California Part I: Planning to Not Plan

If you’ve read our introduction, you will know that this is our trip with no plans. This is a different type of trip than what we’ve recently been used to. We literally have no plans – we have a plane ticket flying into San Francisco, a plane ticket flying out of Los Angeles, and a hostel in SF booked for the first 2 nights (and ok, one cottage along the coast, just south of Big Sur, booked for one night, because Big Sur is popular and I simply must stay in a quaint cottage over looking the Pacific ocean on this trip). Other than that though, the road, and our hearts, are our guide. I used to travel like this. I backpacked from Amsterdam through Belgium, France, Spain, Italy and Greece with nothing but a departing ticket out of Amsterdam in 4 weeks time and a 6-country hopper pass on the Euro-rail. I booked a one-way ticket to Thailand and after 7 weeks of volunteering in rural Trang, hit the road with simply a backpack and a Lonely Planet travel guide. But somewhere along the way, as I got older, travel, as with life, became more structured. We had only a limited amount of time to see as much as we possibly could, and so we crammed every tiny detail into a very strict itinerary of hotel bookings, dinner reservations, tour tickets and transportation restrictions. After a few amazing, but I’ll be honest, somewhat stressful trips, we decided that we are not the ‘follow an exact plan’ kind of travelers. You can’t possibly know what will strike you until you are in a place. You won’t know how it will make you feel and what fellow travelers and locals will recommend you do. Sure, if you’re going to Rome, you’re going to want to see the Colosseum and the Sistine Chapel. But you’re not going to know about the amazing hole-in-the-wall restaurant with the best lasagna you’ve ever tasted down a back alley a few blocks from the Trevi fountain until someone recommends it. Or that, despite all of the planning, some of the most enjoyable moments of your trip were spent meandering through the tiny city streets with a Peroni beer in hand, or lounging along the river, deep in conversation. I knew this once, but I lost touch with it, swept into an everyday lifestyle of routines and plans. But we have to remember, every once in a while, to stop, slow down, breath, explore, leave the map at home – and that sometimes, no plans are the best plans.

So, with that in mind, California here we come – first stop, San Francisco!


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