How To Go Travelling Without Making Any Plans
For the free-spirited and spontaneous, planning a holiday might not fit with leading an impulsive and carefree lifestyle. With all the schedules, bookings, dates and non-refundable deposits, holiday planning can be stressful and limiting. So whether your holiday spans a few days or whole months, if you love the idea of simply hitting the open road or seeing where things take you, follow these tips to travelling without a plan – none at all. Yep you read right, no plans at all.
Clear Your Mind
For the most organised travellers freaking out about a booking-free, planner-less trip – fear not. This first tip is not just for the free spirits, but for everyone. Even if you can’t bear to take on every tip below, starting any holiday by clearing your mind is solid advice.
Opening yourself up to new cultures, sounds, sights and smells, to stories and radically altered lifestyles and to different paces means you’ll be receptive to new things. You’ll see more, do more and enjoy more. All while stressing less and being more mindful.
Take Local Advice
To get the most of out a holiday on the fly, tap into local advice and knowledge. Whether it’s residents, expats or other holiday-makers, ask questions endlessly wherever you go. Learn from the mistakes, experience and tips of those who have gone before you.
Find out where to get the best cao lau noodles in Hoi An, Vietnam, by wandering through markets and asking the merchants. Chat with the staff of that coffee bar in Queenstown, New Zealand, to suss out the optimum ski runs and times (and how to avoid crowds). It’s these impromptu tips that often lead to the most rewarding experiences.
Prepare For Change And Challenge
Letting your nose or heart (or whichever limb you extend into the world first) lead you on your adventures means you have to be open to change and challenges. When you’re travelling without a plan, everything might not go perfectly, there will be delays, and you’ll occasionally encounter a bum steer. But through the few things that don’t yield reward and amazement while being spontaneous, you’ll develop a resilience and flexibility, key ingredients for brilliant future adventures.
Take A Good Book And Keep A Diary
Having a good book or magazine in your bag when on holiday is a tried and tested antidote to any delays you might incur as part of flying by the seat of your pants. For literature that demands adventure, try any of these eight titles.
Keep a diary to document all the amazing places and people you encounter on your holiday, even if it’s only in the form of brief notes. It’ll take up any of that extra time you have on the road, and encourage reflection after the fact. If nothing else, it will probably make you laugh.
Safety Is Still A Priority
Travelling without a plan doesn’t mean you should neglect your safety while away. Being an adventurer isn’t synonymous with taking unnecessary risks or compromising your financial or personal security. This should always be your number one priority.
Take advice and safety warnings seriously, put faith in your instincts and wherever possible, let friends, family or the staff of your chosen accommodation know where you are, and where you’re headed. And always register with Smartraveller.
Be Prepared, And Have A Backup
As much as it’s fantastic to float from place to place like the free spirit you are, it pays to have a few basics in mind. If you struggle to find accommodation, where’s the hostel hotspot you can use as a backup? Which are the dodgy parts of town you need to avoid? Where can you store your luggage in a pinch? Which currency will you need to use? (Looking at you, EU countries without the Euro.)
These are all things you can find out with a bit of online research in advance, or from asking fellow travellers or locals (see point #2). Travelling without a plan doesn’t mean being naive or unprepared.
Soak It All Up
One of the best things about going on a holiday without plans is that you can really sink into the moment. Not being locked into flights, hotels or activities means that if you fall in love with the west Cuban town of Viñales for example, or want more time those like-minded travellers you met in Broome, you can ride out the good times until you’re truly ready for change. And it’s all thanks to being utterly plan-free.
While you’re here, find out more about what you should know (and also don’t need to know) on your first trip.
(Main image: Coachella / Facebook)