Along with only a backpack, we also made it a goal on our last trip to Europe to have absolutely no itinerary, agenda or strict schedule. It was extremely liberating, stress free and I felt like I had all the freedom in the world to do whatever I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. I didn’t have a time schedule of when I needed to meet a tour group or leave for the next city, if I wanted to stay longer to see something that I stumbled upon, I did. If I didn’t like someplace, I could leave. I made it a point to take the time to wonder into every shop I found interesting and around every corner that sparked my curiosity instead of just rushing from sight to sight.
Travel should not be an exhausting, stressful job with a jam-packed itinerary. I have learned this the hard way and gradually worked up to my most recent agenda free method of travel. It is important to have a skeleton layout for your travels, but give yourself the freedom to choose to do things or not do things depending on how you feel that day. You have no idea how you are going to feel on your trip when you are at home booking it 8 months prior. For example, when we went to Czech Republic we had such a packed itinerary that by the time our last pre-booked tour of the trip came, I would have paid NOT to go. We were exhausted and ended up eating the cost.
More than anything, it’s important to remember that whether you go with a tour or do it on your own, it’s never going to work out absolutely perfectly. Sometimes a tour is a better option, sometimes it’s not.
There are downfalls to all ways of planning a trip. You may be doing a day trip yourself and get on the wrong train and have to take a 2 hour detour. You may be on a tour and the group spends half the day at a museum that you didn’t care to see but is part of the tour agenda. Just remember, it’s all part of the travel experience so don’t get too frustrated. You never know if you’ll end up finding a sight you didn’t know about on that 2 hour detour, or meet an interesting local at that “boring” museum.
In response to: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/04/15/street-photography/