How to Be A More Spontaneous Traveler
For many people, one worry that drives their approach to travel is the dreaded FOMO - a fear of missing out. That naturally makes sense when your holiday time is precious and you want to make the most of it. To fight this fear though people can get carried away with planning and try to schedule every last minute of their trip.
The problem with all this is that it often kills any chance of being spontaneous and all the fun surprises and unforeseen experiences that turn your trip into an unforgettable adventure. Usually the best travel stories focus on a surprising or unexpected moment that you never could have predicted before your trip. At the end of the day it all comes down to opportunities, both the ones you take and the ones you wish you’d taken.
To help you become more spontaneous with your travels, here are some things you might want to keep in mind.
Don’t Plan Every Second of Your Day
Perhaps the most important thing to do to allow more spontaneity in your travels is to avoid over-planning. The problem with planning your trip down to the minute is that it’s hard to be spontaneous if you have a strict timetable you need to follow, and every moment is already spoken for. It’s also easier to become disappointed or frustrated with your visit as soon as you fall behind schedule or things don’t go as planned.
The thing is, you never know when or how you may need time that is available for a sudden invite, a new friendship or any of the millions of unknowns that pop up when you travel. Especially on longer trips, there may be times when you’re tired, sick or simply need a break, all of which cause tension with a rigid schedule to follow. Basically, leave yourself some wiggle room for those random moments that always pop up when you travel.
What You Can Plan
None of this means you need to go the complete opposite and travel by the seat of your pants, following every whim that hits you. Being spontaneous doesn’t mean not planning anything, it just means planning carefully and in moderation. Planning and research in advance goes far beyond creating an itinerary – think visas, currency, language, transport options, local festivals and public holidays etc.
There are also factors beyond the destination itself. For instance, making sure you have enough money available to cover the trip. If you’re on a really strict budget, then there are some risks to last minute booking. All it takes is one destination with only expensive options to undo all the savings you managed to find.
It also never hurts to have a good safety net when you travel to help make life easier. With a good phone or data plan, it doesn’t matter too much if you get lost wandering and exploring since Google maps can always help you find your way home. Then there’s the safety net of booking accommodation at places with free cancellation right up to the day before you arrive. This way you can make changes to your plans last minute and still have a backup if things don’t go your way. With smart planning like this, you have options and with travel that’s never a bad thing.
Advantages of Organizing Things Last Minute
Even still, being spontaneous doesn’t just mean leaving everything up to the universe and seeing what happens. One way to be more spontaneous is to simply hold off on booking things until the day before you need them. This might seem needlessly stressful but it can give your trip greater flexibility as it allows you to react to circumstances as they arise.
Say you wait until the night before to book a hotel room in the next destination. Chances are you’ll have less choice in hotels based on availability and price, but not always. In fact, you may even score discounted rates on nice hotels who have had cancellations or plenty of rooms still free. There are actually websites dedicated to this last-minute style of travel such as Hotel Tonight and Last Minute, but even regular booking sites can have last-minute sales.
Similarly, when you arrive at your destination you’ll have a much better idea of what activities best suit your mood, weather or budget. No one wants to do a long walking tour in stormy weather or go see their hundredth European church simply because it’s on the itinerary.
This approach also means you can adjust your next destination if new information reaches your ears. Maybe you learn from other travelers that you only need 1 night and not 3 in your next city or that a place simply isn’t worth your time. You’re always going to be more informed while you’re on the trip compared to planning it months in advance, so that kind of freedom and flexibility is invaluable.
Be Open to New Experiences
To make the most of traveling unplanned, it helps to have an open-minded attitude. We travel for new places, new foods, new people and new experiences after all. Be too set in your ways and you may actually miss out on something great. The important thing to remember is that you don’t know what you don’t know about a place and it’s impossible to plan for the unknown.
With an open-minded attitude and no pressure from schedules, it’s much easier to leap upon a new experience or opportunity if something suddenly happens. Whether it’s a fun bar or restaurant that you just happen to stumble upon or a local event you never knew about, these are the opportunities you don’t want to turn down. You never know where those experiences will take you but chances are they’ll help define your trip and create some of your fondest travel memories.
All content provided in this blog is supplied by David Johnston and is for informational purposes only. Barclays takes no position as to the views, and makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in the blog or found by following any link within this blog.
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