Today's guest post comes from Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate. Kate is a solo female traveler currently exploring Southeast Asia. She is committed to living a life of adventures, and as a result, rarely says no to a dare. But, while she's only a fraction of the way done with her trip, her plans have already changed a lot.
What Happens When Travel Plans Change?
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. I had an itinerary that had taken me months to perfect, taking me through ten Southeast Asian countries over the course of seven months.
And instead of exploring the villages surrounding Pakse in Southern Laos, as my schedule had dictated, I was sunning myself on the pristine beaches of Thailand’s Andaman Coast.
How the hell did that happen?
You could say that I was craving a hot and sunny beach after the chilly mountains of northern Thailand. Or that I didn’t really feel like going to Laos just yet.
Both were true. But also…
I met a guy.
On my first day.
And he suggested we go to the Thai beaches.
Cue my past self rolling her eyes at present-day Kate: “God, you’re predictable.”
It sounds juicy as hell, but believe me, that's an incredibly simplified version of the story.
I met up with Backpacking Matt, a friend of mine who, yes, happened to be a guy. We had such a blast together in Bangkok that, after splitting and traveling solo for a bit, we decided to meet up in Krabi and do some beach-hopping. I was freezing by the campfire in Pai, teeth chattering, and nothing sounded better to me than lounging on the sand and getting tan!
The next few weeks took us to Ao Nang, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Railay. And between the gorgeous beaches, the legendary nightlife, and the cool people we met, those weeks were some of the best of my life.
Without changing my plans, I never would have fought Muay Thai in a bar in Koh Phi Phi, or appeared in a German movie in Ao Nang, or drank with a Mafia don in Koh Lanta. I never would have woken up to a dozen photos of me partying with a tranny on my camera. Most importantly, I never would have met some truly awesome friends.
So what if my plans changed? I was seeing the world and having the time of my life while doing so! Isn’t that the point of traveling in the first place?
But, my story underscores an important point for long-term travelers:
You never know what will happen until you get on the road.
It’s easy to read travel blogs and guidebooks and assure yourself that you’re planning a flawless itinerary. But maybe that flawless itinerary moves too quickly or too slowly for your taste.
So slow down. Or speed up.
Maybe you’ll hate a destination or even a whole region. Or fall in love with one.
So get out of there, if you’re so inclined. Or stay longer.
Maybe, like me, you’ll meet cool fellow travelers and want to spend more time with them.
So do it!
Honestly, is there even a point to keeping your original plans set in stone? Is it about keeping your imaginary goals intact? Forget them. Do what makes you happy.
Whatever the reason, there’s no shame in changing your travel plans. Best of all, it opens you up to the delicious serendipity of living in the moment. And that feeling alone is worth the cost of your trip.
Enjoy that serendipity — there’s nothing else like it. Besides, even after your trip, the whole world will always be there waiting for you.