When I think of spontaneous travel, I imagine grabbing a last minute flight deal to some exotic destination for a weekend getaway. While this might work great for some people, making spontaneous decisions isn’t exactly my forte just yet, and it’s rare to have a free weekend. When I book a trip too early, I’ll overplan and ruin any chance of spontaneity. When I book a trip last-minute, it’s difficult to take vacation days or find cheap flights that work with my schedule. So how does one start on the path of spontaneous travel?
Behold, the Spontaneous Monthly Trip, your stepping stone to truly spontaneous travel.
Spontaneity Tip: Decide _when _you’re going to travel, but not where.
Step 1: Designate a weekend each month when you’re going to travel and set aside enough money for accommodations and some activities and meals. Block off this weekend entirely and make any arrangements necessary for an overnight trip. We have an automated pet feeder for our cat, so being gone for a weekend isn’t a big deal.
Step 2: Make a list of places within driving distance that you’d like to visit. For us, this could be Houston, the Gulf Coast, San Antonio, or so many other wonderful places in Texas. While these aren’t necessarily bucket list destinations, anyplace can be interesting for 48 hours, and there’s a lot to discover right in your own backyard. There’s actually an entire public access TV show dedicated to Texas day trips, called The Daytripper.
Step 3: The week before the trip, randomly select a destination from the list and book accommodations for Saturday night. If it’s not a good weekend to visit that place because of bad weather or a music festival that made hotel prices skyrocket, just pick another place on your list.
Step 4: Profit! Well, emotionally, at least. Pack your overnight bag on Friday, then head out Saturday morning for a spontaneous overnight adventure.
The beauty of the Spontaneous Monthly Trip is that I know when I’m going to travel, but not where. This means that I’ve budgeted the time away from home and can plan the rest of my life accordingly. No vacation days or flights are necessary since it’s only one night and within driving distance. I have the surprise of an unresearched destination combined with the comfort of knowing it’s someplace I want to visit. All of these places are close enough that we can always go back another time to explore a different area. If the trip is a bust, it’s only a weekend lost, and it was still an adventure!
One challenge will be finding the right balance of planning activities in advance. Even though it’s a last minute trip, my ability to overplan during a car ride knows no bounds. My friend suggested a compromise to counter this. Plan one activity in advance so that there is something to look forward to, but leave the rest of the trip up to chance and whims. He’s had a lot of fun taking the train to a random Metro stop in DC, then just picking random directions at street corners until he found something fun to do.
Our first trip will probably be in March, and I can’t wait to share our discoveries about spontaneous travel!