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.

The Wandering Weekenders- Carolann from Finding Ithika is guest posting and giving tips on how to be a spontaneous traveler!

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.

The Wandering Weekenders- Carolann from Finding Ithika is guest posting and giving tips on how to be a spontaneous traveler!

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?

The Wandering Weekenders- Carolann from Finding Ithika is guest posting and giving tips on how to be a spontaneous traveler!

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.

The Wandering Weekenders- Carolann from Finding Ithika is guest posting and giving tips on how to be a spontaneous traveler!

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!

The Wandering Weekenders- Carolann from Finding Ithika is guest posting and giving tips on how to be a spontaneous traveler!

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.

The Wandering Weekenders- Carolann from Finding Ithika is guest posting and giving tips on how to be a spontaneous traveler!

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.

The Wandering Weekenders- Carolann from Finding Ithika is guest posting and giving tips on how to be a spontaneous traveler!

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.

The Wandering Weekenders- Carolann from Finding Ithika is guest posting and giving tips on how to be a spontaneous traveler!

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?

The Wandering Weekenders- Carolann from Finding Ithika is guest posting and giving tips on how to be a spontaneous traveler!

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The Wandering Weekenders- Carolann from Finding Ithika is guest posting and giving tips on how to be a spontaneous traveler!

  • What great tips! I am the worst at doing pretty much anything spontaneous since I’m such a planner but sometimes the best things come out of something unplanned! And kudos for you for being able to put together a trip to Europe on a whim! <3, Pamela Sequins & Sea Breezes

    • I used to be such a planner, but with my husband’s job, I kind of had no choice but to start going with the flow! I agree, sometimes the best things are unplanned! I hope these tips help you :))

  • Love this & so many stunning photos! Sometimes with travel it can be so hard to not panic about trying to fit in as much as possible, so your trip to Denmark sounds amazing, just being able to relax and enjoy without pressure to check everything off of a list.

    • I was kind of worried about our trip to Europe, honestly. I was afraid that by going so spontaneously, without doing much research or planning, that we would miss out. But we had so much fun just going with the flow and we ended up seeing so much! For our honeymoon, we took a very much planned out trip to New Zealand, and that was awesome too, but there is something about spontaneous trips that are just magical.

  • Great tips! I love spontaneous trips. Sometimes they turn out even better than the planned ones.

    • Thanks Heidi! I definitely agree!!

  • These are such great tips. We honeymooned on the Big Island and tried to be as spontaneous as we could. You will love it, we had the best time!

    • I can’t wait to go to the Big Island! We went a few years ago, but just for one night. We got to see the volcanoes and the lava glow and now I am dying to go back and see more. Even if we end up going at the last minute, it won’t be totally spontaneous, because I already know so many things I want to do!!

  • Jen

    I would love to be a spontaneous traveler but the Army tends to get in the way a little bit. Maybe when my husband retires we can travel and see more new places.

    • I definitely hear you on that one. My husband has been lucky enough to get a few weeks off for all of our PCSing over the past few years. We snuck in our trip to Denmark over a PCS and it was so much fun, but I know we won’t always get so lucky.

  • You and your attitude seriously are so inspiring! Being a ridiculous planner and Type A personality, I tend to miss out on things because if it’s not on the schedule, we aren’t doing it. But you’re right – you can miss so much if you don’t just go with the flow sometimes. Thanks for these great tips!

    • I can totally understand that! But I started looking at it like, if we don’t do this on the fly, we might not do it at all. I look back at how much of a planner I used to be and I know that the only way I got to be more relaxed about traveling is because of my husband’s crazy schedule. I really do hope I helped and let me know when you take your next spontaneous trip 🙂

  • While I tend towards planning my trips (just because I like the planning almost as much as the going!), we’ve done several last minute trips over the years, and they end up being SO much fun! Once, my sister, my then-boyfriend (now husband), and a friend of ours just decided to go to Savannah at 10:30 at night. It was totally spontaneous and very freeing. 🙂

    • It is such a freeing thing to just do something like that so spontaneously! That trip sounds awesome. And that’s a good point about enjoying the planning. I think that part of me just doesn’t like the whole planning and researching process. I find it so overwhelming, which is why I love coming to a blog like Ashley’s and having so many tips already laid out for me. My husband enjoys planning and finding the perfect places to eat so I usually let him do that if we are planning a trip. I think that being able to do a little bit of both planning and spontaneity can be the perfect compromise.

  • These are such wise tips!

  • Love these tips! My husband also has a job where we don’t have much control over his schedule, so it’s hard to plan! I do try to plan as much as possible (can’t help it. just my personality! Haha), but I love leaving a spontaneous afternoon where we can do whatever!

    • I’m the same type of person Olya where I want to super plan everything, and it’s hard to take a step back and try to be spontaneous. Sometimes work or life focuses us to be a little bit more spontaneous, and I need to remember to be open to whatever comes our way. Like enjoying a random afternoon out with my husband!

  • I love the idea of spontaneous vacations! We once decided to go on a weekend trip and left just a couple hours after making the decision! It was SO much fun!!
    Evelina @ Fortunate House

    • That is awesome! Now I kind of want to do that this weekend….

  • I love spontaneity!! I recently went on holiday with a hotel booked for only a few days, then I decided while there where to go/where to stay when I was on the ground. Was quite liberating not having a set schedule!! Great tips! !

    • That’s such a great idea! You know where you are going but you know you can do whatever you want. It’s such a great feeling, so liberating to be able to to whatever you want.

  • Wow, Yosemite is gorgeous! That’s up there on my list of places to travel to. We love spontaneous adventures, they’re the best. My parents own an RV so you can often find us taking off on unplanned adventures at the last hour. One of my fondest childhood memories was when my mom packed up the car one afternoon and told us to jump in. 8 hours later, we arrived at Disney and had one of the most memorable weekends. I guess you could say spontaneity runs in the family!

    • Yosemite is one of my favorite places, ever. We were visiting my husband’s family in California over the summer but had a day to ourselves. I said to him, why not drive to Yosemite?! It was so much fun, and I’m so glad we did it. Even though we were only there for a day, it is going down as one of the best spontaneous trips we’ve ever taken. Your mom sounds amazing and I think that surprise weekend trip to Disney is just the most awesome thing to do with your kids. An RV is pretty much guaranteed spontaneity – I think I need one!!

  • Oh my gosh! Wow, you are very good at going with the flow, with the wedding and everything. It’s definitely a good skill to have and mindset to keep though! 🙂 This is awesome and so true. I think spontaneous travel is really fun, and a lot of time last minute trips, tickets, decisions make for my favorite memories on a trip. Great post. 🙂 XO – Alexandra

    Simply Alexandra: My Favorite Things

    • They can make for my favorite memories too! Thank you! After 9 years with my husband in the military, I definitely learned a thing or two about going with the flow. It’s a “if you can’t beat them, join them,” kinda thing. But I’m so glad for these experiences but they have made me so much more flexible, open-minded, and ready for just about anything!!

  • I’m such a planner at heart, but I love the spontaneous trips too! My sister and I did a semi-spontaneous trip to Disney/Universal and it was so much fun. I think putting some money in a vacation savings account is so important because the hardest part of any trip is the money involved so if you’re not stressing too much about that, it makes it more fun!

    • Knowing you have the money saved definitely makes traveling a lot more fun and less stressful. When I know I have saved for the trip, I love splurging on a good meal or fancy cup of coffee without guilt! From reading the comments on my post I am realizing that I just am not a planner at heart. I like being spontaneous or just letting other people plan things, but I can see how enjoying the planning process would make a trip even more enjoyable!

  • I really enjoy Carolann’s positive, spontaneous outlook! She’s had so much practice with just going for it! I’d take her tips on spontaneity any day! I’m a hard core planner but I love the idea of having a vacation savings even when there are none in the works. Genius!

    • Thank you Audrey! When Nick and I first got married and we started making our budget, it was Nick’s idea to save money for spontaneous trip so I have to give him credit for this genius idea! We just booked a semi-last-minute trip to California for our best friend’s engagement party, and thankfully we didn’t have to worry about the cost of the flights because we had already saved the money for just in case trips.

  • Great article! I definitely need to learn to be more spontaneous on trips. Love the tips as well 🙂

    Check out the latest article
    xoxo, Redhura

    • Thanks! Let me know if you do something totally spontaneous! I would love to hear about it.

  • Great post Carolann and I must say, after years and years of always pre-planning my trips down to the last detail, in the last couple of years, we have become a bit more free spirited and impulsive with our travel dates, destintaions and styles and I’ve got to say, I’m having a lot more fun exploring this way so I’m with you on the whole spontaneous travel front and we too love putting aside our extra pennies towards a travel pot. I’m all about the moments!

    • My whole life I was the same as you, Shikha! And my husband is such a planner. But there is something so freeing and so liberating about taking spontaneous trips or just being spontaneous in general. I think that it opens you up to your destination in a way that you can’t be if you’re just following an itinerary and checking things off your list. And yes, I will always save any extra money for traveling!!

  • Aww I love that Carolann posted this! Such a great post! I’ve always been a spontaneous traveler, and being married to a pilot, sometimes, that’s our only option! We once left for the airport with plans to go to Switzerland for the weekend, but when the flight ended up being oversold, we went to Las Vegas instead!

    • I’m the type of person that always has everything perfectly planned out, and I love that Carolann wrote this post because it helps me to see that I need to be ok when things don’t go my way or when our plans change. All that matters is that you’re going on a new adventure with the person that you love, right?