Why fly if you can cargo ship it? En route São Tomé og Príncipe.
What do you mean you are not impulsive, adventurous, restless or hyperactive? Well, bloody do something about it. Why? Because it is the only real way to travel.
I’ll give you a few tips. Inspirational ones. I hope. Not because I am a nice guy. Just because I hate seeing miserable people when on the road. Coincidence has it that has only happened nearby resorts (aka. all-inclusive hell holes), beaches that resemble canned sardines (because of sunbathers, not because of fish), packed pools that smell of pooh or so called holiday villages where no one but people from your own and a neighbouring country seem to reside for a week or two (plus some Brits of course, they are in every holiday village known to mankind).
Too much planning has killed millions of holidays. Why? Because you can’t really plan everything when going somewhere you don’t know. Too much planning will be counter productive and make you or your travel companions annoyed. Annoyed about everything that does not go according to plan. “Because whenever you make a plan it will get a name. It will forever be known as plan B. Such is the curse of travelling plans.” I once said. And it is true.
It doesn’t really take much to become an impulsive traveller, to travel on impulse. Just a little creativity. And a few tips that may help boost it.
1. Travel with hand luggage only. It is the only way to be free, flexible and have more fun when on the road. How else can you jump onto that tiny bus to N’Djamena the last minute, be allowed onto a canoe on The Senegal, ride a horse from A to B cia C, D and F in Pategonia or hike through a jungle, forest or park in Guyana, Madagascar or London? That suitcase just won’t allow you to do it. Not even if it comes with wheels. More here.
2. Go to the airport without a ticket. Buy one when there. It won’t necessarily cost the world either. After all, no one does that. So, you may very well be given a fair deal. My good friend Arve Grønnevik perfected this tactics together with a friend. He once travelled to the airport, sporting nothing but hand luggage, of course. “May I have a ticket to abroad?” He politely asked at the ticket counter. The lady behind the desk spent a minute or so to comprehend. I mean, how hard can it be? Dozens or hundreds of flights go there every day, from most airports of any size. They ended up in Berlin. You know, that city abroad.
3. Subscribe to airline newsletters. Go to the first destination that sounds like a real deal. It is of course too easy to claim that there are no real deals. Of course, if you haven’t picked a city, you will have to go to the 11th one. It is the law! Cheap ticket tips here.
4. Pick a letter. Go to the first destination you can think of that starts with that letter. Again, you will have to book tickets instantly. If on a budget, limit your choices to a continent, a country or even a region or city.
5. Visit a website or watch the news. Go to one of the countries mentioned within ten minutes. Then again, you may want to skip the top stories. Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia are often included in those. Of course there is almost always a safe spot in any country.
6. Hang a map on a wall. Throw a dart. Go to the country/city neareast your target. This also makes a great present. Give a map and three darts to your better half. Promise to take him/her to wherever the dart hits. If on a budget, mark certain cities and go to the one nearest to where the dart penetrates the map.
7. When driving, pick a number, i.e. 14. Take off on the 14th exit. Got to the next town. Stay the night. So easy, yet so difficult. Do you dare? Impulsiveness on a shoestring.
8. Go somewhere without a guidebook. You know, people who live there will have a much better idea about what is hot and what is not. That travel writer was there a year or two ago, spending a day or three. He or she missed many spots, and certainly does not know what has changed to better or worse. Be your own travel writer and ask around. You can do that to people on the street, via Facebook, Twitter, Couchsurfing or any other website that has the ability of connecting people.
9. Start a travel club. Not a normal one, of course. You should not be more than 4-5 people. Decide on dates, it can be a week or a weekend. Play rock, paper, scissors. The winner will be the first organizer. Everyone deposits an agreed amount into a joint account, to the organizers Pay Pal, etc. He or she will decide on where to go, how to travel, where to stay and what to do there. You will know nothing about the destination or what will happen. The day before the big day you will be told about the point of departure, when you have to be there and what you need to pack (i.e. warm clothes, swim gear, etc.). Show up and enjoy the surprise. No guidebooks, no maps, no nothing. Just an open mind and trust in your friend.
10. Order a minibus taxi with some friends. Pay for 2 hours. See what happens. This is primarlily for local travels. Have the driver take orders as normal and pick up random passengers. Tell them the ride is for free, and start a conversation. If you get along, you might be invited to get off at their destination. If not, repeat the excercise. This may work best on party nights, and possibly with a few drinks.
11. Travel in an offbeat manner. Would you expect to drive? Then bike. Would you expect to fly? Then board a cargo vessel. Would you expect to go by boat? Then swim. You get the drill.
There are many other ways of travelling on impulse, of course. The clue is about doing random stuff, about letting the wind blow you somewhere. About feeling a new place. About giving it the possibility to surprise you, enlighten you, pleasure you. About seeing what happens and where it takes you. You only live once, don’t let planning deteriorate the relatively few experiences you will be blessed with.
Impulsiveness is a skill, but it can be learnt. The tips above may help you enjoy and appreciate the adventures of impulsiveness.
I will be happy to hear your stories.