Trash the Travel Checklist and Consider…

Nuremberg Trial Memorial

Nuremberg Trial Memorial

Some people count the number of countries they’ve visited.

Some have a bucket list.

Me, I have no idea how many countries I’ve been to nor do I have a list that drives my travel plans. Sure, there are places I really want to go. But not all travel I do is determined by them. Often I end up in places that I’ve never considered and I’m so happy I do.

Nuremberg, Germany

It was only because it was the starting point of a cruise, that I went to Nuremberg. There, I visited the Memorium Nuremberg Trials where I was so moved that I sat down in the museum and wrote So Sad.

West Sands, St. Andrews.

West Sands, St. Andrews.

St. Andrews, Scotland

It was because I was looking for a weekend getaway from London that I went to St. Andrews, Scotland. I’m not a golfer so I wouldn’t have gone without the kind invitation I received from the people at St. Andrews. What I discovered was a small town that’s perfect for solo travelers. Totally safe. Lovely beaches. And the golf course is open on Sundays for walking.

bus tour, douro valle, portugal

The Douro Valley.

Porto and the Douro Valley, Portugal

It was because I was going to speak at a conference in Porto, Portugal that I went on a tour up the Douro Valley. It was stunning. I wrote about it in this post Olive Oil Rivers and Almonds in Port. It has lots of photos.

My point…

There are times to trash the travel checklist and go where life takes you. But don’t just go. Go and explore. If you’re traveling for work, tack on a few extra days to discover what the destination has to offer. Some of my best memories come from small towns and places that I had never considered going until something unexpected took me there.

  • Janice Waugh

    I love it. This is often the case.


  • Melissa

    Just recently, my friend and I took a road trip to New Orleans. On the way there, we saw a sign for a Coca-Cola Museum and thought “Why not? We’ve got time.” We didn’t expect to see such a beautiful town with such friendly people. It was one of the best parts of our trip!

  • Liz Nichols

    Id like to know how to fund my travel overseas..working out visas for each different country is a nightmare..

  • Eytan Levy

    I’ve never bothered counting countries either. Seems like keeping track of that is less interesting than just experiencing some place or another. Besides, visiting Brazil still counts as one country, but you could spend a decade there and still have more to explore. Though I suppose I do get competitive about pack size…

  • Ute

    I agree that St Andrews is an amazing little place. If you’re looking or something different to do there: my friend and I organise painting and stonecarving vacations just outside St Andrews. Check out for details. We work in small, friendly groups and the trips are ideal for solo travellers!

  • Forest Parks

    Totally agree, there are times when just following your nose rather than a recipe yields much better meals….. metaphorically!

  • rod

    excellent perspective! I’ll have to try it more often

  • Anita Mac

    While I am totally a bucket lister, I am so open to random and unexpected travel too!
    Spontaneous travel is so fun! Last month, with less than 48 hours, I found myself off to New Orleans last minute! There were challenges with so last minute (cheap flight but turns out, 2 days before St Patrick’s Day can be a hotel challenge – how on earth did I miss that one???!!!) Had a ball and look forward to the next off the list destination!

  • Thomas Dembie

    Great article! Some of my most memorable travel experiences have also come from places I did not expect to visit. I once missed a connection in Bahrain due to a flight delay leaving Paris. As a result, I had to spend a day there waiting for the next available flight. I jumped in a cab and spent plenty of time wandering the city (Manama). Unforgettable!