Spontaneous trips are my favorite thing in the world. Waking up and deciding you want to fly somewhere in a few hours is one of the most incredible feelings in the world. I realise that not everyone has a very flexible schedule and can’t just decide to fly somewhere whenever they want, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use a weekend to your advantage!
When I was attending university, I would frequently book a flight during class and then head directly to the airport afterwards only to come home the following day. There were also times where I’d wake up on a Saturday and realise it is raining in Seattle and that I’d rather have lunch and dinner in San Francisco, so I would book a flight that morning and sometimes I’d stay the night and other times I would come home very late after a full day at my destination.
Planning a Spontaneous Trip
Well… you don’t! That’s the beauty. You decide what you want to do and then you go for it! When I woke up and decided to fly somewhere, I knew I would be back within a few days (I didn’t pack more than a backpack with a few clothes), so I knew I couldn’t stay longer. Plus, if I had class in a few days, I knew there wasn’t a possibility of going anywhere far. The usual destinations for a day or two were on the West Coast – anything within 2-3 hours of flying time from Seattle.
One weekend I decided to get super crazy (and because there was a mistake fare) and fly to Brazil for the weekend. I was in Rio de Janeiro for just two days and back at university on Tuesday morning. The best part was that I planned out my schedule to not have class on Fridays or Mondays.
You book a spontaneous trip, what next? Well you can either book a flight back on the same day or the following day.. or you can really be spontaneous and not book anything if you don’t know how long you want to stay at your destination. Again, I realize that this isn’t realistic for most people… but if you’ve been in the miles and points hobby for a while now and have a free weekend to spare, a spontaneous trip would make a great activity!
Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll want to figure out if you’re staying the night or if you’re returning the same day. It helps to have hotel apps installed on your phone so you can quickly search and book accommodations on the go. As far as transportation, I recommend taking the train or bus at your destination. It definitely doesn’t make sense to rent a car, and Ubering might not either if there is good public transportation available.
If upon your arrival you still haven’t decided how long you want to stay there or if you want to come back later in the day, wander around your destination and get a feel for it… how’s the weather? What’s the food like? Are there potential evening events that work for you? Make sure to check out the schedule for the day and see if there is anything worth staying for if you’re considering coming back sooner rather than later.
Important Notes about Spontaneous Trips
While spontaneous trips are wonderful, there are some key important things you need to be aware of and check before you book a one-way flight, without knowing when you’re going to return.
First of all, if you’re flying to a smaller destination, make sure to check if there are daily flights back to where you came from. While there are probably multiple daily flights between larger cities, the same can’t be said for smaller cities. Make sure there isn’t just one flight every other day if you don’t know how long you want to stay. Be sure to check the schedule beforehand so you’re not stuck!
Book a return flight for when you think you’ll want to come back and see if you can later change or cancel that flight. While most cheap tickets can’t be cancelled or changed at all, some tickets can be easily changed if you’re an elite member or if you booked a flexible ticket. Remember also that most airlines let you cancel for free within 24 hours of booking – use this to your advantage.
Perhaps another important item to check is how the weather is where you want to go. Obviously you probably won’t want to fly there if there are severe thunderstorms and rain. Therefore checking the weather is a very important element when deciding to go on a spontaneous trip.
If you’re going out of the country for a few days, be sure to take your passport and check to make sure you don’t need a visa for your destination. Also, some countries require proof of a return ticket and might refuse you entry if you have a one-way ticket booked.
Do not over-pack for a quick, spontaneous trip. Take only what you need – a few clothes, medications, and toiletries. You might not even need your laptop if you are wanting to getaway and relax. Be sure to take your necessary travel documents and credit cards as well as membership cards.
A short spontaneous trip will only be 2-3 days if you’re just going for the weekend and if you know you absolutely need to be back in a few days. Therefore it makes sense to just carry a backpack with all of your items, as it doesn’t make sense to have a carry-on bag since you will have to roll that around with you wherever you end up.
Relax and Unwind
Remember that the whole point of this trip is to be spontaneous and to getaway for a short while… therefore you should enjoy your time as much as possible and try to truly unwind and relax fully. The best part is that you get to decide where you’re going and what you’re doing there. Do what makes you happy and what relaxes you and gets you away from your daily routine.
You might decide you’re going to the beach for a day, or to see a concert that evening in another city, or simply to just visit your friends for lunch. Wherever you’re going and whatever you decide to do there, make sure to have fun, enjoy, relax, and be spontaneous!
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