To Plan Or Not To Plan? That’s The Question!

images-1So I was speaking to my friend Becky the other day encouraging her to take a look at my website as she was considering a trip to New Orleans. After perusing the things we’d seen and done and taking a look at our itinerary, “Wow!” she exclaimed ,“You’re a real planner. To be honest, I prefer to just land in a city and be totally spontaneous, exploring whatever hits me, is that doable?” I explained to Becky there is no right or wrong approach to travel, but there are some important things to keep in mind while your deciding if your adventure requires an agenda, or none at all.

Who are you going with?

becky and dolphin

Becky likes traveling solo but is always up for making new friends

If you are like me traveling with kids with short attention spans then my advice is to plan and plan well. With minimal downtime no one has the opportunity to get bored. Of course it’s not good to be so rigid that you can’t be spontaneous and check out something that catches your eye or have a quick adventure pulling over the side of the road to check something out, kids love that too (I can’t begin to tell you how many tasty treats we’ve sampled because we saw a cute shop or roadside stand we just HAD to check out). If you are like Becky and are flying solo or with another adult, then being totally spontaneous without any agenda is totally fine and can be a super fun adventure as well, it just all depends on you. I am a planner by nature so even I were going alone, I’d at least have some sort of agenda but some folks like Becky feel overscheduled in their daily lives and like the liberating feeling of having no plans at all.


Riding through the French quarter

Where are you headed and how fast are you going?

When we road trip travel, we are generally in a different city every day. Because we’ve got so much packed in a day we don’t have time to seek out hotels or other stuff on the fly. We’ve got a ton of ground to cover in both miles and activities so without proper planning it’s really hard to move at that pace. If however you are ok with moving at a slower pace, then being spontaneous is a viable option. Just know that you’ll be gambling in terms of finding nice hotel accommodations and good eats-which sometimes can be a fun adventure all it’s own. When we explored the south in trip #10 we spent a day and a half in New Orleans and then moved on. Becky is looking to spend about 3-4 days taking in all the city has to offer. More time means more options and less of a need to plan.

At the end of the day it’s what feels right to you

We’ve all got our likes and dislikes and our own ways of doing things. The nice thing about a vacation is it’s meant to be something enjoyable and the key is to have fun. While going somewhere with no plans whatsoever would give me a ton of stress (heck, I am stressed just imagining the thought of it), it’s a thrilling way to travel for my friend Becky. Do what feels good. Planned or unplanned, the most important thing is to get out there and explore - and as they say in New Orleans "Laissez les bons temps rouler" - Let the good times roll!


  1. Nicole White says:

    I had a laugh at your comment that you are stressed just imagining not planning the trip. I side with you, but you do have good points for both planning methods. I worry that there is something that we’ll need tickets for in advance and that my lack of planning will prevent us from attending something that is sold out. Plus, the planning is a very enjoyable part of the process for our family.