When was the last time you felt truly spontaneous? When you let the winds of fate decide your day, when you travelled without a plan?
When you lived in the moment simply to see what would happen next?
I understand that travelling spontaneously isn’t for everyone, there is pleasure to be found in planning a trip before you go, researching the top rated restaurants, the chicest boutique hotels and the must do activities. They say the trip starts the moment you start planning it.
However, the internet has a little too much information. That bridge you were planning to visit? You can find it photographed at every possible angle online.
Sometimes the web is a great little research tool for finding the best photography angles and lighting. Sometimes you arrive at your destination feeling a little underwhelmed. In a way, you’ve already seen it.
I wrote a post a while back titled ‘Since when did the travel community become so obsessed with planning’ where I addressed my feelings that travel had become more about getting the perfect ‘gram, than it was about the experience. Perhaps I’m a little old-fashioned about travel, but if you agree with me that travel should still have a little spark of spontaneity, then I hope these tips can help you see travel in a new light.
Tips for spontaneous travel
Let the locals guide you. Go to the centre of the city and follow the crowds, whichever way they walk. You may find yourself outside a stadium before a game, at a popular bar or restaurant, or even in the red light district (as heard from a fellow traveller).
Find a park and wander around, buy something from the first street food cart you see, even if you don’t know what you’re eating.
Jump on the local metro or subway line and hop off at a stop just because you like the name (my favourite game when I lived in Sydney).
Look on a map for a park or lake and head there (without researching what’s there first).
Wake up early – beat the backpackers who’re sleeping off hangovers and the family tourists who need time to organise the kids in the morning. The light's better for photography, the crowds are thin, and the streets are quieter.
Travel without the internet. Ask locals for directions when you get lost. Eat wherever looks good without checking the reviews, pick a hostel from your guidebook without checking out the online photos. Try it for a day and see where it leads.
Ask other travellers how they’ve spent their time in the country, for me, it led to the discovery of some amazing accommodations and small villages that I had skipped over in the guidebooks and were missing from the usual ‘top 10 lists’.
When booking flights travel to the cheapest location that you’ve never visited. Skyscanner has an option to search destinations by cheapest rank.
Take an unplanned road trip, like the ones we took with our parents when we were kids. Pick a direction out of town, stop when you get tired, see where you end up.
Having a travel itinerary is still a great stress free way of travelling, but leaving days unplanned to wander round and get lost may be the most rewarding days of your trip.
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