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This post was last updated on December 14th, 2018 at 09:05 am
What is travel if it’s not about spontaneity? Certain things do have to be planned, of course – flights, accommodation, internal travel options. But if you are the type of person to meticulously plan your trip minute by minute, you may find that your adventure loses some of its authenticity. Scheduling every single activity may make you feel more in control of your situation, but honestly, by simply ‘going with the flow’ you may find that you end up having a much more memorable time. It might scare you at first, but try and see not having a plan as part of the fun. Wander around and take in your new surroundings and the culture around you – who knows, you might stumble across a fabulous restaurant or a great excursion to go on that you would never have noticed otherwise. Notice how those unplanned nights back at home are always the most fun? Well, the same applies to traveling. Here are a few ways you can embrace spontaneity for a trip away you’ll never forget.
Avoid tourist traps
Okay, so some tourist traps exist for a reason. Some of the most beautiful and interesting places in the world could be regarded as ‘tourist traps’ – just look at the Taj Mahal, or Chichen Itza, for example. So some of these are definitely worth visiting, even though you might find them overrun with visitors. But if you want a more authentic experience, limit yourself to a certain number of tourist attractions per destination. It can be very easy to get caught up in them, relying on travel websites to point you in their direction and taking advice from tourist-focused guides. But by making a deal with yourself that you will only indulge in a select few, you will automatically be opening yourself up to much more ‘off the beaten track’ experiences. Speak to some locals and pay attention to posters and flyers that are put up in shops and eateries – most of these will be advertising local events. Also, consider picking up a copy of a local newspaper or magazine, as usually these will have information about what’s going on in the area and you can find something cool to do.
Talk to local people
What’s the point in going traveling at all if you don’t make any effort to speak to the local people? Sure, sticking with people from your own nationality can be reassuring, especially if you get homesick frequently. But by keeping your inner circle quite so exclusive, you could be missing out on some amazing opportunities. The locals are the ones with the real knowledge about the place, and by getting to know a couple of them, you could get a completely different view of your destination. Plus, the locals know all the hacks that tourists don’t, and could help you avoid getting ripped off by travel scams. You can start by chatting to the people you are staying with, such as your hotel staff or your local host, if you are staying via a service such as Air BnB. Most locals are happy to share their knowledge with travelers and who knows – if you make a good impression, you may even end up getting invited to an authentic cultural event, meal or ceremony.
Deciding that you are going to be impulsive and spontaneous is one thing. But, somewhat ironically, you have to make sure you are prepared to be that way too. Make sure you have all the things you need by your side, such as clothing and footwear. After all, you wouldn’t want to have to turn down that amazing mountain trek you found because you only brought flip flops with you. In a similar way, you also need to make sure you are fit and healthy throughout your trip so that you can fully embrace any spontaneity that arises. Asthmatic? Keep your travel inhaler on your person at all times, and make sure you pack a spare in your larger bag too. You may also want to consider how you are going to deal with your period, such as using something like norethisterone for period delay. If you have traveled out to a Thai island for some deep sea diving, but whatever reason doesn’t have access to sanitary wear, the last thing you want is your period stopping you joining in the fun. Plus, for some women, their period can easily hinder their travel experience due to it making them feel uncomfortable and even causing severe pain. By being aware of when your period is due you can take the necessary precautions to delay it, should you want to. Another way to always be prepared is to ensure that you bring along a cell phone with long battery life. This could mean bringing an old style cell phone along with you (famous for their amazing battery life) or investing in a portable charger for your smartphone. Having access to a working phone at all times enables you to be much more flexible with your time and with your adventures, as it means no matter where you end up you will always be able to call someone, should you need to.
Leave one day blank
If being spontaneous for the complete duration of your trip sounds like a little too much for you at this stage, simply dedicate one day per destination for ‘going off road.’ Of course, it’s important to remember that you still need to be savvy – not every spontaneous idea is going to work out, and there is always the chance that you might just end up somewhere a bit rubbish. But, you never know unless you try! Get up and leave your accommodation in the morning and just start walking around – having no plan in sight is all part of the experience. If it doesn’t work out, just put it down as a learning curve, but there is always a chance that it will add something really special and unique to your travels.