The un-check-list traveller

I am not a bucket-list kind of person. I do not have lists of things to do before I die, must-see vacation destinations, or challenges to tackle.

I like working towards accomplishments, but often find more satisfaction in the doing than in the completing. As I move farther from the A-typer I used to be, I’m happier being absorbed in a moment. Instead of thinking about what happens at the end, I’m learning to let myself be part of the process and stop devoting mental energy to stressing about what might/should/could happen next.

Most of the incredible and memorable moments in my life happen when I’m not looking for them. I don’t see the wonderfulness coming and couldn’t possibly plan for it.

Our recent vacation to London, Paris, and Munich was mostly without checklists. The things we really wanted to do (eat at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London, climb the Montmartre hill, drive the Autobahn), we didn’t need to write on a list to make sure they’d happen. We obviously needed to plan for the trip, but didn’t need to create false pressure to accomplish things while on vacation.

That’s my problem with bucket-lists: if something is that important, it’s going to get done regardless of being on a list and the list itself shifts emphasis to ticking off items rather than experiencing life and allowing the universe to unfold. Checking something off a bucket-list seems like getting a present that you specifically asked for; it’s nice, but somehow less special. I’d rather go list-free and collect experiences in a way that seems more like getting that perfect present you didn’t even know you wanted; the surprise makes it all the more delightful and special.

The most incredible parts of our trip were amazing experiences I didn’t see coming. Sitting on the grass drinking cider in Greenwich. Playing foosball at a pub in Finsbury Park. Sliding into a pew for mass at Sacré-Cœur in Paris, while my husband sat on the steps and got to see the astonishing synchronization of vendors in front of the basilica scooping up their goods as the police approached and settling back into hawking as soon as the cops left. Getting caught in a thunderstorm after dinner at a brasserie. Making French toast with Canadian maple syrup in Munich. Chatting in German with an incredibly nice church lady before lighting a candle for an ailing relative. Stumbling upon an excellent family-run Bavarian restaurant and finding the best beer of the trip on our last night.

None of these experiences would have made a bucket-list, but they were what made the trip really great. They were unforeseen and un-plan-able… which made them all the more wonderful!

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One Response to The un-check-list traveller

  1. Andrea says:

    Nicely put, Laura! 🙂 I agree. I’m often caught out by people when, after visiting somewhere, they ask didn’t you see so-and -so? My answer is usually no because, despite it possibly having been my original destination, I got caught up in wandering and getting lost along the way. As you’ve highlighted here, that’s when you see and experience all the things you never would have otherwise.