So…. Since I started my European travel in 2012, I have focused all my trips around what I wanted to see each time I traveled. Time was not my friend (with limited vacation time and only one trip a year for the the first few years), so I tried to pack as much in as I could. I want to see the Colosseum so I go to Rome. How many other things can I manage to see while I am there?
I have also been one of those people who “If it’s 10:00, we must be at Santa Croce. If it’s 11:00, we are standing on the Ponte Vecchio,” with a matching spreadsheet. In self defense, I started trip planning much earlier for kids’ choir trips to Europe, where those anathema words “free time” actually meant “shopping”, “managing the kids with no plan”, “tour company didn’t want to pay the bus”, and “trouble”. You can’t afford to leave days open for a slow start or coffee whenever someone feels like it with 20 kids and 20 adults - and if the tour company wanted to leave free time, it just meant more work for me or my conductor or chaperones to fill it safely. And it was always better to do that before arriving in Europe. Which left me with spreadsheets.
So that’s how I transitioned into planning my own travel.
I still operate with an involved spreadsheet. But now it just has an outline for each day based on opening days/times of museums, required reservations, public transit info, etc. or tentative plans based on grouping sights, all flight and lodging reservations, as well as links I may want. I use this to get some idea of how long I might want to spend in a particular city and how long I estimate certain places will take. And if I am traveling with friends, it helps them to have an idea of what the next day could/will hold and when to be ready (none of them want to plan but I only travel with people who are always happy with my plan).
I call this style (however busy or not busy) “traveling to see.”
I plan to travel a LOT in 2022 and beyond. Plenty of that travel is looking like “traveling to see.” And I am excited about it.
But I am beginning to feel I want to do more of what I call “traveling to be.” I haven’t really done much of that yet but I am sure some of you have. Certainly there are things to see in the destination, and you probably go see something most days. But the real call might be just to be there and see what happens.
Or maybe it looks like returning to the same location multiple times to soak up whatever the atmosphere is that makes you love it. Or maybe it is what some of you used to do with traveling with no reservations ahead.
I am currently feeling this urge to “travel to be” as a reluctance to plan for my month in Poland - I have done enough research to decide how long to stay where (with help from here) but strangely I don’t want to make a plan for my days till I get there. Maybe I will only find a town square and sit and drink coffee. Maybe miss some really great museums or cathedrals. Maybe see them but not know as much history as I should have. But I am really excited about going - and the thought of not knowing or planning ahead sounds both wonderful and horrifying at the same time.
So I would be interested to know how you think you travel: to see, to be, or some combination. What does that look like for you? Or maybe I am the only one who thinks there might be a distinction…..
I almost added a telephone emoji in the title. 😂