To be honest I am the personality type who gets a little bit anxious about time. I have nightmares about being late for work and when my husband picks me up from somewhere 5 minutes after the time he promised I have to control the inner monster in me that thinks he has wronged me. When it comes to travel I can see the appeal of packed agendas and planning for every last minute. You paid a lot for these tickets to a place you have never been before and you want to make the most of every second. Putting so much pressure on you travel plans can suck the energy out of the adventure and anticipation of discovering new places. Although spontaneous travel may not be for everyone, there are a few things you can do to bring out your inner backpacker:
1) Decide if you want to cross a lot of borders or explore one particular country. Eurail passes could allow you to go to Europe and see a lot of different countries. You can travel by train overnight saving on accommodation and waking up to a brand new experience! If you are going to a country that is more spread out I am still weary of renting vehicles. They will often hold well over $1000 on your credit card for insurance purposes. Its a big chunk to part with as soon as you walk of the plane. Stick to public transit.
2) Travel in the off season for your destination. I say this all the time but we still all feel compelled to travel in December and August. You can save A LOT of money by travelling in the fall or spring. The weather is also often milder in these off seasons, which makes foot travel even more pleasurable. You can also block yourself for a period of time and book a last minute ticket deal for whatever destination available! You will also find hotels selling off rooms for cheap.
3) Pack sensibly. If you decide to run off for South America for hiking, don’t go buying a bunch of “super cute” sundresses for your fun in the sun. It is pretty easy to get crazy with pre-trip spending. Think about essentials like good shoes and toiletries. Plan for the type of activities you will be partaking in. You can read my previous post on how pack smarter.
4) Try to talk to a few people. If you read my last post you know that generally I avoid talking to people, but the local perspective will get you better food, and experience. After all we all want to see the country like someone who lives there. Often times just an email to our Airbnb host gave us tips on the best times to see the touristy stuff like museums, the best restaurant suggestions and what tourist traps to avoid, and basically anything else only a local would know. I found these suggestions are more genuine than say a tour company or hotel where they are receiving commission for sending eager travelers to businesses. Airbnb CityHost feature is another great way that could put you in touch with very interest locals who are willing to show you around.
Get brave. Spontaneous travel is going to feel scary and uncomfortable but you just have to ride the wave. It always seems that the best travel memories we make are the ones we were not planning for. Be safe about it. Do not get yourself in trouble in the name of adventure, so keep your head on straight and have fun!