Over-organizing travel plans—where you’re in a different place each day due to a long checklist of things to see—can actually result in seeing less. Sure, you may get to all the monuments or museums you want, but while the checklist blinders are on, you could be missing out on a lot of local culture.
Recently, I was in the town of Todos Santos, in Mexico’s Baja California Sur. In between the must-sees, I took the time to wander around and get a feel for the area—set in an oasis on the Pacific Ocean. I assumed I’d run into a bunch of artisan shops, some street color and a pretty plaza.
At one point, I turned a corner and found a group of young girls in folklórico skirts on a stage in the plaza, rehearsing for an upcoming performance. Some of them were paying attention to the instructor, some looked like they didn’t want to be there, and the rest were distracted by my paparazzi actions and posed for the camera. They went through their moves, often reprimanded by their instructor—but time stood still. It was a moment of serendipitous discovery.
Had I been focused on seeing certain things on a timetable, I might have missed this moment. But even if you don’t run across something quite so dramatic on your travels, keeping your mind clear of expectations and a strict schedule can often open your eyes to things you’d otherwise miss.
I was a guest of the Mexico Tourism Bureau during my time in Baja California Sur.