I’m not spontaneous, and that’s okay.

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.

Planned. Organised.


That night I slept the best I had in weeks, content in the knowledge that spontaneity isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay.



12 thoughts on “I’m not spontaneous, and that’s okay.

  1. This was a humbling read. I completely agree: it’s definitely okay to not be spontaneous. From travel experience, though there is less room to venture off or change plans when you have everything booked to a T, you can always find solace in having a bed to sleep in. I remember watching people door-knock and beg for accommodation from hostels that were fully booked, in Madrid. I was very thankful that I had organised my accommodation well in advance.
    Also, it’s usually cheaper to book in early, especially during peak tourist seasons.
    Well done on organising your Europe trip; wishing you happy and safe travels that will prove it was worth it!


  2. This is so (partially unfortunately) relatable Kate! I love how you talk about those feelings of stress around things that we are told are meant to be exciting (how interchangeable those feelings can be). Spontaneity really isn’t for everyone and is so often overrated. Just the thought of a colour coded spreadsheet is so calming and enviable.
    Hope you have a great time in Europe and can begin to feel excited at the prospect now that it’s suitably sorted. Send us all a postcard of pity while we rot away in Melbourne. Great read.


  3. I enjoyed reading this. I love to travel but hate getting organised, lucky for me my husband loves it. I get to travel and see everything but then when we get home I read more about where we just were and ask him why we didn’t do that or this…I just can’t win. But I still love traveling and letting him organise things.


  4. This spoke directly to my soul. I’ve also always felt somewhat ashamed of not enjoying spontaneity—I’m sometimes even afraid to admit that I love things to be planned and structured for fear of seeming boring or serious. But I totally agree with you, personally I am able to have a lot more fun when I feel organised and in control! Great post, thanks for sharing.


  5. This is a fantastic read! I do want to put in a word for us spontaneous travelers. For me, it’s not that I’m a free-spirited child of the wind (I’m pretty dang neurotic) I’m just shithouse at organising anything. Travel taught me that that’s ok, and that dealing with problems when they arise rather than planning around them in advance is an equally valid way to go about things, because pretty much everything turns out basically ok in the end. I think the big sponaneous vs. planned divide is what stresses someone out more: the idea of not being organised or the idea of doing the organising. I fall into the later camp. The thought of color-coded spreadsheets and having to research and email hostels months in advance fills me with a dizzying dread, but rocking up at places till I find a bed sounds like a fun – if high stakes – adventure. Love the gifs, great piece!


  6. I can’t imagine not planning a trip. Yet with so many thoughts on the subject and debates about spontaneity vs organisation it is always good to go with the heart.I can identify with the sleepless nights, anxiety and horror of anticipating when I do not set plans into motivation. They can always be changed, and the spirit is that they will change because nothing ever goes the way we think it will and that can be a huge blessing. You have given me some thoughts about ways to plan for future trips and confirmed that it’s okay to follow your instincts and colour coded spreadsheets. Safe trip and enjoy yourself.


  7. Wow, this article definitely hits home. Like many people, I have a tendency to put off stressful tasks until it grows into an all consuming monster. It’s strange how the solution is so simple and yet we take months to act on it. I’m happy to hear that you’ve conquered your stress about the trip and even happier that you wrote a kick-ass blog about it. I’m good with booking flights—but terrible at organising activities. Which is why I’m glad that my sister came with me to New Zealand last time, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to go on my awesome Hobbit tour.


  8. Thanks for sharing Kate. I am a very last-minute planner (of everything, including writing comments on blog posts!! 😬) but I actually don’t love being this way and it causes me quite a lot of stress, so the idea of having a colour-coded spreadsheet to help me on my journey sends warm and fuzzy feelings of comfort zinging through my cells. I think I need more spreadsheets in my life! Thanks for the inspiration and I hope you enjoy your trip.


  9. This was a very relatable review on spontaneity. I often feel that people assume being planned is a bad thing. That because you like to know where you are going and where you are sleeping you somehow don’t live life to the fullest.
    I agree. Spontaneity is not for everybody and thats okay.
    Thank you.


  10. Love this post, spontaneously is the best way to go about travel. Particularly on a continent like Europe, because it is set up for you to do exactly that. However I remember hearing a few stories of friends backpacking and having to do a night or two without anywhere to stay, because at peak times in places like Paris and Rome, many of the hostels book out.

    In my opinion, those are the stories that make trips memorable. We should want to be challenged, at least a little bit, when we are exploring a new country. And Europe is one of the safest places to do it – great post!


  11. Very realistic and insightful post. I must admit that I myself am a very spontaneous person, so this isn’t something I can personally relate to. But to see things the way other people do was very interesting! I can’t believe you made a spreadsheet, I wish I was organized and motivated enough to do that. (Most people only found out I was traveling after I had left the country).
    I was wondering how the trip went, did all your organising pay off?


  12. This was a great read. Travel and planning anxiety are very real things. I’m also a planner, especially when it comes to overseas travel. You gave such a great perspective on this, and through the use of humour, too. Great use of GIFS, they made piece even more engaging.


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