Sunday, February 18, 2018

How to Find Balance Between Travel Planning and Spontaneity

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Are you thinking of doing some traveling in the near future? If so, how much planning are you doing ahead of time? Most people want to have a little spontaneity while traveling, while not putting too much at risk along the way (or wasting too much time being indecisive in the moment). Although it can be a constant struggle for a planner like me, it’s certainly possible to balance the planning side of things with the need to keep things a little spontaneous. When you do manage to achieve the perfect blend, you'll walk away with a trip that is reliable, safe, and a whole lot of fun. If you ask me, that’s what traveling should be all about: it makes it possible for you to get the best of both worlds. Here's how to get the balance of your travel plans just right.

Locate Yourself in the Middle of the Action

It’s so much easier to be spontaneous when you’re located right in the heart of the city where everything is happening. There will be plenty of opportunities to do things that you ordinarily would never have done (like wearing trash bag ponchos and scalping tickets to a football game last minute). Of course, it’s a lot harder to be spontaneous when your location is in the middle of nowhere and there’s not much happening near you, so remember that when you start selecting places to stay on your travels.

Plan Where You're Going to Sleep Each Night Ahead of Time

This is one thing you don’t want to leave to chance because, especially when you’re in a new place, it’s always best to know where you’re going to be spending each night. Find a room for rent while you’re still at home and then you'll have the security of knowing that you’ll always have a base to go back to. This doesn’t take away from the spontaneity; if anything it makes it more possible than ever because there’ll be one less thing for you to worry about!

Use an App That Tells You What’s Happening Near You

Modern technology is there to help you when it comes to having a good time in a place you’re visiting for the first time. You can find plenty of local apps that give you good information on what’s happening in the area where you’re located. Don’t forget about these options because they offer you the easiest ways to find what you need to know. From there, you can have fun and do whatever might be happening that day without having to plan it all out in advance.

Find the Cheapest Possible Flights

Finding cheap flights is definitely something that has to be planned. You don’t want to leave things until the last minute and then end up having to pay more to get where you're going. Luckily, that doesn’t have to happen because cheap flights have never been easier to find. There are comparison sites out there that tell you where to go and when to buy if you want to get the best possible deal on your flights, so make the most of those.


Leave Room in Your Schedule Each Day for Exploration

Even if you do want to plan out your days, you can always leave room in your schedule for doing things that you haven’t planned. Leaving a little free time in your schedule will make that possible- and sometimes I've literally scheduled "free time" into the spreadsheet of our travel itinerary. Then you can explore your location and do things that you would otherwise never even known about, let alone planned to do. Make sure you have time for that spontaneity each and every day.

For Activities and Events That Require Tickets, Book Early

There are some activities and events that can get sold out and booked up pretty early, so buy tickets for those early on. You don’t want to show up day off only to find that the things you wanted to do are no longer possible because you didn’t book them in advance. Not everything can be done spur of the moment. It’s just as important to plan out the things that require planning.

Talk to the Locals More

You should definitely make the most of local people and their knowledge of the area you’re in while you’re traveling. They’ll be able to tell you about the places and the activities that you should definitely head to during your stay because they know the place inside out, especially restaurants and fun activities. No one is in a better position to inspire you to do new things spontaneously than local people who know the area well. It all starts with making an effort to talk to them and learn from them.

Research the Public Transportation Options

This is one element of your planning that should definitely be done before you leave home. You need to have a decent idea of how you’re going to get around your location once you’re there. Do you need to rent a car? Or are the trains and buses suitable for your needs? You’ll only be able to be spontaneous and have a good time if you are able to get around easily enough and cheaply enough, so don’t forget about this.

Follow What Sparks Your Interest

If you’re doing something else, but spot something going on that catches your eye, you should just go for it! Too many people make plans and then stick to them more rigidly than they should. Don’t allow yourself to miss out on things that are going on just because you’ve got some other plans you made when you were still back home. That’s never the way it should be when you’re traveling. Be alert to what’s going on around you and follow whatever takes your interest.


Read Bar and Restaurant Reviews

The last thing you want is to have a bad experience in a restaurant. Paying to eat out can be costly, so you don’t want to waste money by eating or drinking in the wrong locations. That’s why you should read reviews of the most popular bars and restaurants in the place that you’re heading to. Doing this will help you avoid wasting your money during your trip, especially on disappointing or bad food.

Don’t be Afraid to Get Lost

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with getting lost, so you shouldn’t be afraid of doing this while traveling. It’s when you get lost (within reason) that some of the most interesting things can happen to you. This is when you learn new things and see new sights on your journey. If you’re too afraid of getting lost, you’ll play it too safe and then there will be no room at all for spontaneity. Stay safe, but give yourself the chance to get a little lost.

Make Sure Your Paperwork and Documentation Are Protected

One thing you can’t be spontaneous about is your paperwork and documentation. If you don’t take the protection of these items seriously, you could lose them, which would make further travel impossible. Not to mention, the dangers and stress caused by losing such important documents when you’re on a foreign country. Just make sure all this stuff is protected whenever you’re traveling anywhere.


Be Open to Things You Normally Wouldn’t Be Open To

Being open to new things means not judging them before you’ve tried them. You’ll never be spontaneous in your approach to travel if you have already decided the things you do and don’t like before you’ve actually tried them. When you’re traveling you have to be open to doing things that you might never normally do back home. It’s all part of the fun!

Keep Yourself Safe

Finally, make sure you take your own personal safety as seriously as you can. After all, nothing is more important than returning home safely. Traveling can be risky and dangerous in some ways, especially if you’re doing it alone. But as long as you know how to be safe and look after yourself, you should be fine.

The best kind of travel always straddles the dividing line between spontaneity and planning, so make sure you remember these tips. It’s more than possible to plan out the things that need to be planned out while also leaving enough room for you to be spontaneous too! Have fun!



  1. I definitely struggle with this balance too! It's fun to discover new things you might not have known about, but if you plan you find lots of great places. I totally agree with at least a place to sleep every night! When we travel somewhere I usually try to leave one day or a couple of afternoons open without plans so we can explore.

  2. So many great tips!! My dad was always a huge planner whenever we went on vacations. He'd have a whole itinerary drafted up for us before we even left home haha but I love playing it by ear (aside from where we're sleeping, of course!) and seeing want we find in the moment. We do a little bit of research in advance to see what's around, but generally, we just go with the flow of the trip :)

  3. I really like the idea of local apps, never thought of that before! Thanks for sharing and happy travels :)


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