My life of travel has not been very organized ever since we started flying standby. However, this truly makes for spontaneous trips! Plenty of our trips over the past three years have been planned simply the day or even night before departure because flying standby is always such a gamble. Learn more about my adventures flying standby.
Now, planning a last minute vacation is not for the faint of heart. This will only lack stress if you are willing to plan as you go. For my planners and preppers, you might have to let go of the desire to control every second of the vacation.
Remember that spontaneity does not necessarily mean that your trip will be stressful. It’s a vacation so stop obsessing over every detail like you would during your work week. Time to go with flow!
1. Stop being picky
Stop it right now. When our trip to Hawaii was a bust, I was super bummed and wanted nothing more than to go to a beach. However, it wasn’t going to happen and a flight to Las Vegas was open so we went for it and I still had a great time!
So, when looking for a destination, especially if you intend on flying, check out places that you might have never considered before. These places might actually be cheaper to fly to as well and also have more available flights. Random places feed spontaneous travel!
2. Check the weather and consider the time of year
If you haven’t thought of a destination yet, but you have the days to indulge in travel, the best thing to do to decide on a place to go is to check the local weather forecast at your desired destination and consider the time of year you plan on going. You don’t want to be caught in the Bahamas during a deadly hurricane or backpacking in Utah during the heat of summer. The weather forecast and time of year are two the first things you should do to narrow down your last-minute vacation spot.
3. Don’t plan it all before you leave
If you are running out of time and need to leave for the airport in just two hours, don’t bother planning your whole vacation in this time frame. Get an idea of what you think you might be doing depending on your locale (beach, desert, city, mountains, etc), and spend that time packing so you don’t forget anything.
An ideal way to make a spontaneous vacation work is to only roughly plan out the first and/or second day of the vacation before you arrive, or at least figure out where you will be staying the first night. Now, this can only be safely done if you are going to a place where you can find adequate wifi in order to search for a rough idea of what to do the other days while you have your morning coffee.
If you are going to a more remote place, you could always purchase wifi on the plane if applicable to research a rough itinerary (for those on a time crunch), purchase a book or ebook, or, if you are super adventurous, ask the locals once you arrive.
4. Define your budget
How much mula are you willing to spend on this spontaneous getaway? Your budget will then determine where you will stay during your vacation, how you will get around, and what you will do.
If you are a budget traveler like me, consider camping or staying in hostels, traveling by bus, train, bike, foot, or hitchhiking, and doing some free experiences such as hiking or snorkeling.
5. Create a must-see list
If you are leaving tomorrow and only have a small amount of time to decide what you will do once you are in your desired location, do a little Google search to research the coolest things to check out in the area.
There have been a couple times where I didn’t Google my trip location and I missed out on some of the most popular and beautiful sites to see in the area. Make sure to write down or keep a note of these attractions, whether it be a specific beach or a waterfall hike.
6. Let the experiences come to you
Some of my best travel stories are of times when I just went with the flow, like when we found the perfect camp spot on a beach by deciding to check out the smallest ‘camping’ sign on the side of the road that was never mentioned in any guidebook or online article. I also love the spontaneous time when we found ourselves in New York City after a generous stranger drove us from the Appalachian Trail (during our 2013 thru-hike) right to the Bronx, then we discovered that a friend actually lived in the city and we stayed there for free for a week! Plans will happen no matter if you decide to plan them or not. As long as you say yes to new and exciting experiences, your trip will turn out just fine.
Have you gone on a last-minute vacation? Tell me about your spontaneous travel in the comments below!