This is What Happened When I Winged My Trip to the UK

This is What Happened When I Winged My Trip to the UK

You don't always have to plan every detail for your trip. Sometimes, the best journeys are the ones that are left unplanned.

Prior to my backpacking trip around the UK, I asked my buddy if perhaps we should start ironing out the details of our trip. She laughed out loud and told me simply that we didn’t need one. Perhaps it was the confidence in her voice, or the rebellious glee I felt from going against carefully-mired tradition, but the next thing I knew, we began our journey with nothing but our plane tickets to London.

Also read: Why Most Unplanned Adventures are Often the Best Ones

winged trip UKGoing in without a plan – look Ma, no worries!

What WILL happen when you decide to wing it? I can’t tell you what you’ll experience for sure – every journey is different and there will be different stories to tell. But here’s what DID happen when we did it ourselves.

We found ourselves stranded in the chilly London night on the very first day. You might think that it’s a horrible predicament to be in – after all, we were two 19-year-old girls wandering around London in the dead of night. But if that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t be able to look back and laugh at our youthful, reckless folly. The things that we would not have seen or experienced otherwise would have made our journey a completely different one – one that, I think, would be less colourful.

london morning
This picture was taken at around 6am. We decided to move from Victoria Station as soon as the sun was up.

We would not have seen London shining brightly even in its darkest hours. We would not have met the kind stranger outside the tube station in Victoria whom we huddled with while talking about everything and nothing. We would not have witnessed the sun nudge London back to life, the bustle return to its streets, or the sleepy murmurs of “good morning” greeting us as commuters walked past.

London is one of the busiest and most famous cities in the world. A strict plan would not have given us this insight into the other side of London – one that’s filled with the quiet hum of threadbare traffic and the bright lights that revealed sleepy citizens trudging through their midnight grocery run. We would have held to the impression of what London is in the day and never have been close to knowing London in its entirety.

edinburgh street

Had our itinerary been planned each day, we would not have come across certain sights – because they would never have been considered. Imposing neighbourhood churches and the long, winding alleys that meandered towards hidden gems would never have revealed itself to us had we not chosen to lose ourselves in the cities’ streets.

There were no questions of “where do we go next”, “should we hurry” or “what’s next on our list” and it was liberating. We explored these places the way we wanted to, free from the pressure of a fixed itinerary dictating what we should do next. I’d like to think we saw these cities for what they really were and not how they were often seen.

bath alleyway
Bath was my favourite place. Infinitely glad that we chose to stay an extra day here.

arthur's seatFunny enough, we didn’t actually mean to go to Arthur’s Seat. We randomly walked out of the city and found ourselves here soon enough.

Also read: Scotland’s Six World Heritage Sites

Had our journey been fixed, we would not have stayed an extra day in Bath. We would have been full of regrets for failing to realise that this was a place whose beauty required more than just one day to experience.

We would not have gone to Edinburgh either. I know, right? Who wouldn’t want to visit Edinburgh from the get-go? Blame it on poor planning. After all, we did land in the UK without a plan. What mattered was that we did go in the end, and it might just be the best decision we made.

Had we planned our journey, we would not have been wowed by the grandeur of Arthur’s Seat, revelled in the romantic bustle of Edinburgh or found stunning hidden alleys in the midst of Bath. Fact is, you’ll never know just how amazing a place is until you’re actually there. There will be times when you wish that you could stay longer or moments where you regret stepping foot into the place at all. A loose itinerary gave us the option to tweak it to suit our whims, and lets us see things that we would never have seen otherwise.

bathLosing ourselves in a random neighbourhood in Bath.

This is not an article on how to wing it. Neither is it meant to advocate it. All too often, I’ve seen people worrying themselves to tears because that one little detail in their plan hasn’t been smoothed out. This piece was meant to assure you that it’s alright if you haven’t gotten every single detail in order. It’s alright if you haven’t tied down the accommodation in one place, or the route to another. Your trip will not be in ruins.

Also read: 10 Woes of a Trip Planner

Don’t wring yourself dry, dear reader – some of the best things you’ll experience will come knocking on your door uninvited. Sometimes, all you have to do is to take a step back and let it happen. You’ll never know what amazing things you’ll find once you do.

About Author

Farzana Fattah
Farzana Fattah

Farzana is a student at Singapore Management University who’s currently wondering what on earth she’s doing with her life. When not nerding out over the latest superhero movie or scrolling through memes on Tumblr, she is almost definitely researching random places across the globe and daydreaming about the next holiday destination. She is inspired by the variety of cultures in the world and hopes to travel to at least fifty countries in her lifetime to experience most of them.


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