The Importance of Planning for Spontaneity, or My Trip to Italy

This is a self-development personal post about my time in Italy. I loosely attempt to make it a post about why including flexibility into your schedule can lead to positive returns, but it is quickly derailed into a photo-blog of my travels in Italy.

I did not simply arrive in Italy. Flights were booked, and a rail pass was purchased (a mistake I am unlikely to make again) however, that was the extent of my planning.

Sure, there was a rough “what cities exist between my arrival airport and my departure airport”, Roma and Milano, respectively, however that was the extent of the planning. Or was it?

Truth be told, I’m a fiend for plans. Oftentimes I’ll be ticking over a plan in my mind, exploring the possibilities of this option or that route, wondering whether to make one choice over another, replaying a scenario which occurred last night, last week, last month. An endless struggle to discover the optimal decision graph. Naturally, I couldn’t merely venture into my travels plan-less, how … Barbarian!

Naturally, I couldn’t merely venture into my travels plan-less, how … Barbarian!

Instead, I planned to not have plans. I allocated budgets for “last minute” accommodation, I made sure that I didn’t need to book trains days in advance with my rail pass (Interrail Italy), and with the help of Hostelworld.com I was able to book a hostel with a few hours notice. The plan was to get to Roma (Rome), stay for a few days and then move on. Eventually I needed to make it to Milano (Milan) so unless otherwise convinced (it’s easy to twist my arm into an adventure), I’d keep heading north until it was time to fly home.

At this point you’re probably thinking what this has to do with anything, so allow me to clutch at straws for a moment.

At this point you’re probably thinking what this has to do with anything, so allow me to clutch at straws for a moment. I didn’t even make it out of Roma before all of my faux-plans had collapsed into a heap of discarded decisions. I had done zero research on the city, and ended up staying an extra day in order to make a visit to that bastion of evil some call the Vatican City and her Museums. Hundreds of years of pillage and plunder by the church, all on display, much as a veteran would shine his medals. That was the first of many last minute decisions I made in Italy. It was also one of the best decisions I could have made.

By integrating flexibility to my schedule, I was able to let spontaneity take hold, and subsequently reap the rewards of relaxed planning. As some of you are aware, I do the least amount of work on Fridays, as this osrc.dfm.io report will attest (Open Source Report Card). The reason behind this is that I believe in a four day work week, with the fifth day reserved for sprint meetings, planning the next week, tidying up the workspace, and planning an enjoyable and productive weekend. It is no secret that a happy worker is a good worker, so why not embrace the fact that virtually zero work is achieved on a Friday, anyway. Alas, here I am derailing my own tangent … Where was I? Ah yes, flexibility, one of those big words people like to brandish. Well, for me, embracing flexibility lead me to a much fuller, truer, and better experience on my trip abroad.

The lack of a Rigid Schedule enabled me to made decisions much easier …

Spontaneity afforded me the freedom to join a group of Americans on a hike, and experience the breathtaking views (and endless staircases!) of La Cinque Terre. I hadn’t heard of the five villages before, and as soon as I did, I wanted nothing more than to visit them. Flexibility allowed me to stay an extra night in Florence, and it was that night where I joined cahoots with the ragtag group heading to Cinque Terre. The lack of a Rigid Schedule enabled me to made decisions much easier, and that’s how this blog post links back to the real world (oh yes! This is happening). By removing rigidity from the process, or schedule, it leaves enough room to allow clear thinking without the overhead of additional concerns to the decision making process.

Allowing for flexibility also allows for creativity. Removing rigidity removes guilt for not following through on a plan, and it is without these encumbrances that a project (and a person!) can flourish. There is much to be said for enjoying an experience. Even more can be said about learning from that experience. Never stop learning.

There is much to be said for enjoying an experience. Even more can be said about learning from that experience. Never stop learning.

Here are some pictures I took while in Italy.

That’s it for now.

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One thought on “The Importance of Planning for Spontaneity, or My Trip to Italy

  1. Yes Ross planning is important, however ‘living in the now’ when you travel can be very rewarding. Nice photos. Pity about the horse meat though!

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