How often do you incorporate spontaneity into your adventures? For many people, travel is a thoroughly scheduled endeavour thanks to limited time off and an extensive list of experiences they intend to enjoy. Sound familiar? What if you left your next trip, or part of it, to chance? It may sound crazy, but in this blog post I share 7 reasons why spontaneous travel will change your life for the better. Make sure to read all the way through for tips on how ways to incorporate spontaneity into your adventures as well as how to “plan” a spontaneous trip!
In December I hopped on a plane to a country I’d never visited. The kicker was that I “planned” the whole thing 9 days before leaving. Unlike Europe, where it’s super easy and affordable to hop borders on a whim, I live in Canada. The inspiration for this snap decision was easy. Gas, food, and accommodation are expensive, so why not see if I could visit another country for the weekend for a similar price or better?
How did I choose the final destination for my recent spontaneous international trip? First, I decided how long I wanted to spend in transit. Given that it was a 2.5 day adventure, I didn’t want it to be longer than a few hours. Next, I set a budget for the weekend. Last, I went to Google Flights and used the underrated Explore function to find something within my criteria. Voilá! Two countries outside of Canada and the US popped up. I booked the tickets and buckled up for the ride!
8 Reasons Why Spontaneous Travel will Change Your Life for the Better
As with any listicle, this is not a complete set of reasons why I think travelling in a more spontaneous fashion will improve your life. It’s simply a few suggestions to inch you closer to taking the leap and going with the flow in your future travels.
1: Being Spontaneous is Good for Your Health
If there’s no other reason why spontaneous travel will enhance your quality of life, the health benefits are unquestionable. Travel and spontaneity are excellent tools to improve your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Let’s start with the physical. I don’t know about you, but I tend to sit a whole heckuva lot less when I’m out exploring the world. Whether you’re rocking the heel-toe express, swimming, or climbing a mountain, generally your body enjoys more movement when travelling.
Access to fresh and healthy food is, of course, good for your health. In many places outside of North America, farm to table is not a trend – it’s a way of life. Happy cows live in fields and consume actual grass. Vegetables appear from the farm down the road. Heck, you might even be able to pick fresh fruit along your morning walk. The shortened distance between earth and plate leads to a reduction in food processing and overall better food quality and taste. It’s one of the many reasons we rave about what we ate while on vacation. The perfect example of this is the wine, bread, and pasta in Italy. Each time I return to bell’Italia, I indulge in these gastronomic pleasures without hesitation. By contrast, wine from the LCBO makes my face blotchy and pasta and bread in Canada leads to an uncomfortable bloat. However, in Italy I can eat and drink everything sans digestive discomfort. The same goes for the cheese in Ireland vs. the cheese at home. The closer the food on your plate is to its source, the better it is for your body.
One of the best and most impactful books I’ve ever read is Dr. Norman Doidge’s “The Brain that Changes Itself”. The book provides numerous remarkable examples of neuroplasticity and how it affects our lives in different ways. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, Dr. Doidge describes neuroplasticity as “the idea that the brain can change its own structure and function through thought and activity”. In other words, the brain has an incredible capacity to learn and adapt. Do you know the best way to increase the adaptability of your brain? Introduce it to new things. Then, do that again and again and again. What more enjoyable way to exercise your brain than with travel?
Last, and definitely not least, are the positive emotional impacts of improvised getaways. Learning to let go, be in the present, and roll with whatever comes your way is a continuous life lesson in patience. This is especially true when life chucks a pothole in the road, metaphoric or otherwise. Ironically, anyone who has travelled is likely to agree that disasters on trips usually produce the best stories. They bond us to our fellow travellers, increase our confidence, and improve our self-awareness. Spontaneous travel is also liberating. So much of our day-to-day lives are, understandably, structured and planned. Throw out the schedules and see what each day brings. You’ll be back to your regular scheduled program in no time anyhow, so soak up the spontaneity every chance possible!
2: Spontaneity is Exciting
As much as humans crave stability and security, we also require novelty and surprise. Whether you’re fighting the winter blues, the corporate hamster wheel, or just want to change things up, an impromptu trip can be just the ticket you need to re-energize.
Spontaneity is what travel is all about.
— Zach Anner
3: Travel is Always a Good Idea
I’m sure you can tell by now, whether this is the first blog post you’re reading on Travel with TMc or the 20th, that I love travel for a million different reasons. With confidence, I can state that travel is always a good idea – whatever shape or form it takes. International travel, domestic travel, hyperlocal travel, living room travel…it’s all the bee’s knees. Spontaneous international travel, well, that’s just a whole other level of awesome.
How can I be so confident that it’s always a good idea? This depends first on how you define travel. For me, it’s a change of scenery, a change of pace, and often a change in mentality because of the first two items. You don’t have to go far to change your location or the rhythm of your life. Even if you venture to a nearby town, you’re still travelling and thus reaping adventure’s benefits.
4: Increase Your Flexibility and Lower Your Stress
Travelling might be one of the best life tools to increase your flexibility and tolerance. As an outsider away from home you won’t have access to habitual comforts, such as your favourite restaurant or your usual running route. Instead, you’re forced to seek out options without knowing if the decision will work out. By keeping your expectations low and your mind open, two positive thing will happen. First, your stress won’t spike because expectations are low. The goal is to try something new and you’re doing it. The second win is that you might even be surprised by new experiences that you enjoy.
5: Embrace Your Intuition
Spontaneity is a beautiful mélange of thinking less, doing more, and trusting your intuition. On the contrary, day-to-day life sets our brain on auto-pilot. This provides the mental space to think about other aspects of life. We don’t have to consider where we’ll rest our head, meet a friend for coffee, wash our clothes, or attend our favourite hobby class. In several ways, this is a blessing and a privilege.
On the other hand, ignoring our gut can be a double-edged sword.
So how can you embrace your intuition through unplanned travel? Take a moment and pay attention to what you’re craving (sun, unfamiliar words, a physical or mental challenge, water, connection with others) and incorporate it into your next trip. Feeling really anxious about looming bills, in addition to your travel expenses? Address that head on by reducing the length of your trip or travelling in a more budget-friendly way. If you’re not in the points and miles game, learning how to pay yourself to travel is another strategy to relieve any stress around travel.
Remember the mantra of “thinking less and doing more”? Paying attention to your intuition will help you make quicker decisions. These improved skills will bring you into alignment and can lead you to include or cut something out of your travels. Trust that you’re making the right decision! The more you practice listening to your needs and the environment around you, trusting your intuition will become second nature.
6: Allows You to Be More Present
There’s nothing like novelty and surprise to immediately force you to pay attention. It’s the mechanism that allows us to survive, after all. Unlike our cave-dwelling ancestors, many of us live in relative safety and comfort. Unfortunately, this advantage has a downside. Many people end up living in their heads (or screens) rather than in the physical world. The beauty of travel is that we can immerse ourselves in the unfamiliar. The smells are new, the sounds are bizarre, the flavours are mesmerizing, and our human curiosity is naturally piqued. Whether you’re tuning in to your intuition, the new environment you find yourself in, or the people you’re travelling with, a spontaneous getaway will undoubtedly facilitate being more present.
7: Create Lasting Memories
Travel stories are some of the longest-lasting memories we carry through life. They make us laugh, cry, and cringe as we recall our past voyages. The rose-coloured glasses of nostalgia influence our fond recollections of “that one time in ____” with details that whisk us back in time, no matter how long ago they occurred. Without sounding too much like a broken record, I believe the novelty of the interactions and experiences causes a deep imprint in our memories. There are so many reasons why it’s important to create strong memories, not least of all because they encourage us to create and collect even more.
Have You Ever Taken an Impromptu Trip?
Have you ever planned a spontaneous international trip before? Not sure where to begin? Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered with exactly how to plan a spontaneous trip abroad and 10 fun ways to incorporate spontaneity into your next adventure.
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