Traveling without a set schedule. It is possible!
Making travel plans can be stressful. As any seasoned traveller knows, nothing goes exactly as planned…especially travel itineraries! Attractions can be closed, accommodation overbooked, etc. The list of possibilities for things that can force the traveller to readjust their schedule is endless. This is why travel without a plan is a great way to live in the moment!
With that in mind, is it really possible to enjoy travel without a plan? Yes! Travel without a plan does not mean being unaware of the possibilities along the way. It simply means that the traveller can be flexible enough in their travel plans to put aside the scheduled stops and hotel reservations, and to rather enjoy the travel itself and to be more spontaneous with planned activities.
Travel without a plan is not only for long distance travel. In this time of Covid-19 restrictions, many travellers are focused more on their local areas. Travel without a plan via bicycle, for example, would be an ideal way to spend an impromptu day exploring ones local area.
The point of agenda free travel is to of course have recommended routes, etc in a well-considered manner, but to not worry about schedules, being tied down by reservations, must-haves or must-see places.
Merits of Travel Without a Plan
The merits of travel without a plan are not only to give the traveller a more relaxed travel experience, but to also expand overall the possibilities of the trip. Giving oneself the freedom to explore small local communities, affords the possibility to learn about the culture and history from the locals and not just what the tour book says. This makes it even more possible for the traveller to make friends with some of the people met along the way.
Affordability is a merit all its own. It is a common happening in many circumstances for local businesses to offer discounts on products for the traveller on an individual basis, especially when having a friendly conversation. Last minute deals and end of the day discounts for guided tours are also a possibility.
If one is travelling with a group, travel without a plan allows for everyone to have a voice in what to see or do, as none have made previous arrangements. This creates a more relaxed environment for all, and greatly reduces the stressors on the group as a whole.
Is it sustainable?
Travel without a plan is also sustainable due to the fact that the traveller is more focused on touring the local area of wherever they find themselves, and not going very far out of the way to visit specific sites. This localised touring will also help to funnel tourism profits back into the smaller communities, as many unlisted sites are small community-based attractions which are either wholly owned by locals, or employ locals. Eating at a local dining establishment which likely sources local food, not only contributes to the community but also offers some amazing meals which one may not have otherwise had the opportunity to try. Finding local stalls or handicraft shops make purchasing souvenirs which are made in the community as opposed to large tourist shops, easy. In many destinations along the well travelled roads one will easily find local craft shops, artisans and the like.
Not travelling far out of the way to visit specific sites also saves the traveller time and petrol. This not only saves automobile emissions, but also saves the amount of petrol used as well as the additional funds needed for it.
Furthermore, as the traveller without a plan is most likely travelling via road or rail, air travel and the correlating emissions is avoided. This would be a more sustainable option for those wanting to avoid air travel when going to a destination (example; a business happening) and would like to have some fun time touring on the way there.
Preparation Before Travel
When preparing for travel without a plan, research is a key element. Not being on a set schedule or agenda, does not mean being unprepared. It is essential that the traveller have readily available information regarding routes, available accommodation in each area and accessible activities in each area; with address, opening hours, cost and contact information. What this means in practical terms is that it is advisable for the no plan traveller to keep a packet of notes which contain accommodations and sites, which are organised by area so that when the traveller decides that ok, now we stop and look around for awhile, the available options are there with you to look through and see what fits at that moment or are available near the area. This is especially true in circumstances of long-distance or international travel and always good to have information on hand regarding sustainable activities and eco accommodation options. This may seem as though one is planning an itinerary, but it is not. It is simply making the effort to have the information easily accessible without wasting valuable time searching for an internet café when looking for local sites.
The Road Trip
To give an example by sharing this writer’s experience in travel without a plan: ‘When travelling on a budget, I found that trips by auto afforded not only more flexibility in travel plans but also more spontaneity. I had travelled enough with groups of friends to learn that mental flexibility is an important factor in the ability to enjoy one’s trip. If a person spends their time worrying about broken schedules, unmet plans or obligations, it takes away from their ability to just enjoy the travel experience as a whole. While on a car trip through mainland europe, I learned that accommodation is not always available, but that one can find hidden gems when just looking for an available place in a local area. Many places registered as hostels in certain travel seasons are actually luxury accommodation which is listing some of their rooms as hostels in order to fill bookings. Some of the most amazing tours and activities can be found simply by looking at the surroundings and asking ‘what is that?’. Small castles, breathtaking gardens, trips on historical boats and even the smallest principality in the world are all experiences found merely by looking at the surroundings and going to investigate about them. Many unique sites do not have yet internet listings or booking options and can only be found by ‘accident’. Most times these sites are only so happy to talk to the traveller and tell about their stories. One is able to find luck when not looking for it!’
Wherever you find yourself, take a relaxing moment to look around and see…
Is there an unexpected discovery that interests you? Would you travel without a plan?
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