the art of spontaneous travel

I’m a planner; an organizer with a spritz of OCD. It’s how I approach life, work and play. I like to park in the same spot, I put my coffee cups in a specific place, and I like my office in order (ask my staff). But I strive remain a flexible traveler, albeit in the confines of an American work schedule. With a hint of vacation in the air, I am already looking at the map in my mind and planning where to go next. 

greek cafe

cafe freddo timeout in Greece

My best travel companion Thao is my cohort in crime in this endeavor. Last year when I was living in Spain, I announced that I was free for Easter vacation. After some deliberation, we decided on a trip to Greece. In 2008, we chose Costa Rica. We’ve been planning trips together since we met in 2004, and this is the rhythm we’ve settled into:

November 10 (abridged):

K: Plans for Christmas?

T: No plans. U thinking somewhere tropical?

K: Somewhere not here.

T: TX –> New Orleans road trip?

November 13:

K: Vacation approved!

T: Game on!

Flights, done. Hotel, booked. This is as spontaneous as it gets in my world, folks. Often times I am tempted to research the hell out of an upcoming trip. I find a great deal of joy in the articles, the recommendations, and the stories of those who have gone before me. I like lists, I take copious notes.. the planning is half the fun. I’m the one spamming my travel companion with articles, blogs, photos, tweets and deals about our upcoming destination. 



My travel planning has evolved a great deal over the years. As an undergrad, I was making flight plans over breaks at school (AZ, TX), then I was traveling for conferences as a grad student (Chicago, Turkey) and trying to figure out how to stretch a lame US vacation schedule to capacity (14 days, embarrassing).

Last year in Europe I was blitzing Skyscanner with Destination: Everywhere and hopping all over the continent in 4-day sprints. What do you mean I have to work five days a week? No wonder Americans have such (insert problem here)! But that’s a gripe for another post.

I seldom think twice about travel plans once the vacation hurdle has been hopped. It removes the joy from spontaneity, but it still holds a thrill. As a chronic countdowner, I am always looking forward to the next great adventure: domestic, international, minor, epic or just plain elsewhere. I harbor a feeling somewhere in my soul that says You can pick up and go at any time. As Frances Mayes said, “my two favorite words are linked: departure time.”

So cheers to the East Coast holiday

and Gulf Coast new year

… may I discover the best po’boy and bury myself in beignets, in the best possible company.


2 thoughts on “the art of spontaneous travel

  1. Your travel-induced OCD sounds nearly identical to my own. I planned a Semana Santa trip to the French Riviera, and lord knows I’ve already spammed and annoyed the hell out of my travel partner. But like you said, it’s half the fun!


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