Guest Post: What Happens When Travel Plans Change?

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Today's guest post comes from Kate McCulley of Adventurous Kate. Kate is a solo female traveler currently exploring Southeast Asia.  She is committed to living a life of adventures, and as a result, rarely says no to a dare. But, while she's only a fraction of the way done with her trip, her plans have already changed a lot.

What Happens When Travel Plans Change?

Koh Lanta National Park, Thailand

It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. I had an itinerary that had taken me months to perfect, taking me through ten Southeast Asian countries over the course of seven months.

And instead of exploring the villages surrounding Pakse in Southern Laos, as my schedule had dictated, I was sunning myself on the pristine beaches of Thailand’s Andaman Coast.

How the hell did that happen?

You could say that I was craving a hot and sunny beach after the chilly mountains of northern Thailand. Or that I didn’t really feel like going to Laos just yet.

Both were true. But also…

I met a guy.

On my first day.

And he suggested we go to the Thai beaches.

Cue my past self rolling her eyes at present-day Kate: “God, you’re predictable.”

It sounds juicy as hell, but believe me, that's an incredibly simplified version of the story.

I met up with Backpacking Matt, a friend of mine who, yes, happened to be a guy. We had such a blast together in Bangkok that, after splitting and traveling solo for a bit, we decided to meet up in Krabi and do some beach-hopping. I was freezing by the campfire in Pai, teeth chattering, and nothing sounded better to me than lounging on the sand and getting tan!

The next few weeks took us to Ao Nang, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Lanta and Railay. And between the gorgeous beaches, the legendary nightlife, and the cool people we met, those weeks were some of the best of my life.

Without changing my plans, I never would have fought Muay Thai in a bar in Koh Phi Phi, or appeared in a German movie in Ao Nang, or drank with a Mafia don in Koh Lanta. I never would have woken up to a dozen photos of me partying with a tranny on my camera. Most importantly, I never would have met some truly awesome friends.

So what if my plans changed? I was seeing the world and having the time of my life while doing so! Isn’t that the point of traveling in the first place?

But, my story underscores an important point for long-term travelers:

You never know what will happen until you get on the road.

It’s easy to read travel blogs and guidebooks and assure yourself that you’re planning a flawless itinerary. But maybe that flawless itinerary moves too quickly or too slowly for your taste.

So slow down.  Or speed up.

Maybe you’ll hate a destination or even a whole region. Or fall in love with one.

So get out of there, if you’re so inclined. Or stay longer.

Maybe, like me, you’ll meet cool fellow travelers and want to spend more time with them.

So do it!

Honestly, is there even a point to keeping your original plans set in stone? Is it about keeping your imaginary goals intact? Forget them. Do what makes you happy.

Whatever the reason, there’s no shame in changing your travel plans. Best of all, it opens you up to the delicious serendipity of living in the moment. And that feeling alone is worth the cost of your trip.

Enjoy that serendipity — there’s nothing else like it. Besides, even after your trip, the whole world will always be there waiting for you.

Visit Kate's site: Adventurous Kate
Follow Kate on Twitter: @adventurouskate
“Like” Kate on Facebook: Adventurous Kate

"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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24 Comments on “Guest Post: What Happens When Travel Plans Change?

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  1. […] It was bad enough that internet access was $3 per hour, the same as my bungalow’s nightly rate!  But it got worse — there was no access to Gmail.  Or Facebook.  Or Twitter.  Or Hootsuite.  Or  (Strangely, the only site I could pull up was A Dangerous Business, for whom I had recently guest posted!) […]

    Great, great call. If the moment is good and the people are cool, roll with it. No point in fixing something that ain’t broke.

    On long trips, no plan is a good plan.

    After reading this, I have two thoughts. First, I couldn’t agree with you more, you have to follow your heart and not your predetermined schedule and many times these detours in the road end up being the highlights of trips. Secondly, I am already looking forward to being the guy who wreaks havoc on some wonderful young lady’s itinerary in 2012.

      Hahaha, I love that you’re already hoping to be “that guy” two years from now. Now, THAT, my friend, is some goal-setting!

      Scott, I can only hope you are that guy to a girl! Quite a lofty goal. 🙂

    The best part of traveling long-term is not having to stick to an itinerary. Just go with it, its so liberating.

    you have described long term travelling so well. travelling is all about planning and breaking your plans to make the most of your travels

    I love this, Kate. I never have done a RTW trip, but traveling internationally nearly seven months out of each year, I definitely know how these things happen! Also, when I did my very first ever three-month backpacking trip at 19, the same thing happened. By day two, I had ditched the carefully formulated plan that took me months to perfect and wound up going in the complete opposite direction as my itinerary dictated! (And it, too, was due to meeting a guy (albeit a platonic friend, but still a dude).)

      Who says my friend wasn’t platonic, too? 😉

      I’m sure your trip was even more fabulous as a result! 🙂

    Seriously…I can’t believe that you are literally the ONLY site I can access. I can’t even get news sites. Just wanted to use this comment to apologize for not sending you tons of social media traffic, but I will as soon as I get internet again. I’m going to buy a ticket to Phnom Penh tomorrow. I’ll be there by tomorrow night — hopefully in a place with free WiFi!!

      No worries, Kate! But I can imagine how frustrating it must be to have no Internet access.

      Though, clearly the Internet gods are telling you that you should spend the night reading everything I have ever written. 😉 Haha.

    Thank you all for the comments! And I agree — the best parts of trips are often the unexpected parts. Be flexible and enjoy the serendipity!

    Also, Amanda, I’m still on Don Det and I can’t access Gmail, Facebook, Twitter or Hootsuite — but your site loads just fine! 🙂

      Lots of people seem to be able to relate to your post, Kate!

      And weird that you can’t access other sites…

    Learning to be flexible with my plans is a big lesson for me this year as well- funny how guys can make us do that huh? In the end the adventures you have are so much more important than any itinerary though!

      I’m so glad that my plans have changed to party with you and Mike on New Year’s Eve and at the Full Moon Party! It’s going to be amazing!! BUCKETS!!!!!

    I absolutely agree. There’s nothing wrong with changing plans, especially when you know/feel it’ll make you happy. I had an itinerary planned for my upcoming trip to Europe and I was deadset visiting Switzerland because for some reason I thought I must visit it, I kept trying to decide where I wanted to go, what to see, what budget would suit me, etc. But nothing was working out and nothing felt right.

    Switzerland was planned as in-between country for Italy and Germany (I’d been to both previously), in the end I started thinking about Germany and the places I haven’t visited yet and you know what? it took me two months to try and figure out where I wanted to go in Switzerland and I still didn’t have a solution and it took me all of one day to come out with a new, expanded itinerary for Germany and book all tickets (coincidentally, Deutsche Bahn had a sale at the time and I got some very good deals as opposed to Germany’s insane train travel prices). Oh, I was so happy! And still am. So I whole-heartedly agree, it’s okay t change your travel plans.

    A great post Kate, and a theme I often urge upon people. Plans are not set in stone, merely a handy way to have an idea for what you want to do. My personal experience, after nearly a year travelling round Oz, I met a girl (I know, we cliched people) and ended up spending five weeks on the beach in Byron Bay instead of shooting round Queensland. Then instead of a hop across to New Zealand, i took a four month detour to Germany. Now we’re travelling together in New Zealand, and loving every bit. And I had no way of foreseeing that at all 🙂

      Funny how love can make you totally scrap all your plans, huh? But I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. I didn’t realize that was your story, Laurence! How cool. Glad you guys are having fun in NZ.

      Laurence, I can also understand the pull of the beach! I’ve never been a super beachy person, but I practically had to be pried away from Koh Lanta and later Ao Nang! Some destinations seep into your skin!

    So much travel blog love going on these days! I like it.

    I haven’t made many plans for my upcoming trip because I know they’re going to change!

      I’ve made a few plans for my upcoming trip, but nothing that’s set in stone. I want to be flexible so that I can enjoy my week in Hawaii as much as humanly possible!

    I love this post! Really, the best part about any trip always ends up being the unexpected things that happened along the way 🙂

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