Earlier this year I joined a Blogger’s Book Club that was formed by Carolann from Finding Ithika and Christy from Planes, Trains, and Running Shoes. I hadn’t read Carolann’s blog before the blogger’s book club, but I’m so glad that I found her blog! Not only is she an avid reader like myself, but she also loves to travel with her husband. They’ve had some crazy moves recently since her husband is in the military, and through it all I’ve loved the fact that she continues to have such a positive outlook on everything. I’m so glad that she’s guest posting for me about a topic that I struggle with a lot myself!
Hi, readers of The Wandering Weekenders! I’m Carolann, and I blog at Finding Ithaka. My husband, Nick, is in the military, and we are stationed in Hawaii. I write about our travels and our life with the military, which is always completely crazy and unpredictable. I love it.
I adore Ashley’s blog. I used her tips to plan out my trip to Universal Studios over the summer. Nick and I would even go over her posts while eating breakfast to make sure we were prepared for the day! So, I was honored when she asked me to write a guest post.
My husband has been in the military since before I even knew him. He enlisted right out of high school, so this is the only life that we’ve ever known. Because his schedule is so unpredictable, I have had to get used to cancelled plans and changes in plans.
I’ll never forget the day Nick called me while he was deployed. Through a bad connection, he asked me to postpone our wedding by two months. So, you could say that I’ve learned how to go with the flow.
Because Nick’s schedule is so unpredictable, it’s hard for us to plan trips. Sometimes we have such short notice for a trip that we just wing it.
But those have become my favorite kinds of trips, so I thought I would talk about how awesome spontaneous trips are, how you can set yourself up to be ready for them, and how you can enjoy them without stressing.
Because who wants to miss out on an opportunity to go somewhere just because you haven’t had time to plan it out?
Best trip ever.
This past winter, we found out that Nick could take vacation for as long as he wanted. This doesn’t happen too often when you are in the military, so we jumped on Nick’s chance to have a few weeks off. Within a matter of days, we decided to go to Denmark for our first trip to Europe, and we got his sister to go with us. The three of us got there with no plans and no expectations.
I never would have imagined that we would take our first trip to Europe completely on a whim, but it was either go at the last minute or don’t go at all.
Not having plans meant that we were free to do whatever came our way. We would talk to locals and actually have time to go do the things they recommended to us. We went to the same place for breakfast every day, spending a few hours drinking coffee and just reveling in where we were. Because we weren’t on a schedule, we could walk around and pop into places that looked interesting or spend a few hours sitting at a cafe drinking wine.
Sure, we probably could have done more if we had time to plan it out, but I had so much fun on that trip. I learned so much about Denmark just by being able to take my time to breathe it all in. It was stress free, and we still saw a lot. It was one of my favorite trips ever.
So, here are my best tips for being more spontaneous!
1. We save for vacations even when we aren’t planning one. Each month, we put whatever we can in a savings account towards vacations. Some months we have less to put in, but usually we are pretty good about setting some money aside. So when a random 3-day weekend comes up, we have the money to splurge and not worry about it.
2. Be open to anything. If you are open to going somewhere for a weekend instead of a whole week, or if you are open to going somewhere you hadn’t thought of before, or if you’re open to dropping everything and going on a road trip, you will be surprised at how many of these opportunities come your way.
3. Have a few ideas on the back burner. I’m always thinking about where I wan to go next or jotting down names of restaurants that people mention. I already know that we are heading to the Big Island in Hawaii as soon as Nick gets some free time.
4. Use blogs and websites that you trust. You can easily plan out an entire day in a few minutes or at least get ideas for where to go using blogs. I had fair warning that we were going to Universal, but we were also in the middle of moving, so I didn’t have much time to plan out our trip. Having all of Ashley’s tips laid out for me meant that all I had to do was read her blog, which didn’t take very long. Because I read her blog weekly, I already knew that I could trust her and that we had similar tastes. Thanks Ashley!
5. Know that the trip won’t be perfect. You might not get to see everything you wanted to see. You might not get reservations for that hot new restaurant. But travel isn’t about knocking things off of your bucket list. Travel isn’t about seeing every single landmark.
For me, travel is about exploring. Travel is about immersing yourself in something new. Travel is about opening yourself up to new experiences and new ways of thinking. Travel is about spending time with people you love for a few completely carefree, stress-free days.
Bonus tip for those of you who think I’m nuts or who, unlike me, actually have time to plan out trips:
6. And if the idea of a spontaneous trip scares you, you don’t have plan a completely last minute vacation with no plans. You can be spontaneous on any trip.
One thing that I love to do when we are on vacation is to set aside a day, or just even an afternoon, where we have nothing planned. There might be something you want to go back to, or some place you discover that you hadn’t planned to go, or a restaurant that a local recommends to you. If you have the time open, you’ll be able to do those things that you didn’t know about before you got there.
Like a few months ago when we went to California to visit Nick’s family — we had a free day and randomly decided to drive to Yosemite for a day.
Our unpredictable life has freed me in a lot of ways. I no longer feel like everything has to be perfect. I no longer stress over details that don’t really matter. I’ve learned to just go with the flow, and that is how a spontaneous trip can really change your outlook on life.
So when the opportunity comes up, don’t be afraid of the spontaneous trip! If you do take a spontaneous trip or have a spontaneous day, let me know how it goes. What are your most spontaneous travel adventures?