Thailand Travel: Why Planning is Pointless

This article was originally posted on Pink Pangea.

This might sounds crazy, but personally, I think that struggling is good. Not all the time and not too much of course but putting some extra effort into things can teach us a lot about ourselves. My Thailand travel experiences definitely involve some struggling.

On my trip to Thailand, I travel on a budget. I don’t speak the Thai language. I don’t get many of the social rules in here. I share a sleeping space with other people. I share a bathroom. I eat Thai street food rather than food prepared in restaurants. I travel Thailand by bus and not by plane, which means that I spend many sleepless hours in uncomfortable positions, often in heat and without AC. Some people call this an adventure. But I call it struggling by choice.

I didn’t expect to get very sick in the middle of the jungle. I didn’t expect a group of rats to run toward me.

I was ready for some of these things before I left home but I wasn’t ready for all of them. I didn’t expect to get very sick in the middle of the jungle. I didn’t expect a group of rats to run toward me and make me scream like an insane person (because let’s be honest, screaming doesn’t help). I wasn’t ready to wear the same t-shirt for a couple of days because I ran out of clean clothing and there was no laundry service in the area. I wasn’t ready to deal with some unpleasant people in my dorm (because of course I thought that everyone would be friendly and nice). I wasn’t ready to climb a hill in terrible heat, pushing my bicycle by hand because I was too tired to continue cycling. I wasn’t ready for my mouth to burn like hell for an hour after eating a spicy dish.

So, I wasn’t ready for many things that I’ve experienced during my travels in Thailand. But I also don’t really think that you can prepare yourself for everything that will happen to you. What’s more, I know that there are more surprises to come.

Maybe it’s my personality or maybe it’s how I grew up, but I really like to be feel prepared. I like surprises but only the good ones (like most people). I don’t like things to take me by surprise, and I like to believe that I can prepare for everything in advance. But, I can’t. And it’s hard to admit.

As much as you try, you can never prepare for everything. I met other travelers who had planned out their entire trip–all of their hotels and flights were booked and they believed their trip to Thailand would all go smoothly. Well, it could probably go smoothly if they were traveling in Europe but because they’re traveling in Asia, I have my doubts.

As hard as it is to not plan, I realized that I had to let go of my old habits and accept the fact that I wouldn’t have full control over what would happen.

I’ve also met people who, like me, booked only one-way tickets and are pretty open to see what will happen along the way.  They just go with the flow. Well, guess what? They, too, will experience the unexpected!

You can’t really stick to any strict travel plans when you choose to travel to Thailand. Trip planning too much is not only pointless, but it also kills all the fun. As hard as it is to not plan, I realized that I had to let go of my old habits and accept the fact that I wouldn’t have full control over what would happen.  Sometimes you won’t know where you’ll sleep the next day, and that’s okay. Sometimes you won’t know how you’ll get from one place to another, and that’s okay too.

I’m still learning how to live with the stress of not knowing, and how to enjoy the present moment. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

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