From an early age we are introduced to and taught to rely on the art of planning. From the first day of school through to the last day of our career, we meticulously plan our studies, our work, our family life and our leisure time…
Planning can take over all aspects of our lives.
Family. Social life. Friends. Relationships. Marriage. Children. In this day and age, it’s so easy to get carried away and let our anxiety for the future control our life, forcing us to over-plan. How often do you stress about a plan B or a worst-case scenario instead of just going with the flow?
As John Lennon once said:
“Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”
Traveling is one activity that can require meticulous planning, with flights, hotel reservations and itineraries all begging to be organized in advance. But if you get too caught up in planning, your relaxing holiday could turn into a stressful, inflexible experience. This begs the question: how do we keep travel fun, challenging and spontaneous?
Here are a few tips for enjoying an unplanned trip:
1. Be spontaneous! Follow an interesting sign and change your plan
We think the ability to abandon your plans and venture into the unknown is directly proportional to your enjoyment of traveling (and life) in general. So, even if you have a plan, the next time an unexpected sign or an intriguing place name piques your interest, follow your intuition!
2. Thinking of turning something down? Say yes at the last minute!
We challenge you to accept the next travel suggestion that you would normally say no to. Spontaneity goes hand-in-hand with an open mind!
3. Take the random stop challenge
Forget the destination – we challenge you to set out on a journey with nothing more than your starting point planned. This is your chance to be spontaneous and leave the rest to fate. We promise it will be a trip to remember!
How to do it:
By train – Go to the station and catch the next train. Get off at the third (or fourth, or tenth…) stop and explore.
By car – Take a friend, then once you hit the highway ask them to close their eyes and give you random directions, such as “take the third exit, then turn right after four streets”. Who knows where you’ll end up?
By plane – This option is for advanced travelers only! Go to the airport and get on the next available flight to anywhere. Have your luggage packed. You can go alone or with friends (if they’re brave enough to accept the challenge). The destination is not important, so you can aim for the cheapest or the most exotic – whatever tickles your fancy. Spend the weekend there and see what fate has to offer!
4. Embrace the slow return challenge
This challenge is all about taking the easy way there and the scenic route home. That could mean taking a flight to your destination then meandering back over several days by bus, train, or even sticking your thumb out on the side of the road. If you’re driving, take the highway there and the back roads on your return, stopping at every town or landmark on the way to really get a feel for the area. We’re sure you’ll enjoy every place, every encounter and every moment on the road!
5. Spend a weekend in the wilderness without bringing food or a tent
Mountain tourism is incredibly popular these days, partly because even the most casual mountaineer can find good equipment, tents and waterproof clothes. If you’re really in adventure mode, however, you might challenge yourself to spend two days close to nature without all of the creature comforts. Search for food and water, hunt, build a shelter, and start a fire the old-fashioned way without matches or a lighter.
6. Get lost on purpose
Getting lost in an unknown city is the best way to be spontaneous, to find exciting things and to meet interesting people (away from the crowds of tourists). You’ll be amazed how quickly you stumble upon unexpected treasures and off-the-beaten-track experiences.
7. Trust a friend to organize your trip
Set a budget and leave the organization to a close friend. Before you leave, you’ll simply receive an envelope with reservations, GPS coordinates and a list of necessary things to pack. Sounds quite spontaneous, doesn’t it?
8. Close your eyes and spin!
Still haven’t got plans for the weekend? You don’t need any. Just spread out a map of the country/continent in front of you, or, if you’re feeling particularly brave, grab a globe and give it a spin. Close your eyes and let your finger be the travel agent – wherever it lands is your next destination! We should point out that if your finger lands in the middle of the ocean, you might want to take a second stab at it…
9. Cure your boredom with an adventurous challenge
Stop. Take a deep breath. Grab “203 Travel Challenges” (it was designed as a travel book but it also acts as a random challenge-generator). Open the book to a random page and complete the challenge waiting for you there. Prepare to get out of your comfort zone and leave the rest to serendipity!
How many of these challenges have you done? Share your experience and become an inspiration to others. Send a story and a couple of photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.