In Praise of Spontaneous Travel

You seriously don’t have a hotel room booked?
I am writing this in Warsaw, Poland.

That in and of itself isn’t that impressive. Many people visit Poland every year.

What makes this special is that up until a few days ago, I had no idea I was going to be in Poland. In fact, until yesterday, I had no idea I was going to spend the night in Warsaw.

My original plan was to fly to Germany early for the ITB conference and just hang out in Berlin for a week while I waited for it to start. I realized that Berlin wasn’t far from Poland, taking the train was very easy and I had never been to Poland before. Even factoring in the cost of a train ticket, I’d probably save money by staying in Poland rather than in Berlin.

So I decided to go to Poland.

There is a lot to be said for trip planning, however, my most memorable trips tend to be those which occurred at the spur of the moment. No booking, no planning, no scheduling and no research.

One of the primary benefits to traveling is the freedom it gives you and not being bound by a schedule is extremely liberating.

There are some people I know who are terrified at the idea of traveling internationally with no plans. If everything isn’t planned out well in advance, there is no way they would ever consider leaving home. Yet, once you have done it and have built up some confidence, you realize there is actually little risk.

The odds of not finding a place to sleep in Poland during February is zero. The weather is not that bad and more importantly, I’m having fun winging it.

If you haven’t traveled somewhere on a moments notice, I strongly suggest doing it. If booking a last minute international flight doesn’t suit you, then try jumping in your car or taking a train or bus somewhere an hour away. I promise you will enjoy it.

Spontaneity can make a great trip even better.

Tomorrow I’m heading to Krakow and I don’t have a room or my train ticket reserved….and I can’t wait!

9 thoughts on “In Praise of Spontaneous Travel”

  1. Well said! I started off my trip back in June 2012 with “a plan”. As soon as I hit the road I realized the best part of my journey is the freedom it gives me and decided to use the original plan to inspire me in times when I might be exhausted. It turns out putting aside the plan was one of the best things I could do. I have traveled and experienced places in deeper, more meaningful way than I would have expected to. I met the love of my life and after several months of courting we’re married and recently started an NGO project in the developing world. What’s best is that I feel a freedom and an interest in living like never before.

    Thank you Gary for your inspirational words. I have been following you for months and hope to run in to you on the journey ahead.

  2. I am happy to see you went to Poland. Not many realize how close it is from Berlin. I am a polish person living in Berlin (when I am not travelling). I will be working on ITB this year and am really hoping to bump into you at some point during the fair!:) You are an inspiration!

  3. Hi from Madrid, Thanks for this post!!!!! You are inspiring for me , even though i am in the travel biz in Spain, the work keeps me traveling here, Portugal and a bit of Italy.

    best, Rachel

  4. Yeah . . . I did this once with a trip to Seoul in the winter. Didn’t tell anybody I was going, then almost fell off the side of a mountain (slippery), after which I called my former common law wife to tell her if nobody heard from me for a couple weeks to start looking for the remains in Seoul. She asked what the hell I was doing in Seoul. I said ,”taking a trip.” She asked when I decided to do this, I said, “two days ago.” The take-away was: it’s probably a good idea to let somebody know ahead of time, just in case.

  5. I totally agree – some of my best travel memories are from totally spontaneous trips: Cambodia, Belize, Paris…so much fun to change it up on a whim! Have fun in Poland – we loved Krakow. We went to a great pub in the Jewish district called Alchemie – recommended!

  6. So true.. the trip that change my life was in Poland (I’m originally from Warsaw, so I don’t know if that counts): I was 18 and scared of everything and then I decided to just hop on a train and go backpacking in Bieszczady, which is one of the most remote regions of Poland.. and off season! I survived, and been traveling the world ever since. I’m looking forward to your updates!

  7. Greetings from China. Agreed. Only way to go, if you can … I’m flying into Africa – Cairo – one-way, with no plan yet, except heading south towards Cape Town …

  8. I agree, sometimes spur-of-the moment travels are more memorable and exciting as opposed to well-planned itineraries. it gives you a sense of mystery or what’s-gonna-happen-next? feeling, wonder and heightened interest/curiosity as you wait for what’s in store for you.

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