Why Vague Planning is the Best Planning

Hannah Van Otterloo is a student at the Colorado Christian University and an ISA Featured Blogger. She is studying abroad with ISA in Prague, Czech Republic.

The gentle hum of the motor accompanied by lively but not overpowering jazz and dimmed table lamps sets the mood as we sit at a table on the top indoor deck by the windows, gazing out at the lights of the city from the boat on the Danube. Our feet tingle with relief, having been pushed to their limits and finally receiving a break. We had been told we couldn’t do Budapest in 40 hours, but boy did we try!

As we sit soaking in the views during our last hour before we begin the long journey back to Prague, our boat passes by a handful of sites we visited, and we can’t help but wonder how we were able to visit all these locations. From Parliament, to Margaret Island, to Fisherman’s Bastion, to the Rudas Baths, and many more sites, we had been busy during our 40 hours in Budapest, spending 34 of the 40 hours touring the city. What was even more astounding was the fact that we showed up without really even having a plan, and that, I think, is what made our trip so great!

The view of the Parliament building from our boat cruise on the Danube was incredible!

No, I don’t think arriving in a strange city without an inkling of knowledge is a good idea. This type of disorganization and lack of preparation is what ruins trips, especially when you only have limited time in a city. However, what I recommend is being very “vague” in your planning.

What does “vague” planning look like?

  1. Make a list of the top five attractions you absolutely must see while in a city. For Budapest this included places such as the Parliament building, a bathhouse, and Fisherman’s Bastion.
View from a side stairway we found while wandering the gardens of Buda Castle.

2. Make a list of five more places that would be great to visit if time allows. Our list included places like the House of Terror and the Budapest History Museum.

3. Find a handful of restaurants or specialty foods that you would like to try. If you happen to be in Budapest, I recommend trying Bubble Waffles at Eat Me Bubble Waffle Bar, Langos fried bread at Retro Langos Bufe, and Goulash Soup at Kisharang Etkezde.

My Langos I had for lunch from Retro Langos Bufe. It had sour cream, sausage, and cheese for toppings and was DELICIOUS!

4. Be incredibly flexible! Flexibility is key to enjoying your limited time. Although we had already prepared a list of things to do, we ended up adding a boat tour on the last night per a friend’s recommendation. Yes, we had other places on our list that we could have visited, but the boat tour was a relaxing end to our time in Budapest that allowed us to reflect on our crazy and adventurous 40 hours.

Sure, we could have planned everything down to the last detail, printing out an hourly itinerary, including everything from the times we were touring, to where we were eating, to when we took bathroom breaks, but would that really have been enjoyable? If I’m being totally honest, I think that would have ruined my weekend. Instead of taking the time needed to appreciate each location and what it had to offer, we would have been rushed from place to place, checking places off like one checks items off of their to do list, and that would have turned my weekend in Budapest into a chore rather than the awesome and blessed experience it was.




Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.

Leave a Reply