Celebrating The Unexpected

When traveling, I try to remember that closed itineraries–like closed fists–are unable to catch an unexpected blessing. Although I plan my travel in advance in fairly great detail, when I’m actually traveling I try to remain alert to the opportunities for spontaneous experiences, and to take advantage of them when I can. As a result, I get to enjoy the unexpected opportunities and sites that come my way. Here are just a few from the last week’s travels:

A buddha and his ducks at Hieizan Enryakuji:

The Tokyo Skytree (the third highest man-made building in the world) disappearing into the evening fog:

A delicious mushroom and house-made sausage pizza, cooked in a wood-fired oven imported from Naples to Hakone, Japan:

Latte art displaying the sanskrit character that represents Amida Buddha (in the cafe at Enryakuji Kaikan):

The pirate ships on Lake Ashi, at rest in a foggy storm:


… and a sign in Hakone apologizing for the decisions of strollers.

When writing, I’m both a plotter and a “pantser” – I write extensive outlines and then let the story tell itself (also known as writing “from the seat of my pants”). When it comes to travel, I take the same approach: plan ahead, but let the journey unfold in all its unexpected glory. So far, it’s worked out spectacularly.

When you travel, do you prefer to plan each moment or to fly by the seat of your traveling pants?