Travel is all about leaving behind your routine, discovering the unexpected, and jumping into new adventure. But by the time you’ve price compared flights, gotten your vacation days approved, and started hunting for hotels, it’s easy for the magic and freedom of exploration to get lost in a sea of logistics and to-do lists.
If you want to enjoy the spontaneity of travel, and make sure you take time to discover the unexpected moments and places that transform a great trip into a life-changing one, here are a few easy tips.
Make ‘rules’, then break them
Planning to not have plans might seem a bit strange, especially if your goal is to soak up as much of a place as possible in the little time that you have. But just like you’ve got to know the rules before you can break them, it’s better to know if your reservation is refundable before you decide to change your plans.
Simple things like keeping your reservations organized, or paying a slightly higher fee for flexible tickets, helps make it easier to switch plans mid-trip. Even if your budget means you can’t shell out extra, being able to easily access information about when and where you have to be during important travel moments can give you the freedom to decide that yes, you do have enough time to go for one last adventure before you head to the train station.
Create a photo challenge
If you think about curiosity like a muscle, exploring new places might be one of the best forms of exercise. Whether you’re searching for things painted in a distinctive color, keeping an eye out for gargoyles, or following the tags of a local graffiti artist, visual scavenger hunts are a great way to keep you looking in unexpected places.
Schedule unscheduled time
If there’s a long list of places you want to see, you’ll spend your whole trip rushing from point A to point B to point Z and miss everything else in-between. And besides, a packed schedule doesn’t make for an especially relaxing vacation.
To make sure you don’t miss out on the thrill of discovery while still checking must-sees off of your list, try to only pick one or two big destinations for each day. To narrow it down, focus on places that truly excite you versus what you feel like you’re “supposed” to see. Only have a weekend in Paris and don’t feel like spending half of it in the Louvre? Skip it. Heard about an amazing store you’re dying to visit? Give yourself enough time to browse at your own pace and then explore the neighborhood or have lunch nearby.
Ditch the guide book
Since personal taste varies and plenty of amazing and often local places can’t be found on TripAdvisor, it’s worth breaking away from only visiting spots that are tried-and-true.
Following your gut, rather than a top 10 list, might not always end in a life changing meal, but it does offer a trilling sense of discovery when you do stumble across an unexpected gem. So pick a few must-try places, mark down a few maybes, and start wandering to see what catches your eye.
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