It’s a romantic and wildly adventurous way to travel; to rock up in a new city with no script, and wing it after you arrive. To have the freedom to wander where and when you please, get a late cruise deal, or stay longer in a place that truly intrigues you.
There’s something dangerously thrilling about traveling without a fixed itinerary, and I’ve always fantasized about what it would be like. I envy spontaneous travelers, though OCD means that not having a solid travel plan makes me break out in hives!
But I’ve vowed to build more spontaneity into our trips for 2018, and pull back from over planning. So if you too are looking to recover some wildness in your trips, the following tips are how to successfully manage travel without a script.
How to Be a Spontaneous Traveler
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Save for Travel Even When You’re Not Planning It
You can’t very well wake up and decide to jump on a flight to Paris if you don’t have the funds to pull it off. So save for travel even when you’re not planning it.
Cut out luxury purchases, make do with your current wardrobe, quit smoking, cut down on coffee, share the car, ride to work, cook your own meals. I might sound like captain buzz kill, but if I hear about a last minute cruise to Bali, I want to have enough money to go.
Sort out a Cheap Data Roaming Solution
A smartphone can be the ultimate way to plan on the fly, so sorting our a cheap data roaming solution should be your top priority. That connection means access to information, money, and methods of communication when you find yourself in a foreign land.
If you’re spending a lot of time traveling throughout the same country, it’s a great idea to purchase a local sim so you’re not paying international data fees (make sure your phone is unlocked).
If you’re jumping between a number of different countries, it’s a better idea to use a service like Flexiroam X where you can earn free data before you travel (up to 100 GB) use in over 100 countries around the globe. We reviewed the Flexiroam X service earlier in the year and it’s a a great way to roam internationally for as little cost as possible.
Download the Free Skyscanner App for Last Minute Flights
Regardless of whether you’re spontaneous, every traveler should have the free Skyscanner app on their phone. It’s an all-in-one travel app which lets you search, compare and book the cheapest hotels, car rentals, and flights, and because it’s on your phone, you can book everything at once while you’re on the go.
Features of the travel app include receiving price alerts of daily cheap deals, and for the truly spontaneous, if you enter “everywhere” instead of a specific destination, it will pull up cheap flight prices to different destinations around the world from your closest airport.
The app offers the same services as their website—just more handy, convenient and fast. It’s simple and easy to use, and has been downloaded over 40 million times.
For Carryon Travelers: Cabin Zero Backpack
For those heading on a spontaneous trip and planning on throwing together a quick carryon, Cabin Zero is a fantastic cabin backpack brand. They have a wide range of cabin sized bags for the light packer, the short adventure, or the weekend trip, and for being cabin size, their designs offer a lot of space.
Choose from a variety of different colors; each bag in their range includes a built in global tracker (powered by Okoban), YKK lockable zippers, thick padded shoulder straps, 44L capacity, are super lightweight, and made with strong durable materials.
Get a Hotel Room You Can Cancel
You’re less likely to change your plans on a whim if you’ve already dropped a couple hundred non refundable dollars on a hotel. So if you want the flexibility to make spontaneous decisions, make sure you’ve booked a hotel room you can cancel (Skyscanner app has revamped hotel listings so you can easily see hotel information at a glance).
Unless it’s peak season, most hotels can extend your stay while you’re still there, so book a shorter stay, and extend if you need to. Nonrefundable bookings will usually offer a cheaper price, but they do tether you down to one location.
Talk to Strangers
Forget what your mother told you about talking to strangers – chatting with locals is a great way to meet amazing people who can teach you about their country and it’s culture.
Locals can tell you about the parts of a destination that the guide books don’t, and the best part is you can find them everywhere! They’re at the hotel front desk, restaurants, bars, grocery stores — anywhere you come into contact with folks who are working, shopping for mundane items and going about daily life, strike up a conversation with them!
It’s also a great idea to pick up a community newspaper for inspiration on things to do. They usually have listings for activities, festivals, concerts, classes and more.
Remember That You Don’t Need to Go Far
Far too many people operate under the mistaken belief that travel doesn’t count unless you’ve packed a 20 kg bag and jumped on a long haul flight. On the contrary, you can capture the same feeling discovering something new without having to go too far.
It’s highly likely there’s at least one street you’ve never walked, a town you haven’t explored, or a trail you haven’t hiked nearby, and it’s equally as spontaneous to jump in the car instead of jumping on a flight! Become a tourist in your own state and check out a place you’ve been missing.
Planning is Not the Enemy
Being spontaneous “doesn’t mean you have to end long-term thinking or planning. Ideally, you should be able to create a plan, execute it, and then deviate from it whenever you wish.”
Remember that planning is not the enemy, and you can still have a general idea of what you want to see and do. Plan out the things you don’t want to leave to chance, and improvise on the rest.
Even if you’re not someone who plans anything in advance, it’s a good idea to check the visa, international driving permit and passport validity requirements for every country you think you might visit to make sure your travel documents are in compliance.
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Photo credit: Holi festival photo (Pinterest) by Steven Gerner.