You may have read my blog post in January about taking on the challenge of micro adventures rather than New Year resolutions this year. Now the weather is getting warmer and summer has finally arrived, I am feeling more motivated to get out and have some more adventures.
One of the things I find most important to being the best version of myself is making the most of the time I have available. There are 168 hours in a week and I want to ensure I have made the most of them. There is nothing more demotivating to me than feeling like I wasted a weekend. I want to ensure that I have squeezed every last second out of a weekend and really used the time wisely. To do this, I believe there is a certain element of planning needed.
I recently read a blog post by Alistair Humphreys (National Geographic Adventurer of the Year) that made me feel much better about planning, where he talked about the necessity of spending time to plan the adventures you want to have. Planning can be associated with being boring and rigid. I am really organized and love to have a plan, but adventure can often be more associated with spontaneity, so I was wondering whether I needed to try to be more spontaneous. The conclusion I have drawn is that it is healthy to find a good balance between the two.
I find that if I don’t spend any time planning what to do at the weekend or on week nights, I often don’t make the best use of my time. I might be lucky and get invited to something someone else has planned, but if not, I often feel like I don’t use my time as wisely as I could and this upsets me. On the other hand, if I plan every tiny element to within a inch of it’s life, there is no room to go with the flow and this can also be stifling.
The benefits of planning:
1) Make the best use of time
By creating a plan, even if it is quite high level, you can ensure that you make the best use of your time. It can be useful on a weekly or monthly basis to open your calendar and check what you have scheduled in and plan things for the free time you have. I find that if I do this in advance, I will tend to have more adventures organized than if I leave it to the morning I have free to decide what to do. Sometimes if I have not planned anything specific to do I can end up wasting the day pottering about! I hate that!
2) Ensure you know what there is to see
You can miss amazing things to do in the place you are visiting if you have not researched what there is to do there. Some of the best adventures I have been on have included elements of recommendations from others who have been previously. You can find great local restaurants from insider tips, you can also get advice on what to avoid that is not worth your time. It doesn’t mean you can’t also hunt out your own things to do as well, but at least if you plan you will be aware of the options and you can decide what suits you best.
3) You spend your time doing what you really want to do
There are lots of options of things to do in your spare time. If you don’t plan how you want to fill it you are leaving it up to someone else’s ideas or just waiting for last minute inspiration. This way you might find yourself with limited options, or going along on someone else’s adventure. This can also be fun, and if you find someone who loves doing exactly the same things as you, who is willing to plan it all, then you may have the perfect solution. I find that if I plan, I am organizing exactly what I really want to do, ensuring I am using my time as wisely as possible.
4) Save money
Organising your plans in advance can end up being much cheaper than last minute decisions. If you need to travel at the last minute, the transport and accommodation can be more expensive or you might come across last minute costs you could have avoided. I usually find that if I organize the big things in advance it is more cost effective. You might also be able to find special offers and deals if you research ahead of time. You can also find things to do for free or discount tickets available online.
5) Save time
You can waste lots of time if you have not organized yourself. Doing a bit of planning upfront can save you wasted travel time and help you make the most of your days. You can prevent the need to wander round for hours trying to find accommodation. You can ensure that you travel the fastest way and are not waiting around for trains or buses. This can be especially useful if you are just going for a weekend as it ensures that you have the maximum time for fun.
6) Enjoyment of the planning process
Depending on your personality type, and how much you enjoy or detest planning, the process itself can be enjoyable. It can be fun to research all the places you want to visit and things you want to do. It can be interesting to browse the variety of accommodation and decide what works best for you. You can find it satisfying when you have a trip finalised and it can get you excited for your upcoming plans and looking forward to the adventures ahead.
As much as I love to plan, and see all the benefits from planning, I am also up for taking things as they come, and being open to different experiences. Some of the best adventures can often be last minute spontaneous decisions. You can end up missing out on awesome things just because it isn’t in your plan! I have seen friends plan every last detail of a trip with no room for any spontaneity at all, which would feel a bit stifling for me.
My conclusion is that there are benefits of planning a schedule of activities to fill your calendar including travel and accommodation (especially when we are talking about microadventures in the evenings and weekends), but it can be good to leave some of the finer details to the last minute and go with the flow in the moment.
Let me know how important you think planning is for adventure and how you ensure you make the most of your free time in the comments below.