To Plan or Not to Plan

This blog entry was originally posted on July 30, 2003.

So everyone lately has been asking me, “How’s the planning going?”  Well, the short answer is that there isn’t much planning at all…

When I first had the idea of this trip, I planned like a madman.  I had an Excel document, and worked out a budget per week and a target city to be in every Sunday, and all that stuff.  I even started reading Lonely Planet’s South America On A Shoestring to figure out the more detailed day-to-day itinerary.

Then I read Doug Lansky’s Rough Guides book, First Time Around the World, and in it, he warns about overplanning.  Overplanning sets up too high an expectation, and you’ll only end up feeling down when stuff doesn’t go according to plan…which often happens in developing countries.  Other season travelers have seconded this notion, by word of mouth and in books; Rolf Potts, author of Vagabonding, even suggests to just buy flights along the way as it hits your mood. 

No guide should be treated like a bible, so I’m compromising.  While my flights are more or less set in stone, there are at least 3 months in between them for the wind to take me wherever.  I anticipate getting into random adventures as I just roam on and off the backpacker trail, always working towards my next airport departure city. 

I realized that when I was planning out a day-to-day itinerary, each page was short enough that I could just read as I travel along…no sense in cramming it all up front and locking myself to a routine.  Routines and schedules are what I’m leaving behind in the USA in the first place.

So the answer to “How’s the planning going?” is, it’s not really going at all.  My plane tickets are booked and are en route to me, my passport’s away to get extra visa pages in it, and my travel vaccination appointment has been made.  My first country Ecuador doesn’t require a visa, so I don’t have to worry about that.  Subsequent visas I’ll worry about in the neighboring country before I enter it.  I suppose the week before I leave, I’ll look up a hostel in Quito and book it.

I’ve quoted him before, and I’ll quote him again:

“I don’t know, I’m making this up as I go.” 
- Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark

Next entry: RTW People

Previous entry: Wheels In Motion

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Comments for “To Plan or Not to Plan”

  • Hey Erik—I had no intention of swinging over to the east coast before 2004, but serindipity is at play and basically because I have opted to ‘plan’ my journey flexibly—I will be arriving in NYC Aug 22-26. I am the pints and pool girl. Let me know if you wanna meet up…

    Posted by Kacey  on  08/17  at  09:20 PM

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This blog post is one of over 500 travel dispatches from the trip blog, "The Global Trip 2004: Sixteen Months Around The World (Or Until Money Runs Out, Whichever Comes First)," originally hosted by It chronicled a trip around the world from October 2003 to March 2005, which encompassed travel through thirty-seven countries in North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia. It was this blog that "started it all," where Erik evolved and honed his style of travel blogging — it starts to come into focus around the time he arrives in Africa.

Praised and recommended by USA Today,, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet's Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the "Top 100 Sites You Didn't Know You Couldn't Live Without" (in the travel category) in 2005.

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Wheels In Motion


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