Travel, Spontaneity and Comfort Zones

Emily Stamp gives us her perspective on spontaneity, planning and her comfort zones and how, despite not being spontaneous and not wanting to 'just live a little' (as others might say), this has not stopped her from travelling the world, getting valuable life experience and making memories.

Despite having a reasonably messy room, I certainly like order. I plan trips in colour- coded spreadsheets and then, every evening, I decide what I am doing the next day and in what order. I have to-do lists upon to-do lists (because you need one for each day, one for tomorrow, one for the week and one for the month right? Plus one for movies I want to watch and music to listen to and… well, you get the picture).  I like it when I can plan where and when I am meeting someone, even if it is just for the next day.

To be honest, even next-day plans in the evening can be a push for me. In a tiny town many argue that meeting up doesn’t need planning, but I need to mentally prepare myself for seeing people.  I say it’s the introvert in me, but some may be confused as to why I have never been the type of person to enjoy having people just turn up randomly. I admire friends who have open houses for people to just come and spend the afternoon, because my people-free time is much-needed and jealously guarded.

Spontaneity is something I shy away from. It’s big and bold, exciting and fearless (I mean what if your friend doesn’t have time for you and wants you to leave?). For me, spontaneity is meeting with less than 24 hours’ notice, it is reading a different book to the one planned or deciding to randomly treat myself.

The most spontaneous I have ever been is organising to go to Macau from Hong Kong for a day trip with a girl I had met the day before in my hostel room. Even then, I ensured that we had planned it in the evening, organised what time we were getting up and I was slightly aghast that we didn’t have a time for the ferry and were just going to turn up, nor did we have any sight-seeing plans until we got there. I admire others who travel spontaneously, who can just book a random ticket or turn up at the station and make an on-the-spot decision, but I am too much of a worrier for that. Being spontaneous isn’t a bad thing, it just doesn’t suit me.

However, not being spontaneous is sometimes seen as boring. I have been told to ‘live a little’ and just ‘go with the flow’ more times than I can count. Is it boring that I stick to my plans? Maybe. For me, wondering around a new city aimlessly to 'get a feel for it' is boring. Why do that when I have planned 4 spots to see and the restaurant I am eating in (armed with positive reviews from previous customers). I always include free time; normally spontaneously choosing a coffee shop to go into (does that count?). Excitement lies in my planning and executing those plans. I would rather organise a time to see you so that we have uninterrupted time, than have a rushed 20 minutes while we are both busy.

Everyone is different and you may be the type of person who lives for spur-of-the-moment decisions that have led to some of your favourite memories, but live considerately and try not to forget that others with you may not be the same.