A beginner’s guide to spontaneous travel
When it comes to travel, there’d definitely something satisfying about planning ahead - researching all of the available options, working out the things you want to see and experience, mapping out the logistics of how to get where you need to go to, where you’re going to stay, where you’re going to eat, where you’ll be posting your Instagram selfies from. Equally, there’s also an undeniable in just totally winging it.
Maybe you’ve got a few days of annual leave that need to be used up, or maybe you’re working freelance and have realised that you’ve got a gap between clients, or maybe you’re just at a bit of a loose end and need a change of scene to mix things up a bit. Pack a bag, book a flight, go somewhere.
Is spontaneous travel more expensive?
It definitely can be. If you’re lucky enough that money isn’t really an issue, then you might not need to worry about whether your credit card is going to be able to cope with an impulsive trip to a new destination, but most of us need to make sure that our travels aren’t going to leave us stuck somewhere remote contemplating our career choices.
Perhaps surprisingly, last-minute travel can actually deliver you some pretty spectacular savings. If you’re not too bothered about where you, and you’ve got a bit of flexibility on your travel dates, then there’s plenty of search engine tools out there that do all the hard work of packaging up the different elements you need.
One of the big drivers for these last-minute deals for spontaneous travellers is capacity. Airlines want to sell seats on flights, hotels want their rooms occupied. Discount offers will be released at various points during the booking cycle to try and soak up any extra capacity that travel operators need to shift fast.
Does it matter where you go?
If you have a specific destination or event in mind, then that obviously gives you a set of parameters that you’re going to need to work within. If you want to be in Sydney for Mardi Gras, Bangkok for Songkran, or Madrid for Gay Pride, then you need to plan ahead for those trips.
However, the more you travel the more you realise that some of the best travel adventures are the unexpected ones. If you just need a change of scene from where you are, then does it really matter if you end up in Berlin or Cologne? If you need some beach time, does it matter if it’s Barcelona, Ibiza, or Mykonos? You can have a great time wherever you are - what makes travel great are the people you meet and the experiences you have. Approach anything with the right attitude and you can have an amazing and unforgettable time.
But even if you’re quite specific about the destination that you want to go to, then you could benefit from a spontaneous travel expedition. For example, if February seems endless and you need to escape London’s bleak winter before you lose all will to live, then a spur-of-the-moment trip to Gran Canaria could be exactly what you need. If you’re flexible on precisely when you go, and you’re not too bothered about where you stay, then you’ll quickly find lots of options that deliver the kind of travel experience that you’re looking for, at a really affordable price.
How to be a spontaneous traveller
- Travel light: Figure out how to travel with just hand-luggage. You’re on an adventure. You don’t need three pairs of shoes, your body-bronzer, or your hair-straighteners.
- Be able to entertain yourself: Not everything always goes to plan. You might have to endure a delayed flight, you might miss a train connection, you may end up spending a day in Frankfurt. Make sure you’re carrying a book, a Kindle, or have your laptop powered up so you can edit your photos, email your family, or write your autobiography.
- Don’t be too fussy: Does it really matter if your hotel is a bit run-down? Does it really matter if it’s raining? Does it really matter if none of the local guys speak your language? The best travel expeditions are going to throw some challenges your way, it’s how you respond to them that matters.
- Look on the bright side: One of the qualities celebrated by the Royal Marines is - ‘Cheerfulness in the face of adversity.’ Cheerfulness in the face of adversity is exactly what you need to be able to embrace the experience of being a spontaneous traveller.