Spontaneous Travel Moments

Okay, let’s be real. If you know me or have read even one of my other blog posts, you know how much I love to plan. BUT, also, if you know me, you know how much I also love being spontaneous. In college, I was known as the crazy friend who wasn’t afraid to just go and do things. It’s true I promise. I love this side of me as much as I do my planning side. This makes me think about some of my favorite trips I have ever been on and honestly, many are the ones I didn’t really plan.

This also made me think about how often we over think traveling. We want to plan out every moment, not miss a thing, or put it off because we don’t have a lot of funds. While travel can be planned and wonderful, I know that there are also times where you don’t have to plan ahead. If an opportunity comes my way, I take it! I know these moments are ones that I will never forget. I’ve created this list of my favorite spontaneous travel moments because everyone needs a little unplanned, free moments in their life – even when it comes to travel! Hopefully, you are inspired to take your own impromptu trip somewhere soon.

I also just want to point out that none of these trips were expensive. Most were under $50 (except Niagara, it was more like $300 considering I spent two nights in a hotel, meals, etc.). I probably spent just as much on some of them as I would in a weekend anyway. You don’t have to spend a lot to have an awesome time! 

Also, I work full time! Yes – full time and have still made some spontaneous trips. I decide on a weekend I have nothing planned or when I realize I have an extra day off! It’s possible with a full time job!

Going to Canada on Thanksgiving

A few years ago when I was living in Baltimore, I didn’t have enough money to time off to go home for Thanksgiving. Luckily, I wasn’t alone in this situation and had a few friends who wanted to get together for Thanksgiving. We bought all the fixings, the turkey, and started cooking. While cooking we started talking about traveling and all the places we had been. We all love traveling, but had many places still on our lists.

Well, turns out, none of us have ever been to Canada. How had none of us been to Canada?! It was on our border! Then we started talking more, none of us had been to Niagara Falls. How had none of us been to Niagara Falls?! We kept talking and looked up how far away it was – just 10 hours?! LET’S GO! And thus started an epic road trip to Canada. We left the turkey in the oven, grabbed our passports, and booked the hotel on the drive. It was an epic weekend of casinos, food, and ridiculously cold gorgeous views.

Volunteering in North Carolina

I had just gone through a break up and was telling my friend – I just NEED to get out-of-town. Well, she just happened to be going to NC for the weekend to volunteer at the SPCA there. She graciously invited me to come along that weekend – I of course accepted! We left early Saturday morning (like 5 am early) and started talking about how funny it would be if I got a dog. Well… we got to the shelter and about 5 minutes later, I had bonded with Oakley and was dying to take him home. No, I wasn’t planning on getting a dog, but it ended up being the best decision ever! Now I have a new and adorable best friend. Plus we stayed at the cutest AirBnB in a barn and got to wake up and pet horses on this gorgeous farm. Amazing weekend!

Climbing Mount Tai

This one was a really crazy one. While I was teaching in China, I wanted to go on one last weekend trip before going back to the states. I started researching great things to do within a train ride of Tianjin and found Tai Shan. Tai Shan is one of the 5 holy mountains of China. The emperor had to climb the stairs to the top to be considered the true emperor. The stairs are still there and it is an incredible climb over 40 flights of stairs! It’s not for the faint of heart. It was Wednesday and my friends and I found this mountain googling and decided if tickets were under $20 we would go. Well, we found third class tickets (which I DON’T recommend buying) and were on our way at 3 am that Friday.

We were so tired by the time we got there. I am shocked that we still climbed all the way to the top where we visited a temple, ate ice cream and napped on the edge of a cliff. We were also the only Westerners we saw there all day. It was not a huge tourist spot for foreigners which made it even more unique. It was incredible and we upgraded our tickets for the train ride back because saving money is great, but sharing a booth seat with four people isn’t. I was so glad I did it, but oh so tired at the end of the night. We finally got back around 11 pm to our apartment – definitely an adventurous day.

New Years in Austin

I was home for Christmas and got to talking with an old friend of mine via text. I had just moved to DC and was not really sure if I wanted to spend New Year’s there, but had bought my return ticket before NYE. Elizabeth started to tell me about the girl’s weekend she had planned for NYE in Austin and invited me along. I checked tickets (thanks Southwest!) and there was a cheaper flight back if I left on January 2nd. I got $67 back in credit and got to stay longer and head to Austin with one of my good friends! We ended up spending two nights there and having a blast. New Year’s in Austin is always a good idea!

 

Visiting Assateague

One black Friday after being up all night shopping with my friends, we started thinking… What are we going to do for the rest of the weekend? My grandmother is from Virginia and had given me many books about Assateague as a kid. I LOVE horses and love the outdoors. We decided, why not drive to Assateague for the day? We hopped in the car and got here just before the sunset and immediately saw the wild horses! It was so freezing cold and we were running in and out of the car. We drove back through Ocean City to get seafood for dinner (this is still the only time I’ve been to Ocean City) and stopped in Annapolis to dance before heading home. I don’t know how I survived on such little sleep, but it was an awesome spontaneous day!

Want a quick getaway? Try using AirBnB for the first time and get $40 off!

So yes, I am a huge planner, but sometimes the best memories come from not planning at all and just taking a risk to have some fun. It usually works out and you end up having a blast. Don’t be afraid to live life the way you want to and go for those moments when you can. I never regret it!

 

  • Erica Coffman

    These are some pretty epic spontaneous adventures! I love the pup story. Now I wanna see photos of him!

  • In Africa N Beyond

    I love the idea of impromptu trips and you’ve had some great ones esp Niagara Falls. Unfortunately I haven’t had many of them because I have to plan around my kids school holidays and husband’s work and the fact that I live too at the bottom of Africa and too far away from everywhere else. Sorry for whingeing 🙂

  • Kelly Ann Duhigg

    Loved this post!! Spontaneous travel moments are the best because they are a total surprise and it’s not manufactured. You just let life unfold and amazing things like this post happen. Thanks for sharing!!

  • Travels of a Bookpacker

    Great stories! Makes me want to jump in the car and go somewhere right now! Love spontaneous travel experiences 🙂

    • Thank you! Yes, it’s so much fun to just go sometimes 🙂

  • I totally agree with your sentiment: it’s often the little travel moments or random things that make a trip amazing. I’m a planner, but totally agree that it can sometimes go too far – you’ve gotta have room to move or change plans on a whim! That’s what makes it so exciting 🙂

  • We are big planners too, but also love flying by the seat of our pants. Like you, some of our best travel moments are completely unplanned. Climbing mt. Tai looks incredible. We’d love to do that too.

    • Yes! Thank you – it was an awesome experience. Definitely go when you visit China!

  • Jamie

    I am a huge OCD planner – thanks for writing this to remind me to enjoy things as they come sometimes!

  • Anthony Jury

    It is why we travel to be spontaneous, amongst other things. And it certianly looks like you had a fun with some of your adventures. It is also interesting how some travel stories take shape and inspiration, like from a beeak up and so forth. Good post and keep being spontaneous.

    • Totally agree! There are definitely exciting things that happen when you just pick up and go! Hope you do as well!

  • Sonali Aggarwal

    Amazing post. This post motivated me to just pack my bag and travel without worries and have best time of my life. Thanks For Sharing.

  • Kellyn Jeremy-Aponte

    Awesome inspiration. Not the usual locations, I love it! Seems like you had a great time exploring Mount Tai. I look forward to more from you.

    • Thank you! They were pretty random as they were last minute choices! Mount Tai is definitely a favorite of mine. Thanks Kellyn!

  • Christina

    This is fantastic and we agree with you 100 percent! We too plan every detail (well I do, Adam just says okay or makes a different suggestion), and we agree that sometimes its the spontaneous moments we did not see coming that we remember the most. I loved reading about all your trips and now I know your story about your dog! That is really awesome – some things happen for a good reason 🙂 Assateague is on our list to visit and we hope to have a great experience like you (minus the cold weather). Thanks for the lovely inspiration!

    • Thank you! It is a very spontaneous story (me getting my dog haha). Definitely make it to Assateague when it gets warmer – it makes for the perfect weekend!

  • I must say I’m not a big planner. So your stories hit close to home for me. My favorite one would be Mount Tai – ice cream just makes everything better, even sleepless nights and stairs in 40 flights 😉

    Happy continued travels!
    C

    • Haha totally agree! Ice cream is the best and climbing like we did was quite the adventure.

  • Punita Malhotra

    Ah..if only that were possible for all of us! Spontaneous travel seems like such fun, but due to practical constraints of work, we need to plan our leaves and vacations. Maybe sometime in the future..

    • It can definitely be hard! All of my spontaneous travel moments have actually been on weekends or times I was off for holidays. I work full time as well! Hopefully you are able to take many adventures!

  • Adrenaline Romance

    Wow! We admire your courage in taking spontaneous, unplanned trips. For us, we always plan our trips as much as possible—budgets, itineraries, accommodations, etc.—since we are full-time employees. Doing so helps us maximize our time and save money.

    However, we would like to try out spontaneous travel if give the chance….and money to spare. Hehehe!

    • I actually work full time too! These trips were all short weekend (most were just 2 days or less – except Canada that was 3) and I didn’t take any time off work for them! It does take a bit of money, but many were less than $50 check back in the article for expenses!). Hope you are able to make the most of your time off. Thanks for reading!