Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Debate: Research vs Wingin’ It

Kathleen Broadhurst

Mostly here on Travel Vicarious we post about things we are doing, but today I’ve got something a little different. This is a question directed at our traveling audience, assuming you’re out there. Shall we… debate?

There are two types of travelers, those who plan and those who don’t. Or something like that, run with it. It’s often a trifle more complicated than that but we can say that these are two distinct travel styles that a traveler may embody throughout their travel careers. The same traveler may change styles depending on their destination, their budget their interest, their age or travel experience. But of the travelers we’ve encountered people tend to favor one over the other.

For me I prefer to not plan a trip, half the fun of it is seeing where you end up and how. Now certainly there have been times where I wished I had read a few more books about a place before getting there, as a result of not planning I have on occasion been very close to very famous places and missed them (cough, cough, Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, cough),but I’ve brushed it off figuring if I didn’t know enough to go, than more for next time. However that being said, I do feel that understanding the history of a country is really important to understanding what you are seeing and the countries that I have felt most connected to I knew the most about. Also countries that I have known quite a lot about before a trip usually are more anticipated.

I have found though that having no knowledge, other than rudimentary, about a location has allowed me in some cases to have truly amazing personal experiences unaffected by my desire or need to ‘see something’.

So here’s the question, beyond “which one are you”, when do you plan a trip? When do you wing it? Why? What influences you to research a destination or to just show up? How has either way worked for you in the past?


  1. If it is the first time I'm going somewhere, I like to read the travel books etc and get the lay of the land to be sure I see the highlights. If I get to go back, then I like to wing it. We traveled every winter when we first moved here but alas, all good things come to an end.

    Happy St. Patricks Day.

  2. you guys know I am a planner, but there is such a thing as OVER PLANNING. sometimes i stress myself out with MUST see places and MUST DO things, that i don't get to really relax and take it in. So i think it depends on what you want out of your trip, if it's a break where you want to just veg I say go with it. Otherwise probably a happy medium is the best..