He Said/She Said: Planning on the Fly

He Said/She Said: Planning on the Fly

What if you set out on a trip around the world with no definite plans, how would that affect where you go and what you do?  Leaving the States headed from Vietnam west to India…the plans started changing within days of leaving.


India, we were headed there, right?  Then onto Australia, possibly to work in 2012?  Skipping Japan and South Korea?  Hmm, those plans lasted a few days.  First it was finding out about a good friend’s wedding in Indonesia in November 2011.  It took us minutes to figure out that India had to wait, a Bali wedding was more important.  So we started looking for airfares to China.  Late one night I received an email about an AirAsia faresale with flights to Hong Kong for $60 plus taxes and baggage.  Within minutes I found two seats from Bangkok to Hong Kong for $100 each on June 1.  That was that, we were heading north on June 1.  Filling in our schedule, we found another AirAsia sale taking us to Myanmar for $80 roundtrip with taxes and baggage.  Cool, we found out we’d be heading to Myanmar for about a month.

As leaving for Myanmar approached we found out that getting the China visa we need in Hong Kong may not be possible.  For several days we pondered what to do, LOCAVORista fretted and I started shopping.  In planning this trip we planned to stay in developing and inexpensive nations, skipping South Korea and Japan, both destinations I have always wanted to go. Actually, I have a stranger relationship with Japan.  I have been there 26 times, but never been there.  I stared at immigration in Narita, thinking one day I would cross the line, but each time I headed out to my gate to Singapore to visit family or back home.  Late one night in Krabi, Thailand I checked fares from Hong Kong to Tokyo for the umpteenth time that day.  I hadn’t found a fare less than $700 one way, but suddenly I was staring at a $294 Delta roundtrip fare.  Then I tried Hong Kong to Tokyo to Seoul 3 weeks later and the price didn’t change.  I went and grabbed my credit card and told the wife.  Interrupting a conversation with her parents, she pleaded, “can this wait five minutes?”  Believing that when we got married I became legally obliged to take a timeout once weekly, I waited five minutes like a three year old.  Good to her word, five minutes later she finished her call, we discussed and I hit buy (I had pre-entered all the information).

This is how I love to travel, in fact this is how I love to shop, as Baron Rothschild purportedly said, “buy when there’s blood on the streets.”  The best deals in life come when you are open to buying anytime, the best travel experiences come when you are ready to go wherever, the best memories are from those nights you stayed out later than normal.  Honestly, at the beginning of this trip we couldn’t get to Tokyo cheaply, a horrific natural disaster, has changed that.  I know LOCAVORista prefers knowing where we’re headed, but taking a trip by planning on the fly, sure makes me a happy boy.  What will happen next?  I don’t know, that’s why you should stay tuned!


Planning on the road is tough, but planning before you leave is even more difficult because you can’t predict what’s going to happen along the way.  When we set out on this trip we had a rough idea of what we wanted to see when, but no tickets were bought or hotel rooms booked. Since we left our plans have changed constantly.  We find airfare sales, we hear about a must-see location from another traveler or we get an invitation to an Indonesian wedding.  I enjoy the flexibility we have created to be able to take advantage of all of these sales and invitations, however I also like to weigh my options.  If we go to one place will that mean skipping another?  If we take advantage of this incredible airfare will we simply find an even better offer next week?  What is there to see in this new place and how long will it take to see it?

When these great offers come our way there is usually little time for questions, only time enough for decisions.  For anyone that knows me they are very aware of my indecisiveness. Traveling with thinkCHUA there is no room for indecision, we must act immediately.  I have always considered myself a very adaptable person, but it’s tough to constantly change your plans on a whim and not ever really know where you’re going.  So, when I think we have a new itinerary set I start reading guidebooks, scouring the internet and chatting with other travelers about what to see and do.  You have to remember I don’t want to miss anything, so fitting it all in requires lots of planning on the fly.

thinkCHUA is always happy to wander and see what he sees, but I hate finding out later that I’ve missed something great once we have left a place.  I also enjoy the anticipation planning for a new destination brings and love it when a well-executed plan leads to the perfect day.  I agree with thinkCHUA that the best things come spontaneously, but with no plan at all you often miss those hidden gems.  While I will always encourage any traveler to let go of their expectations and take advantage of the fare sales as they happen.  I still standby that a little bit of foresight and planning on the fly will go a long way.

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» Donna :
May 26, 2011

Oh, it is finding that happy medium, isn’t it? If I were in your shoes (at my age) I would be feeling that same “don’t wanna miss nuthin'” idea. But you’re both young … you will have opportunities to go back. And while there’s an argument for seeing everything you can possibly see, there’s a real comfort in returning to a place, even more than once, because you want to see it … or see it again. My “other home” is always on the list of places to return to, at the expense of not seeing something new … it’s like comfort food, I guess. Enjoy each day … and remember that you could live to 1000 and you’d never see everything … so relish what you do see and save the rest for next time! They say you’ve met an old person when they have more memories than dreams … I’m still working on my dream trips … even though I have some terrific memories as well! Stay safe! Anxious to start hearing live reports from you both again!


LOCAVORista Reply:

Donna, I totally agree with you about the comfort of returning to a place. Bangkok has become our home away from home for the last six months and we love coming back. Now that we are in Bangkok for the last time for probably a long time it will be weird to say “goodbye.”

» Mom A :
May 26, 2011

Good thing your Dad is retiring! June 14 is the party! It seems we are having spontaneous opportunities flying at us. From one perspective, we have more time than money so being judicious about the cost of opportunity. On the other hand, a fire sale on a Semester at Sea slot is enormously tempting and we sure enjoyed our last “fire sale” trip to China! by the time you hit Hong Kong we will know whether we will be “at sea” from the end of August until the middle of December. Pretty tempting to see Casablanca, Ghana, Cape Town, South Africa, Mauritius, Chennai, India – Katie’s favorite place, Penang, Malaysia, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong/Shanghai, Kobe/Yokohama Japan. Don’t worry, we won’t loose site of New Zealand – but gosh, there’s time between now and then!

Waiting to hear about the beauty of Myanmar, hear your voices and see your faces!

Love and safe travels!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Mom, we also find ourselves with more time than money, especially with the addition of “expensive” countries such as Japan and South Korea. But, we’re looking forward to seeing you guys in New Zealand!

» Adrianne Gammie :
May 28, 2011

Wow, I can’t wait to see you guys in Jakarta, I get giddy just thinking about it! It means so much to Tom and I that you’re trying to fit our wedding into your travel plans… thank you. Your friendship is absolutely priceless. Tom and I are really looking forward to sharing the occasion with you. I can’t wait to hear more of your travel stories in person!

LOCAVORista Reply:

Adrianne, we are really looking forward to Jakarta too, it will be so much fun to see you and Tom! We wouldn’t miss it!

» dad/bka :
May 30, 2011

Sunday afternoon and 3-4 frustrating attempts later to communicate via the phone…..amazing that Bangkok is that “far behind”……but it is good news you survived Myanmar……….we decided against semester at sea, but had a pretty intense 24 hour discussion……too expensive…….still thinking we will shoot our wad in New Zealand, if we can schedules work…..looking forward to motorcycle trip with Blanks too Mackinac Island, remember when you thought that was an adventure?!?!?…..my how things change…..got your mom on a 7-8 mile bike ride today….she survived and did not tip over…..this is good…….great fun at twins game last night….there terrible, but we WON!!…….i vote for spontainaity ……….be safe …….love dad

LOCAVORista Reply:

Dad, I will try calling again tonight (Sunday). Bangkok internet drives me crazy! Can’t wait to hear about semester at sea opportunity, even if you didn’t take it and start planning for New Zealand!

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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