The Joy of Traveling with No Plans

Take at least a month off and just go

David B. Clear


All images by the author.

Here, check this out:

  • Explosive diarrhea (a.k.a. Delhi belly, Montezuma’s revenge, or the Aztec two-step).
  • Car, sea, and camel riding sickness.
  • Being stuck with one’s face under someone’s sweaty armpit in a tiny bus with 279 other people, 44 chickens, and a goat.
  • Having to constantly lug around a backpack that smells and weighs like a wet poodle stuffed with bowling balls.

These are just some of the joys of cheap and long-term travel.

And yet, I love it. I really do.

What I don’t like so much, however, are short trips — trips that last only a week or two. And I especially don’t like it when those trips take me to “rich” countries.

And no, it’s not because I’m a philistine who can’t appreciate a Renaissance cathedral or because I envy the chiseled abs of armless naked dudes made out of marble who are loitering in museums. And neither is it because I prefer my meals with foodborne pathogens.

I mainly prefer cheap long-term travel because short trips to expensive places require a lot more planning.

And I hate planning my trips.

The problem with short trips

If you’ve never traveled long-term through much of the world, this might sound weird to you, but a two-week trip to, let’s say, France or Spain requires a lot more planning than a one-year trip around Southeast Asia.

And that’s especially true if you don’t have much of that mythical thing called “discretionary income” (a.k.a. money you can blow).

You see, for a trip that lasts a year, you cannot really make detailed plans. All you can do is sketch out a rough itinerary, stuff your backpack with toiletries, some clothes, anti-diarrheal butt plugs, and other essentials, and then board the plane, hoping things will turn out well.

And once you’re at your destination, you just improvise.

The good thing, though, is that improvisation on a long trip is easy. It doesn’t really matter if you miss a bus or train, if you wasted three days…



David B. Clear

Cartoonist, science fan, PhD, eukaryote. Doesn't eat cats, dogs, nor other animals. 1,000x Bottom Writer.