Planning for Spontaneity

I love to travel.


My mother always said that her mother had “get up and go” in her blood.  Yet, I can’t remember my grandmother traveling very much.  I know she rode a train from San Antonio to Oklahoma once. I was thirteen before I ever saw her behind the steering wheel of a car.  I didn’t even know she HAD a license!  My mother would have loved to travel, but she didn’t have a driver’s license and she had a physical problem following some emergency surgery that restricted her ability to be spontaneous like that.  My parents were once invited to visit China but she couldn’t see herself being able to handle that.  Instead, when I was planning my trips, she would tell me to “put her in my pocket”.  She wanted to hear all about the journey when I returned. 


I got off to a slow start with my travels.  Until I was 20 years old, I had never traveled out of my home state of Texas.  In fact, I had not been more than 250 miles from home!  But I was determined to have adventures others were not.


To my family I may have appeared spontaneous but I assure you I am a planner.  For my first trip to Europe after college, I studied the high and low temperatures of all 11 countries I would be visiting.  I carefully calculated how long I could wear various clothing items to save space in the suitcase.


And now I own a converted camper van (Wanda) and travel the USA.  In the first six months, my wife and I took Wanda through 19 states.  Then we took a little break but now we are planning to add about 17 more to the tally.


As much as I would like you to think we are ‘those kind of people’, we can’t just walk out the door and drive away for a trip like that.  It takes a ridiculous amount of planning.  First of all, with no heat or air conditioning in the camper we need to travel where the weather is bearable.  Then it’s a matter of which national parks we want to see.  And while we are around X consider if we will ever be back there again.  If not, what else is nearby that we need to see?


I leave the meal prep and clothes packing to Jenni.  She knows what we need, how much room we have, and how far it will get us.  Trust me, she puts considerable thought into her decisions. 


I do most of the route planning, double checking if Jenni has ever stepped foot in a specific state so I know if we need to make a detour.  For example, this fall we will be crossing into Nebraska and Minnesota so she can check those off the life list.  I’m sure there are other reasons to go to Minnesota, but Nebraska?  Sorry Cornhusker fans.  But even when the plan just says “drive from Kansas City to South Dakota”, there is so much more involved.  We may have a general vicinity in mind for our night time destination, but what does that mean?  Will it be a Cracker Barrel? A Welcome Center? A church parking lot?  And what is there to see along the way?  I try to approach each route as if we will never take it again so I try to look for noteworthy stops.  Oh Look!  A monument marking the grave of the only person to die on the Lewis & Clark expedition.  (This is where I find out who is actually reading my blogs!)


In order to be spontaneous, we have several lists on the kitchen counter in various stages of completion.  We’re doing pretty good on the “Amazon Order List”, and have stricken quite a few jobs from the “Van Project List”.  But there’s still the “House Projects before we go”, “Outdoor Projects before we go”, and “Other”.  Will we get everything done before we roll out of the driveway?  Probably not, but we will go with the flow and do the best we can. 


The hardest part of planning all this spontaneity is that I get the itch and want to leave days/weeks before we planned.


Yeah, I got “get up and go” in my blood.


  • I’m so happy you are getting to do this. I think we are going to take a different mode of transpo-boat. We just got off a cruise and itching for the next. Be safe and I I a spot you need to see are you going to the West?

  • I believe you did get some of your grandmother’s “get up and go”, and I’m glad you did. Remember: there is no time like the present!

    Helen Ammons

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