Why I Have No Plans for 2012


Pai signpost

After writing a brief summary of my travels in 2011, it would make perfect sense for me to follow it up with my travel plans for 2012.

But the truth is…

I actually have no plans.

None at all.

I have absolutely no idea what I’ll be doing and where I’ll be going in 2012. 

boracay white beach philippines

…But hopefully it will involve a few beaches. 

When I left London to travel in July, I had a very detailed itinerary of exactly where I was going to go. Whenever somebody would ask me about my plans, I was able to instantly recite a full list of countries and dates – I knew exactly where I was going to be for the whole of 2011.

I stuck to this itinerary for less than two months.  

My first stop was in Croatia and I had booked a flight out of Moscow for six weeks later.

However, when I finally arrived in Asia, everything changed. 

I landed in Taipei with no onward flight booked and started enjoying having the luxury of being able to stay in places for longer than three days. I was now able to have lazy days where I could lie in bed and watch movies without feeling like I was missing out on valuable travel time.

I adored Taiwan and gradually my 5 days I’d originally planned on spending there stretched out into three weeks!

I finally worked up the courage to head over to China and I was fully intending on spending 2 months there. Of course, once I arrived I found that I hated it and wasn’t enjoying myself at all. 

I forced myself to stay and stick it out for a while, telling myself that things would get better and that I’d soon get used to the crazy culture.

With each passing day, I found myself becoming more and more miserable. 

Why was I torturing myself when I didn’t have to? 

During a conversation with one of the girls I met in Taiwan she told me to come and hang out with her in Seoul. She promised me that it was the perfect place to de-stress and that she would take me to strangely-named coffee shops every day.

snob coffee shop seoul

Perfect.

Within hours, I had booked a flight to Seoul and once I got there I found that it was just what I needed and I ended up staying for 3 weeks.

A country that I hadn’t even considered visiting turned out to be one of my favourite stops of 2011.

That was when I began to realise that this whole having plans thing really wasn’t working for me. Still, I was adamant that I was going to stick to my original itinerary, so I flew to Hong Kong and planned to re-enter China and stick to my plan of exploring Southern China.

However, when searching for flights out of Hong Kong I discovered that it costs only £20 to fly to the Philippines.

After a quick image search of Philippine beaches, and knowing that my second time in China would probably be less enjoyable than a colonic irrigation with chilli sauce, I booked my ticket right away. 

In the Philippines I had some of my best travel experiences to date. I met four amazing girls and we spent three weeks island hopping and having hundreds of crazy adventures – swimming in the sea in our underwear at midnight, peeing under palm trees, going to bars run entirely by little people, to name but a few.

boracay white beach

When my visa for the Philippines ran out, I had strayed so far away from my previous plans that I had no idea where to go to next.

…And I loved it. 

I chose my next destination at random the night before I was due to leave. To decide, I blindfolded myself in front of a map of South-East Asia and started prodding at it at random. After ending up in the South China Sea five times in a row, I gave up and started actually researching flights and destinations.

I was struggling to choose between Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam… Basically anywhere that I could get a reasonably priced flight to.

Knowing that one of my friends was heading over to Thailand, I booked some flights to Bangkok and followed her, thinking I’d only spend a few weeks in Thailand…

As expected, the complete opposite happened. I ended up finding a boyfriend, moving in with him and planning to stay in Thailand until April.

Not only that but I am now planning on going to India for the Holi festival in March, with India being somewhere that I always said I’d avoid and had no plans to visit. 

Pai signpost

When I look back at the first post I ever wrote on this site, compare that to the itinerary I had set in stone when I left to travel and then compare those two plans to the events that actually occurred this year, I am amazed at just how much my plans were modified.

Before I left, everybody I spoke to told me not to plan too much in advance, because my plans will change. I, of course, ignored everyone’s advice and went ahead and meticulously planned everything out anyway. 

They were right and I was wrong.

This is precisely why I have made zero plans for 2012. I now feel that any time spent making plans for the year ahead would be a waste of energy as the chances of me actually following through on them are extremely low.

So there you have it, I have absolutely no idea where I will be going in 2012.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way…


Have you ever changed your plans half-way through a trip?

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66 Comments

  1. Megan Eileen
    January 2, 2012
    Reply

    I love this article! I’m also having trouble planning my travel plans this year because I’ve often found that I rarely stick to a tight schedule. All the best in 2012!

    • Lauren
      January 3, 2012
      Reply

      I’m the opposite, I normally plan out every single detail. It’s been really liberating to stop planning entirely and just go with the flow.

  2. Jen
    January 2, 2012
    Reply

    that’s the best way babe, life’s so much more of an adventure when you don’t know where you’ll end up – can’t wait to hear the stories x

    • Lauren
      January 3, 2012
      Reply

      Definitely, I can’t wait to see where this year will take me..

  3. The World of Deej
    January 2, 2012
    Reply

    Sounds like a good “plan” to me:) Look forward to reading about wherever the road takes you in 2012…

    • Lauren
      January 3, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks! :)

  4. Yvette
    January 2, 2012
    Reply

    Woohoo! Plans are for suckers when you’ve got the luxury of time. Have fun!

    • Lauren
      January 3, 2012
      Reply

      Damn straight! :D

  5. Roy | The Riding Dutchman
    January 2, 2012
    Reply

    Go with the flow! That’s my plan too lol

    • Lauren
      January 3, 2012
      Reply

      That’s great, it’s much more fun this way! ;)

  6. Sarah
    January 2, 2012
    Reply

    I am so pro “have no travel plans.”

    No expectations means no disappointments, right? So basically, any travel that you actually do this year means you have totally exceeded your expectations!

    Win-win, I’d say!

    • Lauren
      January 3, 2012
      Reply

      That’s an awesome way of looking at it! …So now I’ve already exceeded my expectations, 3 days into 2012!

  7. Christine
    January 3, 2012
    Reply

    After being an obsessive trip planner in Europe, I started to go with the flow a bit more in Australia…and now I just rocked up to Asia with absolutely NO plans. Super liberating but also pretty weird–will be interesting to see how 2012 goes!

    • Lauren
      January 3, 2012
      Reply

      It IS liberating, and whilst I freaked out for the first few weeks of doing it, I couldn’t imagine travelling WITH fixed plans now! You’ll love it.

  8. Michelle
    January 3, 2012
    Reply

    Wow, I’m glad you had a good time here in the Philippines. Do you think it’s possible for you to go back here to visit new places? I know that this post is all about not having any plans at all, but is it possible for you to visit those countries you found enjoyable anytime this 2012? I love your blog and you’re very inspiring. :)

    • Lauren
      January 3, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Michelle!

      I loved the Philippines. I’ll definitely be back to visit again, but not sure about making it back in 2012.

      Anything is possible :)

  9. Beverley | Pack Your Passport
    January 3, 2012
    Reply

    Mark and I have changed our plan COUNTLESS times since we left England 18 months ago. We originally planned to spend 3 months in Sydney but ended up stayed for 7, originally planned to only stay in Melbourne for 5 months but that turned into 11! It’s a good thing we got our second year visa else we’d have no more times to see the rest of Australia!

    Having no plans can be a bit stressful sometimes because everything’s always up in the air but I get why you don’t want to make any – taking each day or week as it comes makes life feel so free.

    Good on you lovely, I’m really looking forward to seeing what you get up to this year.

    Hopefully this will not involve sweaty sock and old men… ;-) haha xx

    • Lauren
      January 3, 2012
      Reply

      Wow, I didn’t realise you’d stayed put for so long at a time – you’d need a 22 year visa to see all of it at that rate! ;)

      It’s definitely been stressful as I’m really indecisive at times, and when I have to make a decision within a few hours it drives me insane!

      Having said that, I really do enjoy the freedom of going where I want when I want and being spontaneous!

  10. @t_pat
    January 3, 2012
    Reply

    I started a “Yes Man” experiment for this new year. It’s my personal “eff-you” to the phase New Year’s Resolution. I said yes to every request for the first 48 hours of 2012. It turned out well. I learned loads about myself.

    • Lauren
      January 3, 2012
      Reply

      That sounds like fun! Are you going to do it for the whole year?

  11. Juan
    January 3, 2012
    Reply

    Great read, best way to travel. Keep an open mind, and don’t limit yourself. Safe travels :)

    • Lauren
      January 4, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Juan. It’s definitely the best way!

  12. Peg
    January 3, 2012
    Reply

    This is the same reason we aren’t planning a “RTW” trip. Our plans never go as planned, and we have the best time when we leave it open to chance and opportunity.

    I love that you had such a great time! Happy wide open travels to you in the new year.

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Peg! It’s great that you’re not planning either!

  13. Larissa - Changes In Longitude
    January 3, 2012
    Reply

    You got it right. It’s no fun knowing exactly where you’re going. That’s one of the reasons we didn’t get the RTW ticket. Being flexible is awesome. Have a great 2012!

    Larissa and Michael
    Changes In Longitude

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      I am SO GLAD I didn’t get a RTW ticket. Whenever I meet people who have them it makes me feel so sad for them ;)

  14. Mina Sameh
    January 3, 2012
    Reply

    I only had a small experience on that, While walking el Camino de Santiago, I had planned I would reach Santiago in 30 days, stay there for 5 days and then take a bus to finisterre for just 1 day stay there.

    Ended up walking for 33 days to Santiago, Staying there for only 2 nights, and being addicted to walking, decided to take a 3 days walk to finisterre and spend there 2 nights as well, which was probably one of the best choices I have done during my Camino de Santiago trip

    Looking forward to read more about where you’ll end up in 2012 ;) Goodluck

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      Awesome! Glad to hear that making some spur of the moment decisions worked out well for you too!

  15. John
    January 3, 2012
    Reply

    I’m jealous of your open ended adventure. Me? Work pretty much dictates everywhere I go, so I fantasize about being able to choose my destinations. Don’t take it for granted and make the most of it, but more importantly have fun!

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      I always have fun :)

  16. Emily in Chile
    January 4, 2012
    Reply

    It sounds like letting go of your plans worked out pretty amazingly for your last year, so maybe a plan-free 2012 is the way to go. Looking forward to seeing where you end up!

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Emily!

  17. Dustin Main - Skinny Backpacker
    January 4, 2012
    Reply

    Plans are for suckers :)

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      Damn straight!

  18. Ian [EagerExistence]
    January 4, 2012
    Reply

    It’s a more expensive way to travel, but its definitely better. Holi festival should be amazing! With so many amazing adventurous things to do, and festivals to go to around the world, there’s always somewhere to go. It just means hanging out on the Interwebz or asking everyone you meet where they’re headed… but I think you (and the rest of us) can manage that just fine.

    I’m interested to learn what you did with your 3 weeks in Taiwan, and 3 weeks in Taipei. When I stay more than a week, I feel like I have to do something (work, enrol in a course, etc).

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      I spent 3 weeks in Taiwan, going anticlockwise around the island, spending 2 or 3 days in each place – so I didn’t just stay in Taipei.

  19. Vi
    January 4, 2012
    Reply

    Having no plan also is a plan :)

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      True!

  20. Gina
    January 5, 2012
    Reply

    Take a tip from Led Zeppelin song ‘Going to California’ and come visit me!

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      I hope I’ll be able to!

  21. Megan
    January 5, 2012
    Reply

    i have always found it easier to enjoy the present if you don’t know what the future holds for you…it definitely shows here :) cheers to a great 2012 for you and i cant wait to see what fun (and messes) you get yourself into…and where you’ll be :)

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Megan!

  22. Micamyx|Senyorita
    January 6, 2012
    Reply

    I guess the plan is not to have any plan at all! :D

    I think as long as you have a goal and you know what truly makes you happy, that makes every journey worthwhile. Just go with the flow, Lauren! I am also happy that you enjoyed your stay in the Philippines :D

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      Ah, I loved the Philippines! :)

  23. Ali
    January 7, 2012
    Reply

    Since I have a limited time for my RTW, I had a plan and pretty much stuck to it. I was flexible in a few places, but I couldn’t stray too much from the plan. I do often wonder what my trip would’ve been like if I was able to be more flexible and spontaneous with it though. Sounds like you’re having a great time, good luck on the next part of your travels!

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Ali! Yeah, if i had a limited time (like I did in the beginning of my trip) then I would have planned much more.

  24. Juno
    January 14, 2012
    Reply

    Sounds like a plan to me! Good luck with your journey! :)

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      Thanks, Juno! :)

  25. Laurence
    January 14, 2012
    Reply

    Plans are definitely overrated :) I’ve got no idea what 2012 holds for me either, and I kinda like it that way! Enjoy it, wherever it takes you!

  26. Bret @ Green Global Travel
    January 14, 2012
    Reply

    We had no plans last year– sometimes that can be nice, especially when you land trips out of the blue that surprise (like our Galapagos trip, which came together in literally a week). But this year it looks like we may be VERY busy, travel-wise. Should make for interesting change of pace!

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      Busy is still good – hope you have an awesome 2012! :)

  27. Angie Orth of Angie Away
    January 14, 2012
    Reply

    Such a good lesson to learn early in your travels! Winging it is the new black. Good luck in 2012 – hope to run into you on a beach somewhere!

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      So true, hope to cross paths with you in 2012!

  28. Amanda
    January 14, 2012
    Reply

    It seems that this type of no-plans travel works really well for long-term travelers like yourself! It doesn’t work quite as well in my case, but I still do like to have flexibility on the road!

    • Lauren
      January 15, 2012
      Reply

      It really does, but when I would go away for a few weeks then I always planned out every details and preferred doing that!

  29. Ryan
    January 15, 2012
    Reply

    Awesome post Lauren, and exactly what I have been doing the first two months of my travels. Ever since I stopped planning, amazing experiences have come along and I have taken advantage of them because I had no lingering obligations of other plans. Plus, when you make plans, plans fail a lot of times, and turns the whole experience sour. I hopped in a car last minute and spent 3 weeks traveling the Northland of NZ with people I just met. Sleeping on random beaches in my hammock, relaxing, exploring. It was great. Looks like 2012 will be a great you of random opportunities for ya!

  30. Fidel @IHarTravel
    January 16, 2012
    Reply

    Think you will be in Vietnam any time this year?
    Sorry I couldn’t meet up with you in Chiang Mai. I wish I had gone up there. I hear nothing but great things about Chiang Mai.
    I love that you don’t have plans and you are going where you want, when you want.

  31. Jade - OurOyster.com
    January 21, 2012
    Reply

    OOOoooOO you met a boyfriend! Awesome! I bet that will change everything for sure! I love travel love!

  32. Jemma
    March 16, 2012
    Reply

    Great read :-) You made me think about travel in a new light! I love to organise, but may stop organising everything and just go with the flow from now on! Just curious how you fund your travels – what jobs have you had whilst travelling?

    • Lauren
      March 18, 2012
      Reply

      Hi Jemma,

      Thanks so much! :) I fund my travels through this site – from advertising, etc.

      • Jemma
        March 20, 2012
        Reply

        Thanks for your reply! Thats amazing to be able to do it through the site! Good on ya, your posts are funny and interesting to read so you’re born to write – even better to be able to travel from it! :-)

  33. Bruno
    April 18, 2012
    Reply

    Hi I noticed the first picture in this blog, is that Boracay? :)

    • Lauren
      April 18, 2012
      Reply

      Yes, it is!

      • Bruno
        April 19, 2012
        Reply

        Wow…makes me feel proud that you have been here. Nice blog, really! :) I live in the Philippines so I have been to Boracay so many times already but I am still teary-eyed every single time when it time to leave. It’s also been ranked by Yahoo as the 6th best beach in the world for 2012. Anyway, if ever you come back here, try going to Coron, Palawan and the Batanes Islands as well (if you haven’t been there yet).

        Anyway I really like your blog because it makes me experience the things that I want to do, feels like I’m there also. I travel also, but not in the same frequency as you.

        Keep blogging and God Bless! :)

  34. Gregory
    May 20, 2012
    Reply

    This is SO inspiring! My work commitment will be over 30 June. Will have a couple months more of wrapping up loose ends but after that I am FREE! And SE Asia is the likely destination. Can’t wait to CHILL.

  35. Ally
    November 19, 2012
    Reply

    the first photo looks gorgeous

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