I Can’t Stop Changing My Mind!


When I decided to travel, I had only a vague idea of where I’d like to visit.

I’d initially planned to spend 3 months exploring Europe, followed by 3 months volunteering in Hawaii and hadn’t planned much else. As soon as I threw myself into the travel community and started to read blogs and research locations, my route changed entirely. The length of the trip quadrupled in size, and my dreams grew bigger than ever.

I realised that spending in three months in Europe would likely evaporate a lot of my savings, and after looking at the prices, especially in Western Europe, I knew that I would have to cut this out of my plan. There were areas of Eastern Europe that fascinated me, with the added bonus of being a lot cheaper! I took these countries one at a time, and studied them, learnt about things to do, read about other peoples’ experiences there, and either added them to my list, or crossed them off.

Eventually I had a list of places I wanted to visit, and could start to connect the dots. I don’t want to spend a huge amount of time in Europe, and at times I thought about cutting it out completely, but I’ve decided it will be the perfect start to my trip. At present, the plan is to fly into Prague, and probably travel by train and bus through Slovakia to Hungary, onto Slovenia and Croatia. From there I would like to visit Greece and maybe Turkey. From Turkey, I will travel up to Ukraine. I have a new addition to my trip which I only added within the last few days: Chernobyl! I’ve had mixed reactions about my decision to visit there (Either: WHY?! Are you insane? Or: Wow! That is SO cool!), but after checking that it is perfectly safe, I have decided to take a tour there, and it’s possibly the part I’m most excited about for the first segment of the trip.

 

I had originally planned on doing some volunteer work in Hawaii at this point, but after reading about so many amazing adventures, North America just didn’t appeal to me at that point. I wanted to see Asia, and experience cultures that were different to my way of life in the UK.

I decided on spending some time in China, and at first I was going to book a flight there, but one night, just before I was going to sleep, the idea of taking the Trans-Siberian Railway popped into my head. I have no idea how or why it did, but I immediately got back out of bed, fired up my laptop and started researching the route and possible stops. My stomach filled with butterflies, and I felt exhilarated just thinking about it. How could I possibly take a flight and miss all of that adventure? So it was settled. I would take the Trans-Siberian Railway through Russia, stopping off in Mongolia and then heading off to China. I haven’t been able to research the specific stops I’d like to take when in Russia yet, but I plan on doing so over the next few weeks.

I spent ages agonising over where to go after finishing the Trans-Siberian Railway. Even now I am not certain about where I want to go. Thoughts of China, Japan, Thailand, Indonesia, Australia. I’m an incredibly indecisive person and always have the fear that if I cross somewhere off, I could have had the best time ever. It’s scary! My tentative plan at the moment is to spend a brief amount of time in China, travelling down to Hong Kong and I’ll fly to Malaysia.

I’m planning on flying into Sydney just in time for Christmas, where the fourth segment of my journey begins. I am going to get a Working Holiday Visa for Australia, so I plan on settling down for quite some time.

When I look at my original route and look at mine now, I laugh at how completely different they are. At times, I wonder if I should scrap my route and form a completely different one.

I have to accept I can’t visit every country in the world, and I especially can’t on this trip. I want this trip to be the best experience of my life. Even though I’ll have to miss out on some amazing places I’d love to visit, I’ll find even more amazing places on the way, and the places I’ve missed out on will still be there for my next adventure after this one.

Sometimes you have to go with your gut feeling. My initial plans never felt right with me. I was excited about it, but it never really clicked. Once I started making small adjustments, I started to get a good feeling about my plans. When I cut out places like Sweden and Germany from my original plan, I didn’t feel sad about it. Why waste your trip of a lifetime in a place you don’t care if you do or don’t visit? Now, after having made new plans, the thought of flying to China instead of taking the Trans-Siberian Railway fills me with sadness and regret – I know I have to do it.

You have to be ruthless, but you also have to accept that you will change your mind. And that’s okay. I expect to change my mind again before leaving, and I’ll probably change it even more once I’m on the road. Choosing to travel without fixed plans and travel dates allows me a lot of flexibility to change my plans if I so wish so I don’t have the added burden of knowing everything is set in stone and I can’t back out of it!

 

Are you as fickle as me? How do you force yourself to sit down and commit to a plan?

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26 Comments

  1. Rebecca
    February 26, 2011
    Reply

    To answer the question you started this post with the answer is NO!!! My only recc for you would not to plan too much too early otherwise you’ll get totally overwhelmed. I only did Australia (and back and forth to New Zealand) and rarely planned more then 2 weeks ahead of time. I knew there were some dates I had to hit (be in Brisbane by a certain day to fly back to NZ), but give myself like 7 weeks to get from Cairns to there.

    Give yourself some big dates to be in certain place by, but don’t worry too much about getting there at the moment.

    Good luck, can’t wait to read more!

    • Lauren
      February 26, 2011
      Reply

      Hi Rebecca! Thanks for commenting! :)

      That’s definitely good advice, and I know that if I plan for months in advance and try and stick to it, I’ll end up getting stressed out over it, and worrying if I’m on schedule, etc!

    • Ian [EagerExistence]
      March 14, 2011
      Reply

      Great advice. Thanks Rebecca. Use newbie traveler’s tend to think too far ahead.

  2. jill- Jack and JIll Travel
    February 27, 2011
    Reply

    I’ve been in your shoes before — not a long time ago actually. After moaning and whining about how the world is too large and how I can’t possibly see everything, I threw planning out of the window.

    We’re just going to take things as they come.

    Anyway, anoter thing that I found useful was to create a criteria of countries to I nix off the list right of the bat. Here’s ours:

    Your criterias will be different of course, but hopefully it will be useful to create ur first draft of itinerary.

    • Lauren
      February 27, 2011
      Reply

      Hi Jill!

      I’ve spent my whole life planning every single detail so to suddenly just forget about planning scares me a lot! But I’m starting to understand that it’s the best way to travel…

      Your post was really useful and I’m going to create a similar list today and use that as a guideline for the rest of my planning :)

  3. Wilson Usman
    February 28, 2011
    Reply

    absolutely, there is something about us bloggers that makes us different than others. Although you might want to plan this trip out are perfectly as possible, you might want to leave some space in between for unexpected situations.

    As you might already know by now, life will through punches at you, you just gotta know how to avoid them or get back up if they hit you. okay I might be getting a little to fluffy here…

    just remember that all plans normally don’t go according to plan, it’s just the way life is, that’s my experience.

    Wish you a ton of luck!

    • Lauren
      February 28, 2011
      Reply

      Hi Wilson!

      As someone who loves to plan, it’s scary not being able to plan and be prepared for every single situation possible!

      I’ve got to learn to chill out and relax though – Just take everything in my stride and keep smiling no matter what life throws at me!

      • Wilson Usman
        February 28, 2011
        Reply

        Yea I mean, it all about being prepared for whatever happens, even though we don’t even know what might happen. It’s okay to go with the flow sometimes.

  4. Matt | YearAroundTheWorld
    February 28, 2011
    Reply

    I’ve lived in Hawaii, and while it is beautiful, there are cheaper and equally beautiful places all over the world. Good luck with your planning!

    • Lauren
      February 28, 2011
      Reply

      Yes, exactly! I spent 3 weeks in Hawaii and really wanted to go back and spend even longer there – But it IS expensive, and I decided I didn’t want to do any of North America on this trip.

      I’m much more looking forward to visiting new and more exciting places now!

    • flower
      January 29, 2016
      Reply

      Hey- what places would you say are equally as beautiful and cheaper?

      • Lauren
        January 29, 2016
        Reply

        Matt likely won’t see your comment, so I’ll tell you that there are thousands! Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, the Philippines, the Cook Islands, Fiji, French Polynesia, Belize, Guatemala…

  5. Tijmen
    March 1, 2011
    Reply

    It can be really hard and annoying to have to make decisions like that. I like to plan a bit as well, but not down to the small details. Most of the time I end up going to places I never intended to visit in the first place, but I rarely regret it.

    I have been planning on taking the Trans-Siberian express as well for ages, maybe it will happen next year :) Never heard of anyone visiting Chernobyl though as a tourist and taking a tour. Would be an interesting spot to visit :)

    • Lauren
      March 1, 2011
      Reply

      That’s what I hope to do, research a country and decide if I want to go there, but not decide what I’m going to do whilst I’m there UNTIL I get there.

      You should definitely try to do the Trans Siberian Express – I’m really excited about it!! Chernobyl should be cool too… Although I’ll be really tempted to dress up as a zombie and make a movie there! :)

  6. Garreth
    March 1, 2011
    Reply

    I’m pretty much the same. I had originally decided to do the Trans-Siberian to China, then it was the Mongol Rally then I saw a £300 one way ticket to Beijing a week for 4 days after I graduate so just booked that so I will now have a lot more money when I arrive and Asia and will be able to spend 5-6 months kicking it there before I also head to Oz around Xmas/NY time on my working holiday Visa.

    I think there’s no harm in these plans because I bet when you’re out there on the open road they’ll change almost daily and that’s the whole part of the fun!

    Now just to get this stupid dissertation out the way!! grrrrrrrrrrrr

    • Lauren
      March 1, 2011
      Reply

      We are so similar haha! I keep wondering whether to cut out the Europe part altogether – But I’ll probably just spend a month there and see the countries I really want to. I’ve been tempted so many times to just throw away my plans and book a flight to Thailand! But I like my route now so I’m sticking with it!

      Looks like we’ll be in Australia at the same time on Working Holiday Visas… Have you decided where in Oz you want to go yet? Or changing your mind daily?! Hahaha!

      Yeah, I should be working on my major project now – I can’t wait to get uni out of the way so I can start planning this properly! :D

      • Garreth
        March 2, 2011
        Reply

        I think we’re going to fly into Perth to see some friends and family there then head East after that. I really want to take in X-mas and NYE in Sydney then maybe head up to Brisbane and set up base there for a while! What you thinking?

        Yeah it’s tough on the Europe thing. The only reason I cut out the Trans-Siberian was cost. I really want as much money as I can in Asia and to give myself a good start in Oz as well.

        What’s your savings target?

        • Lauren
          March 2, 2011
          Reply

          I was planning on spending Christmas and New Years in Sydney – So I’ll see you then! :)

          I was thinking of Melbourne for a while, and possible Brisbane too – I definitely have to do the great barrier reef and Ayers rock at some point!

          My savings target is £15,000, and I should be able to reach it by the time I leave! What’s yours?

  7. Garreth
    March 2, 2011
    Reply

    Nowhere near as much as that. I’ll be happy to go with £7/8000 and should be able to reach that.

    Yeah I’m between Brissy and Melbourne. I guess time will tell!

    Backpacking blogger NYE party in Sydney is already on the cards then! :-)

  8. Jeremy
    March 17, 2011
    Reply

    You sound exactly like me. I started planning my trip as 3 months on a tour. Then it became 5 months. Then it became 10. Then 14. Then somehow I changed my mind completely and only went for 5 (with now plans to do another 12-18 in two years).

    It is funny you have to be somewhere for Christmas, because last year I had to be in Singapore by Christmas after starting in Tokyo in mid-August. From there I covered everything in between.

    I think it is good to keep yourself open from that point. With having a final date you need to be somewhere, you will have to keep moving and skip things. But it also forces you to keep moving forward and see more. Give yourself a lot of time in Thailand if you like beaches and mountain activities. I was only going to go for 3 to 4 weeks, and it turned into 6, with me wishing I had 6 more.

    If I had to recommend anything though it would be to see less places in each country and more different countries than more places in one, unless you find you really really like it. Getting a view of the different cultures is great, and you can always go back :)

    No matter what, you wont be upset.

  9. Katie
    June 25, 2012
    Reply

    Hey Lauren, I just wanted to let you know that this post helped me sooo much! I’m planning on spending the next year abroad, backpacking for 3 months in Europe but I was starting to get seriously worried about finances and I just kept seeing myself stranded in some city with absolutely no money. Then I stumbled upon your website (through Adventurous Kate’s) and this post totally opened my eyes and made me realize that my travel plans weren’t set in stone and that I can change my mind whenever I like. I will now be spending those three months in Southern Asia starting with Thailand, thanks to your amazing pictures and interesting/funny posts about your experiences there (all the pictures of the beaches are what really got me. I’m a SoCal girl, which means I LOVE the sand, surf, and sun). Thank you so much! I’m no longer so stressed about money and am just as, if not more excited for my trip!

    • Lauren
      June 25, 2012
      Reply

      Hey Katie! :)

      Wow that’s so great to hear that my post helped you :) Honestly, if you look at my original plans and where I actually travelled they couldn’t be further apart. I’m supposed to be in Australia on a Working Holiday visa and instead I’m spending the next 6 months in Africa and the Middle East.

      Relax and go with the flow – it’s much more fun to wake up one morning and decide on the spur of the moment you want to go to Cambodia at the weekend!

  10. Change of Plans « FREEdom Abroad
    July 2, 2012
    Reply

    […] Footsteps where I found that the blog’s owner, Lauren, had gone through the same need to change her plans that I was experiencing. I continued reading her blog and found some amazing posts and pictures of […]

  11. Derek Freal
    April 7, 2013
    Reply

    You’re not the only one, I have the save problem. Part of the reason I stopped writing about my future travel plans on my blog was b/c half the time I’d end up somewhere completely different. What can I say, I’m easily distracted.

    But then again, when you travel without plans it tends to result in many more adventures and new-found friends ;)

  12. Chris
    January 28, 2015
    Reply

    Hi Lauren. So many places, so little time (and where is the budget), right? I definitely understand what you mean. I am located in Greece and saw that it is one of your pinpoints. Make a decision and jump! It will only be good.

    • Lauren
      January 28, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Chris,

      This post is actually nearly four years old and I can’t believe I’ve been travelling full-time for that long! I’ve still not made it to Greece but I’m hoping I will this year :-)

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