5 reasons to ditch that checklist and be a true traveller

By Sarah Chua, 25 May 2018 3017

Written by Anywhr Traveller & Writer, Sarah Chua.

It has become almost routine – book air tickets, secure accommodation, ask around for recommendations, plan your travel checklist, get onto the plane and race against time to tick off every box before going home.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against this travelling method. In fact, I was that traveller. Spreadsheets were a part of my pre-trip routine, as I spent hours of research on travel blogs and sites, and meticulously arranged my trip itineraries in a manner that left little to chance. I also made sure that I insured myself with a yearly travel insurance plan, since I have completed three trips over the past six months and have planned for a few more upcoming travels. Not only does the yearly  travel insurance plan saved me the hassle of purchasing travel insurance individually for each trip, it provided me with the extra peace of mind that I’ll be well covered for my trips in the year. 

As I continued to structure my travel experiences around such lists, I started to see just how limiting my lists were, and my first trip with Anywhr only further affirmed this. I booked a Getaway trip and discovered my destination only at the airport, even filming the reveal on Instagram! I got sent to an island I never knew existed, and had such a great time exploring that I even extended my trip.
Spending that one week on a remote (but extremely safe) island with no itinerary, no checklist and no expectations, I learnt that the best travel experiences come when you don’t plan for them to happen. Now, here’s why you need to ditch that list:
1. You’ll interact more with the locals  
Sans checklist (and probably Google – but don’t cheat!), the next best way you can find out about what you can do at your destination would be to talk to the people around you! Strike up a conversation with a local whether it’s on the plane there, while you’re in a queue, or anywhere really! If that’s too daunting, start off by speaking with the crew at your accommodation for some ideas.
I personally like to ask them where I can find their favourite local dish. Not only might this score you an invite to hang with them, but you also pick up little insights that make for a more authentic travel experience, beyond touristy must-dos. At one of my previous guesthouses, a question on where the best drinking spots in the area were, brought me to an authentic hole-in-the-wall bar full of Japanese salaryman, having chicken heart yakitori [Japanese meat skewers] over sake [a type of Japanese liquor] – you really can’t get any more local than that!
2. You save time for better experiences
I bet that all of us have, at some point of time in our travel lives, been to a restaurant just because someone we know claimed that it was the best, or because it was oh-so-Instagrammable. Well, you know what isn’t as gram-worthy? The snaking queue stretching across blocks that would probably take up 2-3 hours of your precious travel time.
What I’ve come to realise is that most times someone’s must-try doesn’t always necessarily translate into the best experience for me. Nowadays, I either pop into the first restaurant that catches my eye (or nose!) or if I see locals streaming in and out of it. I’m proud to say that this has led to me some really affordable and hearty gems, surprising even my local friends, and the best part – no queue and barely any wait for your food!
3. You open yourself up to new things and begin to embrace spontaneity
With zero pre-trip research and thus no opportunity to second-guess any decisions, I found myself saying yes to things I normally wouldn’t have – such as riding a scooter for the first time ever, out 12 kilometres to a rustic seaside town, and then in search of a secret beach, hinted at in my Anywhr travelogue.

If I had my own way, I would have probably planned for pick-ups or charted out a route pre-trip that would have excluded the need to ride a scooter. But when such plans don’t exist, and when your guesthouse owner says to take a scooter because, one, that’s what everyone does and, two, it’s the best way of getting around, you get on a scooter and do it anyway.  
4. You create trip memories unlike anyone else’s
When you rely less on a one-size-fits-all generic travel checklist, you’ll find yourself seeking out things that are more in line with your own interests, rather than doing something just because everyone says you ought to do it or for the sake of it.  
On a recent trip to New Zealand, while three-quarters of my bus unloaded at a Lord of the Rings filming site, our driver asked those remaining if we fancied a short walk nearby. Since I loved hiking and I had to wait anyway, I said yes!

This supposedly-unremarkable short walk turned out to be one of the most picturesque moments of my trip! In fact, some of those who had gone to the filming site said they wished they had gone with us instead, because the site turned out so packed that their time there was mainly spent waiting around. (Back to my second point earlier!)  
5. You’ll be less stressed!
Given how routine and structured most of our daily lives are, you’ll find ditching that checklist incredibly liberating. Not only will you be less stressed without all that pre-trip research, on your trip, you’ll likely feel less obligated to, for example, cut short your time at a museum that you were really starting to enjoy, just because you already pre-booked tickets to a play starting in half an hour’s time.

I get it – travelling without a checklist can feel scary and seem reckless, spending that much money on a plane ticket, or using your limited vacation leave, and yet having nary a plan as your plane takes off. But you’ll realise that somehow, you will find things to do, places to eat, and sights you never thought you’d come across.
In fact, some days you might even wake up with no idea about how your day will pan out, but that’s perfectly alright, because being in another country is already a great experience in itself. You’ll soon realise that travel isn’t just about ticking off those boxes, but also being present where you are there and then, taking in the new surroundings, the smells, the sounds, hearing conversations in a language foreign to you, and even just enjoying the weather outside, whichever season it may be. 

With all that in mind, it’s time to leave the checklists only for your groceries back home, and venture into the unknown with only your personalised Travelogue and spirit of exploration. Let us help you get started now! 


Important Notes:
This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor.