Our Travel Style (Or Lack Thereof)

Planning — Part II: First Days Are Free

Free to explore and discover our first full day in Sydney, we stumbled upon the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

We Plan for No Plans

From home to airport and airport to hotel, I always feel rushed and anxious. It begins the day before we leave as I’m assiduously checking things off of the mental “To Do” list, making sure that everyone and everything is taken care of, that we aren’t forgetting anything, that we have all tickets and reservations ready to go, that we have a clean house to come home to…

The day of travel is no better. It’s really just all go-go-go, trying to make it from point A to point B to point C…, without losing anybody or anything (including my patience and my mind) until we can finally settle our travel-weary bodies between the crisp clean sheets of a hotel bed.

With so much stress involved in the first few days of travel, the last thing we want to do on our first day of vacation is wake up to more of the same. So, we make no plans. Gaaassssp! While this may cause the skin to twitch and the pressures of anxiety to begin to build in many of you, I assure you that you can relax because it’s only partly true.

Our lack of planning really only applies to the first day or two of our journey, and that is, well, the plan. What happens after that, we actually put a great deal of effort into researching and deciding, and we can discuss that further in a future post.

Why It Works

The built-in day or so serves as a time to become more accustomed to new surroundings, to recoup from any jet lag, to explore the area, and to settle into life on the road. Plus, when we’ve never been to a place, it’s a great opportunity to relax and take some time to get to know it.

We familiarize ourselves with a new city by taking a walk (or a drive) to locate things like restaurants, grocery markets and pharmacies (often this is actually initiated by a need from hungry children or a forgetful adult), and to figure out how the public transportation system works. Sometimes we’ve been forced to explore the city because our lodging isn’t ready or because we want to stay awake and acclimate to the new time zone, but often our wanderings are simply born out of a desire to scout out the area and enjoy the day.

When you take a little time to get to know a new city, you’re more likely to have an idea of where things are and how they work as well as where to go and how to get there when you need anything from boo-boo strips and sunscreen to diapers and wine. Then, when it’s time to start seeing sights and getting to scheduled events and excursions, you’re more comfortable navigating the area and therefore better prepared and, most importantly, less stressed. (Which is not to say we aren’t or don’t get stressed, because, I mean, we’re parents…but that’s a whole other post.) The most fun, though, is finding the little things along the way, like shops, restaurants, and even artwork, that make a city unique.