I am a planner. Ask any of my friends. I usually have all my weekends planned a month ahead. The same goes for trips. I already have two trips for 2018 planned. So it goes without saying that I like to plan the itinerary for a trip in advance, especially for an international trip. If I’m going to get on a plane for 10.5 hours I want to make sure that I have the perfect trip. But what makes the perfect trip?
Looking back on the trips that I’ve taken in the last four to five years, the moments that I’ve loved the most, and that have given me the most joy, are the ones that have been unplanned. Last year, in London, my sister and I went to our favorite restaurant in Soho called Mildred’s. That part was planned. We always have lunch there on our first day in London. Afterwards we walked a couple of blocks to the Nordic Bakery, a new place that my sister wanted to try, for dessert. It’s located in Golden Square. Jet lagged and exhausted we bought some tea and pastries and went to sit in the square. We sat on a bench, clutching our tea, and trying desperately to stay awake. There were a bunch of people sitting and eating in the square, on their lunch break. The trees were tipped with yellow and the light was golden. It had a wonderful, fall vibe. Magical. It is one of my favorite memories of that trip. We went back to both Mildred’s and the Nordic Bakery later in the trip, but the experience wasn’t the same. The magic of our first visit was gone.
If I could create an entire trip filled with moments like that, it would be perfect. But part of what makes those kinds of moments is that they are unanticipated. The best I can do is to make sure I make room for them to happen. Which means not planning as much as I usually do.
My sister and I are going to London again soon. It is one of our favorite cities. It’s also the perfect place to test out this theory. We’re going for a long visit, ten days, which gives us the time to get up every morning and decide what we want to do that day based on how we feel. We’ll make a few reservations, and get tickets for one of two things in advance, but other than that we’re going to try to go with the flow. Allow London to surprise and delight us.