboarding. We were committed to that plan. We were so committed we’d bought a snowboard bag with us and all our winter gear.


Trashing the Plan

But, after a couple of months in Australia, we were restless. I was itching to get going. I wanted travel and Australia just felt too similar to New Zealand. Not nearly exotic enough. Australia was also proving too expensive. We made the decision to get out and go. We binned the plan, sent the snowboards back to New Zealand and started looking for cheap flights to Asia.


The New “Un-Plan”

The new plan is more of an un-plan. We’re taking things one step at a time. We made our way to Thailand via Singapore and then we’ll decide what happens from there. We come prepared though, with double entry 60-day visas to Thailand. So we can stay for some time… if we choose. That’s the key. We need to decide as we go. That’s it. The new plan is no plan…. but with a bit of good “planning” to back it up. I *think* we’re savvy enough travellers to wing it without getting stuck by visa constraints or route problems.

We’re in Asia. We’ll travel around Asia for a bit but I’m not sure where we’ll go or when that will be. It sounds flakey but it feels right. And sometimes travel is just about going with your gut. Unplanning at it’s finest.


Why Planning Just Isn’t Working for Us Anymore

I’ve discovered that my personality type just isn’t suited to having a plan. I’m much more comfortable in “go with the flow” situations. Rigidity doesn’t rule me. Flexibility is what I crave. The nomadic life will suit this but I have to let go of the vacation mind-set. Planning out a trip when it’s two months and under works. I think that’s actually a good thing. Two months isn’t a long time to commit to a plan and stick to it. But when you’re living on the road or on an extended RTW trip it feels much better not to be locked into certain plans. Our feelings about what we were doing changed around the two month point but luckily we weren’t locked into any expensive flights or accommodations and we could simply change our minds.


What do you think about our “un-plan”? Would you be able to travel that way? Are you a planner? Or do you prefer to go with the flow?

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Showing 18 comments
  • Amanda Kendle

    I think an “un-plan” is 100% the best way to go! Good on you. A vague plan and list of desires is great but you never really know until you get somewhere whether you want to stay a short or a long time.

    Totally get what you’re saying about Australia being too similar to NZ, I just blogged a couple of weeks ago about Germany being too similar to Australia. Sometimes you just need a dose of exotic (and then sometimes you need a dose of familiar). That’s why un-plan works! Enjoy xx

  • Madeline @ The Places We Go

    I’m a planner and love the planning process but I like to ‘plan’ open sections too and I am always prepared to throw out the plan! Best of both worlds.

  • Simone

    Complete planner over here! I am trying to not be, but there is just so much to see and without planning I fear we will miss something!

  • Krista Beauvais

    I love this and I hope you’ll get in touch as I’d love to share your story about living the nomadic life with a family!

    Hope the new ‘unplan’ works for you!


  • TammyOnTheMove

    Good on you. I am so bad at being spontaneous when it comes to traveling. I have to organize everything in advance. Hey, I am German it is in my blood. 😉 But seriously, it sometimes makes traveling really exhausting, because I try to cram in too many things. I am slowly but surely learning that being spontaneous can also be fun and will try do a lot more un-planning for future travels.

  • Cat of Sunshine and Siestas

    That’s part of the fun, isn’t it? I think your creative juices will get flowing in Asia, anyway – enjoy!

  • Shari

    I love the freedom of an un-plan. Perfect! Enjoy xx

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)

    We made it through exactly 1 month following our original itinerary down to a T before giving up on it! Like you, we found that traveling long-term at the rate and pace with which we would travel on a short 2-week holiday was just way too exhausting and we just couldn’t keep that up. Instead, we figured we should take this opportunity to really immerse ourselves in the places we were visiting in a way that you wouldn’t really be able to on a short break from a job. Because we hadn’t purchased any tickets beyond our first two flights (into and out of Japan), it was really easy for us to just slow down and head wherever our hearts (or guts!) were telling us. That’s why when we HATED China after 1 month, instead of sticking it out for more of the same, we just hightailed it to the Philippines and spent 2 months there instead. It’s SO nice living your life in a way where you feel like you have the freedom to actually do as you wish rather than following some out-dated plans you set down ages ago that are no longer relevant!

  • Vagabondette Mandy

    The last time I planned a trip, I booked all my flights in advance and had it all organized. I didn’t take a single one of my pre-booked flights and added on a couple unplanned countries and skipped a couple planned ones. I no longer plan. That’s not to mean I don’t have an idea of where I want to go, but I am always fluid in my timing and change my goals as I have realizations. For example, I am pretty much booked from now until april with house sitting and helpx agreements. After that my original idea was to head back to Western Europe. Now I have decided to head east with the ultimate destination being Thailand with a stop in Nepal along the way. It is much better given my long-term goals. I hate running into people with every moment of their trip planned. It leaves no room for spontaneity and I think actually can cause you to miss out on a lot.

  • wanderingeducators

    I agree – if something’s not making you happy, move on! Looking forward to following your unplanned adventures. 🙂

  • Mary @ Green Global Travel

    I think flexibility is the key to a happy life. I’m a planner, but I’m also flexible. Maybe it’s more accurate to say I appreciate guidelines. It’s your life and I’m glad that you feel comfortable getting rid of your plan so that you can be true to yourself.

  • B

    For me, it’s the un-plan, but it is a highly-orchestrated un-plan. A planned unplan. If you see what I mean.

    I used to do the actual unplan, and this has its charms, but with kids along I need to be so much more prepared. So these days I don’t necessarily know where I’ll be at 10am on Sunday (would drive me CRAZY) but I know eighteen different Sunday 10am options from which we can choose at, say, 9:45.

    It sounds like your unplan is a little like mine.

  • The Barefoot Nomad

    Good for you! We love to travel without a set itinerary (though with a rough “backup” plan in place). I’m most at peace when there are possibilities ahead, instead of plans.

  • Terry at Overnight New York

    The un-plan sounds like the ultimate game plan for long-range travel. It’s nice when you discover what works.

  • Lillie - @WorldLillie

    Good plan! 🙂 I stupidly purchased all 12 flights of my around the world trip before I left and ended up changing EVERY SINGLE ONE! So it goes. 🙂

  • Marina K. Villatoro

    I’m a total planner. It’s actually my thing, I love planning. Especially when it comes to traveling. I try to plan in other life things they always fall thru. But with traveling, unless we are sick, I like to stick to the plan. But I’ve learned to really really moderate things.

    Spontaneous travel with kids isn’t like it used to be when I traveled on my own, which was all by the seat of my pants type of travel.

  • Larissa

    I totally feel your pain, Bethaney, and applaud your “un-plan”. When started planning our RTW I thought I would have a whole year mapped out. But I got the first 2 months booked and then. . . . realized it was no longer any fun. Although I cannot be totally spontaneous (I like to know where I’ll be sleeping that night, and preferably the next several nights), we learned to “go with the flow”. This enabled us to visit places we learned about from other travelers as we went along, as well as shorten stays in places that we simply didn’t like that much.

    We kept a list of “must do” sights, (for us these included Angkor Wat, Petra, and Paris, among others), which helped us with a sort of “skeleton” itinerary. But we figured we’d get to them when we were in that part of the world, and the rest of the plans just fell into place.

    The most important thing is that you are happy with your plan–or “un-plan” in this case. After all, it’s YOUR trip, and the only obligations you have are to yourselves!

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