It might be different when we eventually retire and have endless time available, but for holidays of limited duration you do need to be organised to make the most of freedom. You have to start out with a plan, even if you don’t stick to it. Of course, some things such as flights, ferries etc, are fixed and need to be planned in advance, but for the rest of the trip, you need some sensible planning to sort out distances, timescales and the like. With no plan, you’d end up wandering aimlessly and miss out on the best places.
Freedom comes from changing that plan. Somewhere turns out to be not as good as you expected, so you move on. You get enchanted half way to your next destination, so you stop off for a bit. En route from Ioannina to Volos, we detoured to Papigko in the Vikos Gorge, and fell immediately in love with that gorgeous place. Park the car, find a room, enjoy. You can only do that if you’ve had the courage to go backpacking.
But you need to plan your trip properly beforehand, work out your distances, get a proper handle on timescales, book the fixtures like ferries etc, research transport options. Create a list of places you want to see, things you want to do, the route you want to follow. If hiring a car, you only need to pre-book with a big operator if you want a one-way hire; if you’re hiring for odd days, or returning the car to your start point, then a local operator will be much, much cheaper than the likes of Hertz or Avis. Don’t overlook the joy of public transport though, using trains, trams and buses quickly makes you feel like a local and quickly gives you opportunities to meet people and seek that advice on where to eat, where to sleep, etc.
Don’t plan to do too much, leave yourself space; you don’t want to come home feeling like you never settled anywhere and were constantly on the move. And so the moral is: plan well, before you go. And then enjoy not sticking to the plan. Seize every moment.