Stepping onto a plane bound for a spot in the world where you’ve never been before means there are expectations. Your expectations of what you imagine the place to be and the reality of what you will find once you get there.
This is true, whether it’s that beach paradise you’ve always been dreaming about since you’ve learned to imagine palm trees and mai tais, that cosmopolitan city where you imagine the air is always hot, the fruits are peddled in boats in the world-famous floating market, and the best shopping malls are blocks apart or that country where they all say the churches are old, the bullfights are wild, and having chorizo de Bilbao along with your morning pancakes—or rice—and coffee is as natural as breathing.
Expectations like these are good. Imagining a place where you’ve never been before, thinking about the things you’ll do when you get there, where you’ll shop, what dish you’ll want to order first from the menu when you arrive in that strange, exciting, beautiful place—all these are good, it means you’re excited to be there. That’s the first step in having fun.
See, things could happen this way: you’re all pumped up to go. You’ve packed up a few weeks’ worth of clothes into your battered duffel bags. “You’re ready”, you tell yourself over and over like a mantra.
You’re ready to have an adventure. So, you’ve downloaded the maps, color-coded the itinerary data and even brought along not just one or two but all five of the guidebooks you own.
You’re ready to go and have an adventure. You’ve set your mind on having one so that’s how it’s going to go.
But see, that’s a major roadblock. It’s a mistake to think you can ever be ready for an adventure. Color coding all the historical data and information of all the places you would like to tour when you finally get around to visiting the little chapels in Florence or graphing the direction of your trip is all well and good mental exercise but to what purpose will this serve? No amount of preparation is going to get you ready for the real thing. Itineraries are changed, schedules adjusted without warning, and occasionally you might team up with fellow-travellers and you end up going in a totally different direction.
The organization is great but there’s an end to what it can offer you. There’s something to be said for flexibility, spontaneity, for lettings things happen, for going with the flow. You may not always end up where you planned to but how much it’ll affect your mood, pizzazz or mojo will be entirely up to you. You can sulk, rant, rave or punch a hole in the wall and ruin your entire travel experience. Or you could take things in stride, dismiss the irritating aspects of travel, of life, as they happen, and enjoy the good times that will be coming your way.