In 2015 I went on a trip to Europe and met the most amazing group of Australians travelling around the Greek Islands. Within 9 days of island hopping together we had become so close we didn't want to leave one another. But they were going on to Tomorrow Land and I had booked too many things in advance to be able to change what I was doing. And just like that I had to leave the coolest group of people I had ever met, going to one of the best festivals in the world. It was in that moment that I promised myself that one day I would book a one way ticket somewhere and see where it took me.
Now, 4 years on I have finally got the opportunity to do so. I have learnt a lot along the way so this blog is all about sharing how to get the most out of a spontaneous trip.
Rule #1 – Absolutely NO Planning
The key to being a spontaneous traveller is not making any plans. This leaves you wide open and flexible to go with whatever experience, person or trip that comes along.
Turn up to a place with no expectations, no idea of what to do, keep your mind open and let the world take you on a journey.
Rule #2 – Minimal Research
There are pros and cons to doing research but if you really are looking to be a spontaneous traveller I would highly recommend not doing any. Research can create bias and sway you to do certain things that might close down unexpected opportunities. Not doing any research can be super exciting because it allows you to arrive in a place not knowing anything, making every little thing you discover a surprise.
Rule #3 – Back Up Money
Many people assume that travelling spontaneously is more expensive than booking in advance. This is not the case. If you let the last minute flight websites dictate where you are going it can actually cost you the same or even less. However if you end up meeting people along the way and you want to follow them, booking flights or transport to specific places on specific dates can get expensive (depending on demand), so be prepared for that.
Having a good amount of money before you leave on your trip is key. Unlike a planned trip where you can estimate your spending costs pretty accurately, spontaneous travel is all about the unknown so you simply cannot budget for it. The trick is to have a quick glance at how much a flight home costs and choose an average amount you want to spend on transport, food and accommodation a day. Add some money on top of that for experiences.
Because your whole trip is about the unknown, expect things to not always go your way. Missing flights, unexpected baggage costs and extra accomodation fees can be a reality when booking things last minute so have some extra money set aside for these.
Rule #4 – Be Open minded and Social
Travelling spontaneously is not the norm so you cannot bring along a normal mindset. You need to become a lot more open and flexible in your thinking. Let go of judgments or opinions you have and base what you feel on what happens. Pre-conceived ideas of people or places will quickly limit the opportunities and possibilities of your trip.
For me, people always make or break a trip. Staying open to meeting new people can open up a world of opportunity and create long lasting memories.
- Hostels: The key is to either stay in a hostel so you are in a social environment with people your age or be very open and confident when exploring a City.
- Locals: Talking to a local for 5 minutes can be the equivalent to hours of research on a place. Ask them for the best beaches, restaurants bars etc.
- Instagram: Reaching out to like-minded people on Instagram can also be a great way to meet new people.
Rule #5 – Know your Booking Sites
Saving your money for things like experiences and exploring, which is what makes a good trip, is important and straight forward if you save on standard things like transport and accommodation. Knowing good sites to maximise savings is key. Here are some recommended ones:
The trick with these is to not always use one. Comparing prices across the sites will ensure you get the best price as there isn’t one that is always going to be cheaper than the others, they shift and fluctuate regularly.
Rule #6 – Know What You Want
Understanding what you want out of a trip will allow you to make the most out of whatever time you have. If you are looking for adventure and to discover a whole lot of different places then not staying in one place too long is key. It is easy to get caught up in a place, especially if you have no time pressures so recognising when it is time to move on is important. Generally, if you start to find yourself sitting around a lot or wondering what to do next, your destination may be a little stale and it might be time to move along.
If you are after a more relaxing or cheap holiday then limiting how many places you go to can help you do that. The excitement that comes from endless opportunities and meeting other people with big plans can get the better of us and might result in you trying to do too much.
Some of the best things in life are the things that happen unexpectedly and spontaneous travel allows you to experience that every single day.
Being a spontaneous traveller can create some of the the most exciting and rewarding experiences you will ever have, the trick is to open yourself up and stay flexible so you can jump at any opportunity that comes your way.