Travelling makes me feel like a kid. Looking at my new surroundings in awe. Running around with no sense of direction.
Playing games too: trying to decipher the puzzling language around me, attempting to understand the unwritten rules of my destination, and being the target of Spot the Tourist.
But when I’m on the road, there is one particular part of childhood I try to practice.
It’s not basic arithmetic. That’s too advanced for me.
Instead, it’s a child’s approach to the day:
The practice of disregarding plans.
To me, exploring a new place is a great excuse to appreciate the novelty of the moment. And when I force a detailed itinerary on myself as I arrive into a new city, I feel like I’m inviting stress. Not only that, I feel like I’m offending my destination by distilling it into a simple checklist.
I have to-do lists when I am at home. And to me, it doesn’t make sense to do the same when I’m travelling. I can lose the stiff shell of routine.
I understand that research is necessary. Research allows one to understand what is available, and what to avoid. But there is a part of me that says: wouldn’t it be great if I was surprised to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris?
Travel can be instinctive and spontaneous. Because being in a new city with no plan is the perfect opportunity to experience a unique kind of freedom.
With a mix of environment, people and senses, a new place welcomes surprise on its own. Serendipity is bound to happen if you lose yourself in this boiling pot of stories, and chance encounters.
You might share the same perspective on travel. But if you don’t, I invite you to spend a day in a new place letting go of your plans, and letting your senses lead the way instead. Step outside, and start walking without a destination.
Smell the fresh bread across the street, and eat at the bakery. Your nose will not let you down.
Stop and listen to a free concert you heard a few blocks away. Linger for an hour.
Catch a glimpse of green, and go to the park. Have a picnic.
Or just sit, pause, and listen to your new surroundings.
By following your instincts instead of a curated guide, you can start creating your own, unique relationship with a city. You can read all about a particular place beforehand, but you won’t know how you feel until you get there.
When there is such an abundance of places to see in a city: parks, restaurants, and museums, you can relax knowing you won’t get to see every possible landmark. Finding your taste for travel is the same as discovering your own taste in art, music or film. Out of all the choices, you find what attracts you.
I also encourage you to ask a human, not Google. Avoiding a place because it doesn’t have five stars is limiting, and you might make a new friend while taking risks eating food you’ve never heard of before.
Travel is an opportunity to get familiar with uncertainty, and to find your own way to play in a new city.
And if I really want to feel like a kid again, I take any chance I can get to play.
Travel is creative.