Being a good planner and well organized are not prerequisites for travel. They might help but having tendencies toward disorganization (I call it "not overly compulsive") and late-in-the-game planning ("spontaneous") shouldn't keep you home.
I was reminded of this as I was leaving Atlanta for D.C. yesterday. I was sitting in a hotel restaurant downing a quick breakfast when a fellow travel writer came in. (We had both attended an SATW travel writers meeting.)
It was about 7:50 am. I told him not to bother joining me as I was about to leave to catch my flight. He told me not to worry, he didn't have time to sit down. He, too, was in a hurry and just grabbing a bagel to go.
I mentioned I was worried the MARTA trains wouldn't run as frequently on Sundays. (Something I hadn't thought of until that minute).
He reported back that two lines run every 20 minutes on Sundays, meaning there would be a train of some sort arriving every ten minutes. Wow. I hadn't thought to look at the train schedule.
He asked me what time my flight was. I said 9:45 am. He looked at me aghast. I asked him what time his was. 11 am. And he was going to be leaving sooner than I was.
Oops. I got up and dashed to my room, where I still had to gather my stuff and check out.
Okay, I run toward the last minute. Like a reporter on deadline. Which I have been.
And I don't always fully research places. Or look up train schedules.
That means that sometimes, I miss things I wished I'd known about. Sometimes I miss trains or planes. Often I travel last minute because I don't like to plan ahead. It seems as soon as I book something, I get a better offer!
And that can mean things I'd like to do are booked. But it's just how I'm wired. I love to travel but I do it in my own haphazard, come-what-may style.
Having to operate this way would drive some people bananas. But, see, when I go solo, I don't drive anyone crazy and I don't have to apologize or explain.
Funny, though, because I'm a travel writer, people
often think I'm some kind of travel wiz who's got everything under
control and knows every last detail about where I'm going and what I'm
doing. Nah. Mostly I'm the "I'll-figure-it-out-eventually" type. It tends always to work out.
My main point being, travel because you want to see places, try things, taste new foods, see new cultures. Don't worry how "skilled" you are at the process. Don't panic that you can't nail down every detail. But also understand you need to be ready to roll with whatever happens.
It's true that if you're "not good" at travel you might miss a flight or an important event you wished you'd known about. But who knows what you'll discover "by accident." Perhaps, as Robert Frost says in "The Road Not Taken," that discovery will make "all the difference."
[More on Atlanta in upcoming posts. And, btw, I made my flight with time to spare.]
Photo: By Ellen Perlman. Roy Lichtenstein's House III, High Museum.Watch Mai Brai's video showing the optical illusion of Lichtenstein's House III as you walk past.