How not to plan your summer break

Publication date
Friday, 1 Jul 2016

Do you love to plan for all eventualities? Are you anxious about uncertainty? Our student blogger Jesse Zondervan suggests you go against your instincts and enjoy the freedom of spontaneity.

“You haven’t booked a hostel for Christmas yet?”

Amy, my travel guide, is aghast at my oversight. We’re on a train heading for the Whitsundays, one of Australia’s most popular holiday destinations.

This accurately reflects my attitude towards planning at this time during my travels. I’d been on the road for a month and I was in travelling mode.

Especially if you’re an international student, you might wonder how to spend your two months of summer holiday in Australia. I know I was quite worried about my lack of concrete plans before I left. Here I give you some of my insights.

Oh, and don’t worry, I got a bed in one of the hostels during Christmas.

My friends would describe me as organised and good at planning. But before I left I had no more than five weeks planned out for the nearly three months of travelling ahead. The excitement of arriving at a new place and planning something to do that day or the next is part of the feeling of freedom during travelling.

Booking a trip from Adelaide to Darwin a week before its departure gives a feeling of power. Deciding I’d seen enough of Sydney and taking the bus the next day was freeing. It’s about finding and responding to what excites you: this also happens to be a key way to steer your career in the right direction.

That doesn’t mean there’s no planning involved at all though. I made a list of things I wanted to see and researched my options for travel. I just didn’t book or finalise everything. Greyhound for example has a flexible pass which allows you to travel whenever you want.

Planning along the way gives you another significant advantage: you can use the knowledge and opinions of people you meet along the way. Often I heard about places to visit while talking to someone in my hostel or by visiting the local travel office.

Think three months is a long time? Having a long stretch of time to fill seemed daunting while I was figuring out what to do at the desk in my room at home, but once I was out there, I kept discovering more things to add to my to-do list.

One final bit of advice from me is make sure you document your travels. I don’t mean taking pictures of every single thing, but writing your experiences down. You could take a travel journal or write a weekly blog post (most hostels have wifi nowadays). When I look through my writing, I often notice stuff I have already forgotten after two months.

Travelling is about freedom and discovering what excites you. Remember that no budget is too small for this. All you need to do is start your journey, with only a little bit of thought beforehand. If ever again I’m left to my own devices, I wouldn’t hesitate to travel in this same way.

Jesse’s got a personal weekly blog which includes his activities during the summer in Australia.