Three and a half years ago, I sat in my hostel in Budapest, thinking about the trip I would be taking the next day to Krakow. Unfortunately, I was also thinking about the nine-hour train ride I would be taking in order to get to my next destination. After several uses of my Eurorail pass throughout my adventure in Europe, the thought of another full day inside of a small cabin did not excite me, and so I sought for a different option. Looking on Google Flights, I found an incredibly cheap flight to Barcelona. I actually had no plans visit Spain at the time, but I figured I would give it a shot. To my surprise, Barcelona ended up being the most incredible and memorable part of my European trip!
My reaction when I have to plan anything...
Fast forward now to my adventure today. It’s amusing to think about how many times I have changed my mind already since not only the start of my trip, but a few months prior to its start. In fact, my original plans started with commencing this trip in Australia. I had decided to change my start point strictly on a financial standpoint. I found an incredibly cheap direct flight to Singapore and used that as my launch point. Boy did it not disappoint! From the incredible people in Malaysia, to the wonderful beaches of Thailand and the Philippines, you could easily spend years and years in this vicinity of the world. It seems that every time I arrived in a city, I would be recommended to visit another one, thus extending my stay in that particular region or country. For example, I originally was thinking of just doing Phuket and Bangkok while in Thailand. 7 cities later, I still have thoughts about returning soon. Yes, it’s that awesome!
Koh Lipe, Thailand was never on my list of places to visit, but as you can see I totally regretted taking the detour...
Being spontaneous and making changes, while very rewarding most of the time, it also comes to a few disadvantages. Without proper planning, one can end up missing out on some very incredible experiences. In hindsight, I really wish I had done a bit more research before booking my Palawan trip. While, Puerto Princesa was an incredible experience, it would have been much more convenient for me to book a flight to Coron instead, as the long 6-hour bus rides to and from El Nido were a bit of a waste of two half-days. It would had been so bad, had I not had to catch a flight to Shanghai in a short amount of time for an unrelated matter. But a wise person always told me: “Treat every visit as if you are going to come back soon.” Rest assured, I will be back to Palawan to do it right.
Palawan was an incredible experience with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Had I planned a bit better, I could have spent more time there.
Another drawback to being carefree with your planning, is that if you’re not too careful, it could end up costing you a good amount more in terms of flights. While low-budget airlines tend to keep things relatively cheap in general, sometimes booking something a day in advance can hit you hard in the pocketbook (especially if your destination is relatively far from your origin). An example would be if you were in Bali today, and decided that you wanted to head to Saigon tomorrow. Flights could be incredibly expensive depending on how the universe is feeling that day. At that point, you may be asking yourself if being spontaneous is a little too much for my wallet? My answer to that: Double down on your spontaneity! If Saigon is too expensive, then maybe Siem Riep or Yangon will have a deal! You can always go back to Saigon sometime again in the future! Skyscanner and Google Flights are an excellent way to track the best rates. Who knows? You may find your dream city at an incredible price!
Bonus spontaneous tattoos from Thailand and the Philippines!
In the end though, it really is all about your comfortability. Having an itinerary and plan for your trip is honestly not a bad way to travel whatsoever. In fact, those who have an itinerary may have opportunities to see more than I ever would have. It’s a choice, much like home-body versus the adventurer. I personally prefer going off the beaten path, mostly because the uncertainty gives me a bit of a thrill. But whatever kind of traveler you may be, whether it be a constant planner or someone who doesn’t know where they are going in the next five minutes, the fact remains that we are all travelers. That is the common bond that we share and the stories that we can tell will always be exciting and interesting, no matter how they occurred.