Summer is fast approaching and that’s got everyone thinking ROADTRIP! Yay, we say. It’s also got journalists penning countless tips on how to plan, plan, plan the perfect escape. Boo, we say.
All of this planning is why people talk about road trips and rarely go on them. Or, even worse, dread them; go on them only to swear that it’s the last one…ever. Reject the notion that everything has to be premeditated and consider these tips on how to let go of those anxiety-inducing planning session and disappointing car trips. This is the How-To for Super Spontaneous Road Trips.
You pour over hotel pictures and read countless reviews online. You shop around and find the best price, you search and search and search for just the perfect place for your road trip stops. And what do you get – big expectations. Think of all of that effort and energy going into building up this ideal. Let go of those expectations. You’re guaranteed to be satisfied with where you end up when you have zero expectations. After all, disappointment is always preceded by expectation.
Does this sound familiar – head buried in the map and scenery whizzing past unseen; fights about missed turns; frustration over how long it’s taking to get there? Do you know what all of these things have in common? A destination. Make good on that old adage that ‘life is about the journey and not the destination’ and stop worrying about where you’re going. Instead, just go. Enjoy the journey. You’ll get there when you get there and you’ll know it when you do. Ah, now doesn’t that already fell a lot less stressful?
Preparation ≠ Planning
You can be prepared even if you haven’t planned a thing! In fact, being prepared is the very essence of super successful spontaneous road trips. Keep a cooler in your trunk. If you don’t have a GPS system in your car, stock the glove box with maps for your (and neighbouring) province or state. Add your travel insurance provider’s number to your contacts list (I can’t tell you how many times we’ve signed up for out of country medical insurance while sitting in the border line up!) Load up your iPod or music player with a fresh road trip playlist, an audio book or podcasts you’ve been meaning to get to. Have a to-go adventure bag on the ready at all times. Ours contains bocce balls (fun anywhere and great for leg-stretching stops), a Frisbee (makes a party out of construction delays), a roll of toilet paper (doubles as tissue paper), first aid kit (safety first), hiking poles and boots (for when the trails beckon). We also tend to grab the camera (keep those batteries charged) and our camping gear (also in its own ready-to-go bin).
Think Non-Traditional Accommodations
We’ve had some of the most memorable nights in weird, follow-the-signs-off-the-highway motels, cabins, B&B’s and hostels – the kind you’d never find on this new-fangled internet thingy. But since most places are on the internet, when you’re starting to get tired, pull over and see what pops up on GPS or Google Maps. You can also try Airbnb to find a last minute couch or cabin. And, if you’ve brought your tent – you can usually find some place to pop it up. Sure, it may not be postcard perfect, but then again if you’ve adhered to tip #1, you’re gold.
Research as You Go
The trouble with doing all kinds of research before you go is that you never know how current or accurate it is. We prefer to stop in at the visitor centres along the way and ask them what’s going on. Small events (like oyster eating contests or the annual town parade) may not make the web in terms of being newsworthy but you can bet that the locals think it’s pretty darn special. And, since you have no plans and nowhere to be – you’re free to slurp into that oyster eating contest! That memory is sure to beat out the picture of the place where everyone goes to take the picture of the place.
One last thing…
It seems like it should go without saying but in addition to these 5 tips on successfully (not) planning a spontaneous road trip there is one more critical thing – be spontaneous. If this isn’t a natural setting for you, then you may have to actually work at it. Practice saying yes. Give your brain a spanking when it tries to apply expectations to any part of the journey. Go with the flow and embrace the opportunities that present themselves to you!
Safe travels and drop us a line along the way – we love hearing about (and sharing) spontaneous adventures!