The best things are always unexpected. That’s true in life, in love and in travel. To that end, spontaneous trips are the best – whether it be that you suddenly decide to head somewhere or that you plan a trip and you let fate decide where you’re headed.
The big problem really is the letting go. For that reason, today we’re going to look at the best ideas for spontaneous travel. In that way, you’ll find it easier than ever to do something unexpected and reap the rewards.
A step at a time
Our personal favorite way to travel is to only choose the next destination. From there, we’ll then figure out where we’ll go next. Why this works so well is that often the best places you can go aren’t on all the websites. That’s because the moment they’re all up there, too many people go.
If, however, you just go somewhere and you talk to other people, then you’ll find the places that haven’t yet been invaded by tourist swarms. That means you’ll get to see them before they’re gone.
I’ve seen some of the biggest tourist attractions in the world this way – but way before people realized how great they were. Recently, I made the mistake of going back to one of them to see what had happened. I’ll never do that again! There really is no better way to destroy a memory.
How to find out where to go
The best sources of information are always other travelers. That’s because these people have no vested interest in telling you where to go. If you go to a travel agent, a tour guide or a taxi driver, then more often than not their first thought is ‘how can I make money here?’. And so, you don’t get sent where is nicest but where benefits them most.
Other travelers don’t have that. They have gone to plenty of places and they’ll gladly share what they’ve learned. One thing you should watch out for, of course, is who you talk to. If you’re a fifty something traveler with an interest in nature, talking to a group of 20-year-old dudes looking to score won’t get you where you want to go. For that reason, find out if you’ve got shared interests before you follow their advice.
Of course, if you want to ask travelers where to go you do have to be where they are. For that reason, we usually chose to spend a little time so now and then in hostels. Not always, mind you. It can get too noisy. But sometimes. A few nights of talking to other travelers on the couch can give you a really good idea of where to go and what to avoid.
How to go
Spontaneous travel doesn’t have to be expensive travel. There are a lot of tools which will allow you to find cheap flights. I’ll normally check for flights on skyscanner, for example. Because we’re being spontaneous, we use the ‘flights to everywhere’ option. We also will try a range of days to find out when the flights are cheaper.
Also, consider using night busses. These aren’t just cheaper than flights, but they also mean you don’t have to book a hotel room for that night. That gives you extra cash to book trips and buy souvenirs.
It doesn’t matter how much information you gather from other travelers, if you’ve got too much stuff to simply pick up and go there, then you won’t go. For that reason, travel light. If you need more than two bags, you’re not being spontaneous and free enough! Remember, they have laundries in other countries too.
Also, consider what bags you’ll take. Wheely bags are fantastic in some climates, particularly if the roads are decent. Going into a third world country or the jungle? Then for god’s sake, take a backpack!
The backup stuff
If this all sounds too risky for you and you’re not sure you’ll be able to do it that way, then you can always get a travel guide book for the place you’re going. These can be incredibly useful if you’re going somewhere you’re not sure you can find your way around.
Also, a good idea is once you’ve selected a destination is to book a hotel room, hostel or apartment for a night. That way, you don’t immediately have to start looking around for a place to stay after a long and often grueling journey.
Instead, you can dump your stuff, walk around, relax, and check out a place for the next day as you meander around.
Another useful tool, if you don’t speak the language is a translation app. There are tons of them out there and they can help in an emergency. Of course, speaking the language is even better, but that’s a serious investment of time and effort. Besides, online translations are getting better all the time. If you’re not so comfortable with this idea, learn more about online translation here.
Oh yeah, and you’ll want to make sure you have several different ways to get at money. In some countries some banks don’t work. It’s also possible things go wrong, you lose your credit card or (god forbid) you get robbed.
By having a backup bank card, cash in a sock or some other way to get at money in case your main income stream is interrupted, your vacation won’t be ruined by something like this happening.
A balance of time
Ultimately, spontaneous travel is about discovering things you wouldn’t have found otherwise. That only works, however, if you don’t plan yourself into a corner. In fact, planning is the anathema of spontaneity.
Don’t take that to mean that you can’t decide what you’re going to do tomorrow. Sometimes a half-day tour will be fun. Sometimes joining other people who are going to explore a temple will be a great opportunity.
But for that to work, you do need to leave yourself time to let the world show you the way. And you can only do that if you have time where you can just sit around, talk with the people around you and allow yourself the opportunity to actually embrace the ideas being offered.
To be sure, spontaneity is not the same as doing nothing. At the same time, it certainly can’t mean that you decide every day what you’re going to do the next. For then, you’ll never meet the people you have to or hear about the opportunities you’ll want to embrace.
Can’t travel like that? Then perhaps spontaneous travel isn’t for you. I hear they’ve got some great package tours that you might want to take advantage of.