When I stepped off the very first flight of my travels, I was well prepared. I’d decided to start my adventures in Europe to see how I’d fare out there on my own and when I landed in Dusseldorf, I had my Lonely Planet Guide to Germany, a phrase book, comprehensive travel insurance and reservations at various hostels to see me through the first month. That was almost four years ago, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned since then, it’s that wingin’ it works.
I’ve had some amazing adventures and done things I never thought I was capable of (some of which I could never tell my mother about!) and almost all of my most memorable experiences have come about spontaneously, from just seizing the chance to do something unusual and by saying ‘Yes’ to anything that came my way. I can safely say that meticulous planning is the death of adventure.
I didn’t realise I really had this philosophy of travel until I arrived this morning in Adelaide. When I last wrote, I was making my way along the Great Ocean Road on Australia’s south coast with a loose plan of ending the trip here and staying for a while. I’d anticipated that my next blog would be about what I found in Adelaide, who I met, and anything I’d recommend to anyone planning to venture to South Australia’s capital. But, shortly after driving into the city, I returned Roo (my hire car, you have to name them) at Adelaide Airport, grabbed a coffee and a bite to eat at Dreamy Donut (well driving is hard work, I’d earned a sugar hit!) and sat down to check my email. That’s when the penny dropped that wingin’ it really is for the best.
When I logged into my email, I found a message from two great girlfriends of mine from Wales who’ve written to say that they’ve booked a round the world trip and will be in New Zealand next week for eight weeks – would I like to join them for a while?! The thought of travelling with my friends made me a little emotional; homesickness rarely gets me anymore, but oh boy, when it does, the temptation to just book a flight home is intense.
Anyway, now I don’t need to because my mates are heading my way. If I’d made plans of my own, if I had a travel itinerary to follow, I wouldn’t have been free to spend the last hour searching for cheap flights to Auckland to meet them. However, because I’ve become a dab hand at just wingin’ it, this time next week I’ll be back at Adelaide Airport for another Dreamy Donut (it’d be rude not to), waiting to board my flight. A few years ago, I would’ve been rushing to the book store for a Lonely Planet Guide to New Zealand, but now I’m just going to see what I discover when I get there. At the moment, all I know about the country is that it’s split across two islands, that the Lord of the Rings was filmed there, that New Zealanders are very good at Rugby and that they don’t like to be mistaken for Australians. I wonder what I’ll discover just by wingin’ it?
For now, I’m off to Annie’s Place Backpackers to spend a week exploring Adelaide city. I’ll report back on what I find, but in the meantime, if you have any suggestions for things I really should see in the land of the kiwi, let me know. Personal recommendations are always appreciated and I’ll see everything I can – just as long as I don’t need to book in advance!