Are you a travel planner or pathfinder? Do you arrange your travel in advance, or turn up to wherever you go and see what happens? I’m an obsessive planner (which is why my blog – A Plan To Go focuses on detailed travel itineraries) but I have a whole lot of respect for those who are able to drift from one place to the next without an itinerary.
Planner or pathfinder?
Planning travel in advance
There are, in my view, many benefits of arranging an itinerary in advance. It:
- Ensures that you don’t miss anything
- Allows you to secure better prices on accommodation
- Allows you to save money on transport costs
- Means you don’t waste precious holiday time on figuring out how to get about
It is fair to say therefore there are plenty of reasons to argue for being a planner and not a pathfinder.
Doing your research
Sales of guidebooks saw a drop of 40% between 2005 and 2011, but there’s been a small revival since 2016 (although Brexit has affected sales in the UK). However, the days of bumping into a backpacker and them almost certainly carrying a Lonely Planet seem gone. A wealth of up-to-date information can now be found on the internet. Apart from direct experience, my favourite resources when creating A Plan To Go itineraries include:
- Looking at itineraries of respected tour operators
- Skypicker’s search feature for flights which allows you to select from the United Kingdom to Anywhere and Anytime
- BusBud, Rome2Rio or various local equivalents for bus travel
- Seat61 for train journeys
- Direct Ferries
- Google reviews for accommodation
- Reading respected blogs such as Travel The World 4 Less
Despite all this compulsive planning, I always try to build in some flexibility. Sometimes the guidebooks and internet don’t adequately describe how wonderful a place is. I may want to stay a little longer so I build in flexibility by adding empty days to the itinerary.
Follow the pathfinder
Sometimes, though, listening to the little part of me that wants to go with the flow can have its rewards. I’ll wander off the beaten path and find myself alone in some magnificent, relatively unheard-of place. All I need to do then is silence the planner part of me that starts worrying about where to stay tonight. Being a pathfinder can allow you to unleash your inner child and discover places you would never have planned to visit. These impromptu journeys can often lead to new adventures, new friendships and lifelong memories.
About the author
Having travelled through over 80 countries, Olly of a Plan to Go has visited all 7 continents and worked in travel for almost 2 decades, Olly created APlanToGo.com to share his experiences. On his blog he creates free, highly-detailed itineraries for all budgets, with accommodation, transport and sightseeing recommendations, plus timetables, tips and links to book – perfect for those who like to travel independently. You can find APlanToGo on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
What do you think?
Thanks to Ollie for his guest post and raising this interesting travel debate. So, what do you think? Do you prefer to plan your travel or explore the unknown? What are the benefits of either and do you have any great travel resources you use?
I like to have a rough plan, but I also like to figure things out on the ground and go with the flow. Due to limited time, I tend to book hotels on hotels.com and transport but often leave the left to fate (which can result in rather unexpected outcomes!!)