5 Ways to Get the Most from Your Unplanned Trip

Updated: Sep 1, 2020

I am currently on my very first unplanned solo-trip. And I have to say, it is not all rainbows as so many articles and fellow travelers had led me to think.

For one thing, I hadn’t done any research (since when does a travel planner have time to plan her own trip?) and came to find out that lodging in the areas I had in mind was way out of my budget. I’m spending a lot of time just trying to figure out where I’ll sleep next and how to get there instead of enjoying where I am. Frustrating is an understatement but I also feel guilt for not enjoying the journey and that’s not cool!

To avoid future mishaps, I made a list of a few strategies to get the most out of an unplanned trip. I wish I had known these sooner but we learn from experience, right?


1. Have a general outline in mind but be open to it changing. I had that part down. What I didn’t do is put each destination into Airbnb or another favorite booking platform so I’d have an idea of what kind of pricing I’m looking at to avoid any surprises.


2. Know the cultural basics. Do NOT be like me and not even know how to say “Sorry, I don’t speak German.” Not proud of that one.. Print or email yourself a page of basic phrases so it’s ready to grab and study on the train ride over. Also include info on cultural etiquette like tipping (restaurants, taxis, bartenders).


3. Pack light. If you’re traveling with no plan, you’re probably moving around a lot! Rather than pulling everything out of your closet that you might want to bring and trying to narrow it down, start with writing a list of items you need then fill in each category. For example, 2 casual tops, 2 nice tops, 1 pair of pants, 1 dress, etc. Check out this article on organizing your suitcase for stress-free travel.