“And so onwards…along a path of wisdom, with a hearty tread, a hearty confidence…however you may be, be your own source of experience.”
~Friedrich Nietzsche, Human, All Too Human: A Book for Free Spirits
Two years ago, Herb and I put a deposit on a cruise in 2023 that would take us round-trip from Tokyo to cities on several islands in Japan. Many months later, we made our 2024 plans – a cruise from Hong Kong to Bangkok and before heading home, a flight to Siem Reap to explore a long-time top-of-the-travel-wish-list destination, Angkor Wat. These were the days of post-pandemic travel planning, when Asian countries had not yet opened their doors. We were hopeful – after all, this was two years out – and happy to have our future travel plans in place.
Except that I never seem to be able to book something and then set it aside in an imaginary folder called “don’t think about this until (fill-in-the-blank) date.” Truth be told, I’m always thinking about it.
Fast-forward to earlier this year. January 11th, to be exact. I was perusing cruise destinations and ran across an itinerary I’d never seen before: Tokyo to Bangkok, November 2023, visiting many of the same places as the two cruises we had booked. Apparently, the original itinerary had been modified from its starting point in Hong Kong because of post-pandemic delayed opening concerns there.
The revised route was incredibly appealing and gave me an idea. What if we merged the trips we had booked into the new cruise? We’d purchased refundable airline tickets for Japan – the days of low-cost refundable tickets now seem to be a thing of the post-pandemic past – which we could modify to include the new Tokyo start date as well as the return trip from Bangkok. Our cruise deposits also could be transferred to the new itinerary. Not only would it be a tremendous cost savings, but with the exception of a few nice-but-not-high-priority ports, we’d be visiting every place we’d hoped to see, including the post-cruise land trip to Angkor Wat.
Herb was as intrigued as I was with the new itinerary, and we set plans in motion. We let go of where we thought we would be traveling this fall, changing our mindset from Japan to Japan and Southeast Asia. Once we made the decision, the trip began to take shape. Changes with airline tickets, the cruise, tours and excursions fell into place fairly easily, confirming our belief that this just might be the right thing to do.
There is something about reevaluating our options that has created a renewed excitement about where we are headed. It almost feels as if we’ve crafted a custom itinerary – something special just for us. Every place we visit will be somewhere we’ve never traveled, a new destination to discover and explore and maybe even fall in love with.
It’s often easier to keep plans the way they are. To avoid the inconveniences of change and uprooting things that are already in place. To play it safe, in a way. But this experience has confirmed my belief that it’s more than okay to keep dreaming and scheming even when initial plans have been penciled in. You never know what you might find when you keep looking. You never know where another path may take you.
And now more than ever, I’m keenly aware of the importance of those simple, but powerful, words.