I’ve always wished that I could be the kind of person that is spontaneous and can just go with the flow. That I could be comfortable not having everything planned out for me. I thought that my solo trip to Europe next month would be a perfect chance to experience that kind of spontaneity.
Originally the trip was not supposed to be a solo one. Two of my close friends were going to be travelling with me. We’d been talking about it for months, and I decided to bite the bullet and book my return flights to London while they were unusually cheap a few months back. It was then that one of my friends decided that she’d rather go to Sri Lanka on a surfing adventure. And the other discovered that she couldn’t actually get the time off of work.
And so I had a return ticket to London sitting on my desk at home. And five weeks in Europe to fill with no one to please but myself. I could chose exactly where to go and how long for. I could chose the hostels. I could chose everything.
So much freedom.
So much stress.
I have this super healthy coping mechanism when it comes to stress. I avoid. When someone asks me about it I quickly change the subject. When I’m at home and I accidentally think about how much planning I have to do, I turn on Netflix.
And so I avoided planning this trip. And guess what? That was in no way helpful.
Eventually I caved and realised that I should probably book some kind of accommodation. And to my dismay I discovered the hostel that I wanted to stay at in London was booked out. No one to blame but myself there.
Did I learn my lesson though? No, no I did not. I continued to push all thought of my trip to the back of my mind and ignored the huge pit that grew in my stomach every time I was asked if I was excited.
Eventually it got to the point that I was losing sleep over the whole thing.
One day I was chatting to a friend of mine that was embarking on a trip a few months earlier than me. When I asked him what date he was arriving in London he replied with a casual, “I don’t know how I’m getting from Morocco to England yet so I guess it’ll depend on that.”
He was so relaxed, even when I asked, “Don’t you leave next week?”
He simply shrugged and told me he’d get there eventually.
He was so calm. So relaxed. So chill.
Now I was stressed for the both of us.
And so I spent the next few weeks feeling relief every time this friend posted on social media, and thinking about how a spontaneous loosely planned trip may not actually be for me.
One night, after having laid in bed for hours staring at the ceiling unable to stay still, I decided that I like things being planned. I like knowing where I’m going to be and how long I’m going to be there. I like knowing exactly how much money I can spend in each city and I like other people knowing where I am.
So that night I sat up and I got organised. Less than an hour later I had a colour coded spreadsheet on my computer and in the email inboxes of my close relatives and friends. It was complete with arrival and departure times and email and contact numbers for all of my accommodation.
It was all there in front of me.
That night I slept the best I had in weeks, content in the knowledge that spontaneity isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay.