Planning makes me happy.
Before I left on this trip, I wrote about the perils of being a planner. I wrote about how I would try to be more spontaneous on this trip. How I would try to not plan so much.
Although it may not be apparent to all of you, I am actually quite proud of the extent to which I have improvised over the last several months.
For example, when things didn’t turn out as I anticipated with my homestay and volunteer program in St Petersburg, I got nervous about my plan to do the same program in Moscow. As a result, I cut my time in Moscow in half, stayed an extra five days in St. Petersburg once the homestay ended, and added in a few days in Veliky Novgorod on my way to Moscow.
I made a detour to Poland over the holidays. I cancelled plans to visit Krakow when I wasn’t feeling it and stayed in Warsaw for a week longer than planned.
I showed up at the bus station in Minsk to find a bus to Grodno without booking ahead of time. Believe it or not, I had never done that before (confession: I probably wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t already know that the buses ran hourly so if I didn’t make it on one, the wait for the next one wouldn’t be long).
But while many people get a rush out of spontaneity and savor flexibility, not knowing how I am getting from point A to point B and where I will stay when I get there stresses me out. I like the security of reserving accommodations and booking train or bus tickets in advance.
I am happiest when I have plans.
One day while I was in L’viv recently, I spent an afternoon making plans for the rest of my time in Ukraine and into Moldova. I had to switch things up unexpectedly when I learned the train I wanted to take to Kolomyya a few days later was already sold out. I could’ve taken the bus instead, but I was warned it would be cold and uncomfortable at this time of year. The bus station was also far out of town so I would have had to take a taxi and I wouldn’t be able to book ahead of time. It made me nervous.
So I devised Plan B.
I got online and found a place to stay in another town called Ivano-Frankivsk that is in between L’viv and Kolomyya. Then I hit the train ticket office again (conveniently just two blocks from my hostel) and bought a ticket there. It has easier (and shorter) transport connections to Kolomyya so I could easily move on – and I was planning to go there as a day trip anyway so I wasn’t really going out of my way.
While I was at it, I started looking at my transport options to Moldova. I had planned to go there from Kamyanets-Podilsky but then learned that the bus that I thought ran daily only runs on Tuesdays. I had planned to be in Kamyanets Thursday through Sunday, so sticking with that bus would require me to change up my itinerary quite a bit and likely miss some things I wanted to see in Ukraine.
With some more digging around, I discovered more frequent (and shorter!) bus connections between the town of Chernivtsi and Chisinau, the capital of Moldova. Like Ivano-Frankivsk, I had planned to visit Chernivtsi as a day trip anyway, so it made sense to just stay a night and leave from there to Moldova instead. In the span of about ten minutes, I reserved a spot in a hostel in Chernivtsi and bought my bus ticket online.
And I smiled.
How do you like to travel? Spontaneously? Or with plans already in place?