I’m going to come clean: I don’t actually get lost all that often…
collective gasp crickets.
It’s not that I don’t get lost, it’s that I don’t let myself get lost very often. I’m a meticulous mapper, a fervent believer in GPS and Google Maps. My discomfort with breaking timelines and travel plans verged on pathological.
In spite of all that, I’ve found that some of my favourite experiences travelling have been when I (and my travelling companions) go off-script. An unplanned side-trip once brought me to Durango, Colorado, a town I loved as soon as I got out of the car. Getting a little lost in Brooklyn looking for Vinnie’s Pizzeria led to my partner and I grabbing cheap pints in a heavy metal bar, festooned with metal memorabilia (like the neon Judas Priest sign, below), screening Iron Maiden’s Flight 666 concert documentary.
On the flipside, I’ve found that trying to stick to rigid timetables and directions leaves me stressed out and emotionally drained. This may not be a big revelation for anyone else, but when I realized it (or rather, when my partner pointed out the cause of my travel stress), I had something of a reckoning.
So, back to “Dave Gets Lost”.
It’s not that I get lost and that that’s a problem. It’s that I’m embracing the idea of getting lost; embracing the unexpected. For our trip to China, for example, my partner and I laid out a pretty basic framework: We’ve got our flights into Beijing booked, our return flight from Hong Kong booked, and trains/flights for travelling between cities. A few hostels need to be booked, but for most of the trip we’ll be staying with friends. And while we have little lists of things that we can do and sights we can see in each city, very little is set in stone; we’ll do the things that strike our interest in the moment, and see where it takes us.
Show me what you’ve got, world.