Less Planning, More Feeling – An Obsessive Travel Planner’s New Mantra

Less planning, more feeling. 

That mantra has been my experimental M.O. for our past few travels. This is in direct opposition to most of the trips I’ve taken in my adult life. I love the research and uncovering process through online perusal and, in years past, via AAA Triptiks and Frommer’s guidebooks. I love this part so much that I’ve often thought that I should research OTHER people’s trips and just stay home. Because in truth, when you learn and plan something so thoroughly and so specifically, there is little left to the imagination. Our internet is so complete and vivid that it’s nearly like living it and thus actually traveling there is sort of dulled or even, dare I say it, unnecessary. Case in point – our trek to Italy in 2010 when the whole family repeatedly gaped in awe at the amazing sites and I would think, “Yep, that’s exactly what they said it would look like…or taste like…or feel like.”

It was indeed wonderful to experience the trip through others’ eyes, particularly the kids’ vision. At the same time though, I longed for that shared sense of wonder and excitement.

And so I changed. I decided I no longer needed to see it all and do THE best of everything, but instead sought the experiences that were meant for me in the moment, to FEEL my way through a new place. I realized that this shift in perspective was a matter of trust. Trusting that I’d get what I came for and trusting that what I didn’t see or do was something I didn’t need. One of my all-time favorite sentiments is:

The universe gives us what we need. If we don’t get it, we don’t need it (even if we asked for it.)

That belief comes in handy when that must-see museum is closed, the top-rated restaurant doesn’t have a table, or you return home to have someone ask you if you saw or did the most awesome part about ___________ and it’s something you never heard of or considered. Repeat after me:

If I didn’t see it or do it, I didn’t need to see or do it. 

And so onward! My next idea is to have Joel (or someone else who wants to travel with me) pick a destination and off we go without a map or a guidebook or any knowledge of where it is until I see the printed boarding pass. A few years ago that thought would have made me break out in hives and have tachycardia ensue. No longer!

P.S. Can someone please tell Joel about this new plan of mine? If I do it, it sort of takes the whole spontaneous, non-planning piece out of it, know what I mean?


4 Comments on “Less Planning, More Feeling – An Obsessive Travel Planner’s New Mantra

  1. Kendra and I are sitting in the phoenix airport with no idea when we will make it to Chicago and no real worry. Kendra is a seasoned traveler and often goes “standby”. We have talked about our fortunate misfortunes ie. Ending up in Philadelphia on her way to Copenhagen with a gaggle of fun loving Russians. Dan and I had a fun experience with a cancelled flight to Copenhagen where we ended up with the most incredible flight and new friends. I totally get what you are saying Ellen. Let’s see where life takes us:)


    • Great comment, Julie! Have a wonderful trip, wherever you end up!! Xo


  2. Pingback: Feeling Our Way Through Portland | Ellen Sauer

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Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

Master Teacher, Midwife to the Birth of the Wild Soul

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