So, here’s the thing. I love “accidental finds” – being open to trip tangents, going to random places, and enjoying them. But I also really like learning everything possible about a country before I go there. I’m not sure if this is a contradiction or not.
Before I went to Chile last year, I read travel and history books, followed blogs about expat life there, read plenty of Neruda poems, and watched some Chilean TV. I really wanted to get a sense of what it was like to live there. That’s also one of the reasons I stayed at an apart hotel in Santiago the whole time – I got to know the downtown area really well. I didn’t overplan – each day I decided what I wanted to do, some of which was on my itinerary and some of which wasn’t. But I definitely came there with plenty of preparation, and perhaps, a preconceived notion of the country that I perhaps shouldn’t have had.
I think I just really like to learn about other places. I’ve read about countries and regions I’ve never been to just because I didn’t know anything about them. And it’s also very nice to think about vacation while you’re slogging through the nine to five. But maybe it is a little weird. This year I’m thinking I might go to Nicaragua, but that probably won’t happen until December, which is when I usually take my big vacation. But I have already checked out a couple books on Nicaragua. I’ve brushed up on its history and I already have a general idea of what part of the country I’d like to stay in. Yes, I am prepared. Super prepared. But that doesn’t mean I won’t find random, accidental things while I’m there. And maybe I’ll have some insights into what I encounter while I’m there that I wouldn’t have otherwise.
What about you – do you just hop on a plane and see what you find? Or do you like to get into the minds of the locals and learn about the country beforehand?