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.
4. Have resources ready. If you know the website to find obscure local hostels when everything is overpriced, or an app to find local eating tips or off-the-beaten-path destinations, you will be in good shape! The bus and train websites in each place is good to know, too. Having these resources ready will save you time on the road so that you can enjoy where you are.
5. Rent a car. This is optional and depends on the kind of places you want to go. I had big dreams of remote villages and traveling through nature parks only to realize that- Duh!- off-the-map means off public transportation routes. I think that truly the BEST way to travel with no plan is to have a car to literally go wherever you want. This also saves you time looking up train schedules and disappointment when you find a really cool place that you just can’t get to (like this incredible mountain hut in Slovenia).
So what do you think? What has your experience been traveling with no plan? Do you have any tips that helped you relax and enjoy the ride? Comment below!
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