Tips to Travel by the Seat of Your Pants3 min read
Every single day is typically planned out from start to finish: what time to get out of bed, what time your kids have to be at school, when you need to be at work, in a meeting, finished a project, when everyone needs to be picked up and fed dinner at night, and more. And, more and more, vacations are turning into this, with a jam-packed itinerary for each day.
Sure, planning every activity, meal and excursion for a trip can ensure you see and do everything you want while you’re in that destination. But planning every detail before you arrive in your destination may restrict you from really experiencing everything your trip has to offer, in addition it may leave you feeling locked into a schedule and having to be at certain places at certain times.
Throwing a bit of caution to the wind and spontaneously traveling without an itinerary can give you an adventurous adrenaline rush and the opportunity to really explore and learn about the city you’re traveling in.
But the idea of booking a trip spontaneously and not planning an itinerary may sound scary if you’ve never done it before – you may worry “Where will I sleep? What will I do? How will I know where to go?”
That’s where a bit of pre-planning can come in handy. Planning for an unplanned trip may sound like an oxymoron, but spontaneous travel doesn’t mean uninformed travel. Now, you won’t be planning an itinerary in order to allow for freedom and openness for unexpected adventures, but there are a few things you need to organize before jetting off.
First, plan on who is going with you. This person or people should be okay with spontaneity and exploration. Traveling in a group provides you with a certain level of safety in numbers, but it’s certainly possible to take this trip on your own for an even greater adventure.
Next, you should decide how long you’re going to travel for, where you’re flying to and how you’re paying for the trip. All of these details tend to depend on each other – how much time you’re allowed to take off from school or work and how much money you can spend may dictate what destination you end up in.
You should also make sure your passport isn’t expired and research what visas and/or documentation you may need to get in or out of particular countries. In addition, call your doctor or visit a traveler’s clinic to find out what vaccinations you may need. You’ll also find out if there are any medications you should take with you in case you get ill.
You can enroll in the U.S.’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program – it’s a free service that allows U.S. citizens and nationals traveling abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
And then there’s some research you can do. This will prevent you from feeling like you don’t know anything about where you’re going. Take some time to learn about the places you want to visit – you don’t have to know the business hours of attractions, restaurants and hotels before you arrive, but it will give you the chance learn a little about where you’re going, what’s important to people there and what places you should visit in that destination.
The rest of the planning will work itself out along the way, whether you get tips from other travelers and locals or just discover a restaurant, sight, attraction, or event along the way. There’s a level of joy that comes with not planning – you never know what exciting adventure is right around the corner.