I don’t think I’ve ever felt so ill-prepared for a trip before! See, tomorrow (Tuesday, December 6) I am leaving on a jet plane on the longest flight I’ve taken since my 3-month Adventures in Asia in 2010. This time I’m off to the Middle East for a 6 week jaunt through Israel and Jordan.
In the past, I’ve always advocated traveling without a concrete plan at the same time as I preached the importance of research. But this time around, I’ve largely failed in that realm.
Have I done some reading? Yes.
Is it anything close to what I read prior to going to Asia? No.
Busy, Busy, Busy…
It’s not so much for lack of trying. I’ve hardly spent any time at home in the past few months. In fact, since all this travel mayhem began in mid-October, I’ll only have spent a week and a half at home in NYC before the end of the year. In the weeks since then I’ve been in Charlotte, NC, Rochester, NY, the San Francisco Bay Area, CA, and NYC (twice). Now, a mere 5 days after my latest return, I am off again.
I think part of my I’ll-preparedness has to do with the fact that the countries I’m visiting are small enough to have well established itineraries in them, and despite my desire to escape them, that may not be possible till I’m confronted with options once I arrive. That, and the fact that I don’t get to make my own plans till I’ve been on the road for 10 days…
See, I’m starting out with a trip that is sponsored by Taglit-Birthright Israel. The trip is free if you meet the criteria and is highly structured for the duration of the tour. While you must travel over with the group, you’re welcome to extend your return trip, which I took full advantage of.
Perhaps it’s this lack of pressure, the knowledge that I have 10 more days of en route prep that has kept me from delving into my research. Of course, part of me knows that once on the tour, research probably won’t be my priority.
Or maybe, just maybe, it’s that I’m getting more confident in my travel style. Perhaps I don’t need to know what I’m doing next? My short Vancouver Island road trip this past summer was a lot like that. Freeform.
Differing Travel Styles
I’m reminded of an inspiring French woman I traveled with back at the Longji “Dragon’s Backbone” Rice Terraces near Longshen, China. All she carried with her was a map. She didn’t even read guidebooks, instead opting to operate solely by word of mouth of other travelers and locals. “Everyone has that book,” she said, pointing to my Lonely Planet guide to Southwest China. “That means everyone sees the same thing.”
While I haven’t jumped that far into lack of preparation, I’m inching closer. I didn’t bring a guidebook to Canada and would have loved to have done the same here, but given my feeling of lack of preparation, I am bringing a guidebook with me this time. Maybe it’s a crutch… After all, one lesson I’ve learned is that you have to take your nose out of the guidebook. That doesn’t mean that it’s not a helpful resource but it’s certainly not the be-all, end-all and unless you’re willing to be open to possibilities and go out on a limb a few times, your experience isn’t quite all it could be.
Is my guidebook this time around a “security blanket?” Entirely possible. I’ll have to report back on how I end up using it.
Funny…a year ago I would never have used a phrase like “security blanket” to describe those guidebooks that I swore by… Maybe I am honing a travel style that works for me. You know…
I don’t think I’ve ever felt so ill-prepared for a trip before…but I’m okay with that!
Do you think I’m ill-prepared? How do you prepare for a trip?