According to Plan

Why Your Travels (And Life) Should Never Go According To Plan

Derek Perspectives, Travel Tips & Advice 85 Comments

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According to Plan

During my senior year of high school, and after a great deal of debate, I eventually chose the university that I would attend for the next stage of my studies. I chose a university in Atlanta, Georgia. However, when I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree some four years later, I had not only attended that university in Atlanta, but I had also attended a university in Melbourne, Australia and a university in my home state of Massachusetts as well.

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When I first started traveling back in 1999, my plan was to travel for three months. I even had a return flight back to the USA, for exactly ninety days after I touched down in Bangkok. Go figure. I ended up traveling for 14 years…so far. I’ve visited countries I never imagined I would ever visit, I’ve had experiences that I never even knew were possible and I’ve met people whose existence and culture I had been completely unaware of.

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Furthermore, when I decided to try and travel indefinitely, I quickly reached the conclusion that the only way to make this happen, to fund my travels, would be to teach English around the world. Fast forward to now and I’ve used a combination of English teaching, working on cruise ships and working online to help keep this traveling lifestyle going.

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In about two weeks or so from today, I’ll be launching a new website project that I’ve been working on with a friend of mine. And I’m extremely excited about this project, even though the project that will be launched looks absolutely nothing like the original idea we had started with a few months ago. There’s almost zero resemblance.

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The point of all this is that every stage of my travels, every stage of my life actually, never ends up being what I thought it would be. I go in thinking I’ll attend one university, I come out having attended three. I go in thinking I’ll travel for three months, and now I feel as if I could travel forever.

And you know what? I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

In fact, I’m a firm believer that nothing should ever go according to plan. Nothing. If something does go exactly according to plan, the chance is high that something is wrong. How can things go exactly as planned when there is no way for us to know exactly what will happen once we start to put that plan into action?

If we’re open to new ideas, and we welcome the chance for our ideas and goals to constantly evolve based upon new experiences we have in life and new information we receive or learn, it would only be natural that our plans should change often as well.

That Includes Travel Plans!

If it’s travel we’re talking about, it doesn’t matter if you’re going on a two week holiday to the beach, a three month trip around Asia or South America or a one year round-the-world adventure. It should never go according to plan in my opinion.

Of course, that’s up to each of us. The opportunities to disable our original plan and head off in a direction we once would never have conceived of instead, will always be there. Such opportunities will appear all the time. It all comes down to whether or not we embrace those opportunities and see where it takes us, even if it takes us far away from our original plan, or if we choose to ignore them instead.

When I traveled to Romania for the first time back in 2011, I was on the tail end of a two month Eurail train journey around Europe. And my plan for Romania was simple, to get a quick glimpse of the country over the course of one week and then hop on the train to Istanbul where my European adventure would come to an end. Well, that didn’t happen. Before I knew it, I was enjoying Romania so much that I made a sudden decision to abandon my original plan and change course completely. Soon after, I had set up a ‘base’ in Bucharest, I had started traveling all over this country and I began spending more time here than I would have ever guessed I would spend in this land over the course of five lifetimes.

And I’m so very happy I made that sudden change of plans. In fact, I’m so very happy that I made all of the above changes in plans over the years and that as far as I can remember, I’ve never completed anything major in my life according to the original plan. For me, the result of being open to spontaneous, unexpected change is a life more in tune with what I truly want to gain from each day I spend on this planet. And that certainly seems worth it to me.

So here’s to change. Here’s to a fuller life. Here’s to welcoming the notion that what might be our plan today, could very well be crumbled up, tossed away and replaced by an even better plan tomorrow.

Are you open to change? Do your travels/life situations usually go according to plan or do they end up being different than what you originally expected?


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Comments 85

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  2. Lesh @ NOMADasaurus

    Great post Earl. So true. I believe you should never plan a trip, just go with it. I have planned in the past and nothing goes to plan or I enjoy a place too much and want to stay longer, like you in Romania. I love talking to other travellers and finding out things that those guide books don’t have in them. Then our route changes once again.

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  4. Natasha

    Great post Earl! I totally agree with you.
    Last year I was heading to the little town Tuticorin in the south of India to teach English in the orphanage, but I ended up in Indore teaching Russian culture to the college students. Changes can be for the best)

  5. Mia

    Hi!

    I’m finding myselg enjoying tremendously your posts and being sucked into your wonderful crazy adventure world. I myself want to break free from my current life plan, since it doesn’t agree with my soul. I do however have a question for you.

    How did you teach English overseas? Did you need TEFL certificate or other certificate?

    Your life is a dream to me. I so wish I could fulfil it too.

  6. Kai S

    Hi Earl!

    This is all so true. I agree things can change in an instant and nothing should go according to plan. I’d like to think I know what is in my future, but I remain open to any and all changes, whether travel plans or life plans. You never know what experiences and opportunities these changes could lead to. However, I do want to travel more in the future – that’s one thing I hope doesn’t change. I really enjoy reading your blog and following you on your endless journeys. It must be an amazing experience and I enjoy reading your stories and reflections. Happy travels!

    -KS

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  8. Katherine Wright

    Excellent post. I identified with the last bit of being open, as plans can change in a moment. I’m currently HelpXing in Ireland, heading up to Nortern Ireland next month to WWOOF as my visa is nearly up here….or so I’ve planned 🙂 thanks for the inspiration and reminders. Cheers, Earl!

  9. Jamie @ The Inspired Globetrotter

    Hey Earl,
    That’s all so true, I remember in my teens I was always fairly certain I wanted to be a journalist. But as we grow our perspective changes, and nothing changes perspective faster than travel. So just like you, here I am after my first trip yet to set foot back on home soil.

    Here’s to dreaming but not inflexibility.

    Happy travels,
    Jamie

  10. George

    Scooby-Doo and the mystery gang’s attempt to capture the monster, ghosts, ‘bad guys’ never went according to plan, but it always worked out in the end.

    We should all just trust that we don’t know where the story ends but we can hope to make it a great one.

    Great post, Earl!

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