How To Travel Spontaneously. Part 3

Traveling can be a pleasant, carefree experience, but the large amounts of planning and preparation which usually precede actually traveling can make the process seem like more trouble than it’s worth. If you’d like to travel without putting in so much work beforehand, try to travel more spontaneously. Making spontaneous travel plans can open doors to new experiences that you wouldn’t have taken part in otherwise. However, you’ll need to leave yourself open to occasional misadventures, getting lost or wandering, and relying on local advice and assistance.

Making Spontaneous Travel Decisions

Be open to the unexpected and to changing plans. When traveling spontaneously, a few minor mishaps are bound to happen: you won’t find lodging until late at night, a restaurant praised by a local will end up being disappointing, or a trail you’ve decided to hike may be closed seasonally. View these frustrating situations as opportunities rather than disappointments.

  • For example, if a restaurant isn’t enjoyable, leave and wander through a food-heavy district of town until you find a better place to dine. If you can’t spend the day hiking, rent a car and drive through the countryside instead.
  • One of the major benefits of spontaneous traveling is that unexpected changes of plans become part of the norm. Leave yourself open to this, and enjoy where the trip takes you.
  • Being open and flexible also allows for optimizing vacation time. A rigid schedule may not allow for spending less time at places that are not of high interest, and more time at another.

Enjoy wandering or getting lost. Plan to spend some of your travel time simply wandering through new regions of a city or rural district. This will lead you to interesting local markets, shops, restaurants, and scenic vistas that you likely would not have found if you hadn’t wandered spontaneously. Opening your travel plans to the unexpected will yield unanticipated discoveries and bring a sense of independence.

  • If you do end up seriously lost, don’t panic. Avoid areas that seem unsafe or feel uncomfortable, and use your phone or map to find your way back to your hotel or hostel. If you’re lost in a town or city, you can call a cab (or find someone to call a cab for you), or book an Uber on your phone.
  • It’s important to consider safety issues when wandering through a foreign city or region. If a part of a city makes you feel uncomfortable, trust your instinct and leave. Always have an idea of how far from your hotel or hostel you are by car, and avoid getting lost in areas without a phone or internet signal.

Take advantage of local events and festivals. You can find out about many of these in local “weeklies” or weekly newspapers, which will contain listings for upcoming concerts, shows, film screenings or theater performances, and other types of local entertainment that you wouldn’t find out about otherwise. These events will be largely devoid of tourists, and so will give your spontaneous travel a more authentic, local feel.

  • These local events could include large concerts or musical festivals, cultural holidays (e.g. Day of the Dead), religious holidays, food festivals, sporting events, or any other number of local events.
  • On the other hand, large holidays, festivals, or holiday weekends may increase your travel costs or increase congestion on highways. An increase in a city’s population—say, due to a large ongoing music festival—will also make hotel and hostel rooms both more scarce and more expensive.

Ask about group travel deals. If you’re traveling with a group, many places, including hotels, theaters, sports stadiums, day-tours, and concert venues, may be inclined to offer you a discounted rate, since you’ll be bringing several paying customers. Once you’re on the ground in a city or region, ask around (or check the weekly newspaper) to see if you can negotiate a group rate for an activity.

  • If you plan ahead before you travel, you can take advantage of a group hotel discount through a site like HotelPlanner or even directly through a hotel website itself.

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