Advanced bookings, itineraries, tour packages — these are but a few words that have become synonymous to travel itself, but remain foreign to most spontaneous travellers. Speaking as one, I’d always believed in the power of winging it and leaving everything to the universe, in reference to a famous line by novelist Paulo Coelho. This proved to be true in several situations, including ones where I’d miraculously endured bad weather and lack of budget. Still, I choose not to be blind to the fact that it can hurt me in the long run, and so should you. Here’s why.
You rely too much on compromise
Spontaneous travellers comprise of the most hardworking people the world has ever seen… and the laziest. By leaving your entire trip up to the wind, you’re basically neglecting two important parts of travelling. One is being aware of your destination, and the other being responsible enough to face the consequences of your own actions. Without them, your ability to compromise, which is the one thing you always rely on, won’t go very far.
Take this as an example: A budget airline has just offered the cheapest possible flight and you couldn’t resist booking it. What you didn’t know is that the next most affordable flight will give you a much better seat, complimentary lunch and free insurance. Long story short, you ended up with a sore back and a lost suitcase which you can’t even be compensated for.
You spend more than what you should
As in the case above, being a spontaneous traveller might mean booking a cheap flight to a random destination a year ahead. Or it could be booking a few days to hours before your scheduled departure. Unless you’re 101% sure about getting an approved leave or having enough budget in time for your immediate flight, your chances of spending (or even wasting) more money are very high.
But it’s not just about money. If you don’t plan your trip well or at all, you might find yourself being stranded for a few more days or weeks in your destination. And that could mean prolonged absence from work, dwindling budget or even missing important life events at home.
You no longer care about your safety
In place of licensed tour guides or tour operators, spontaneous travellers have locals and fellow travellers to count on. In hardcore circumstances, they only depend on themselves. Even if planning isn’t in your nature, it doesn’t mean you should ignore doing basic research to know more about your chosen destination. Is it safe for travellers to begin with? In case you run into legal problems, do you even know where the nearest Philippine Embassy is?
It pays to know the answers to these questions yourself. Because as much as you admire the concept of a completely trouble-free world, anything can happen beyond your control or anyone else’s. In some cases, it could be a matter of life and death. There’s a difference between going out of your comfort zone and going out of your safety zone. Remember that.
You are often exhausted
I know of people who detest tour packages because of their usually packed itinerary, which can be tiring. But I realised I don’t have to book one to feel the same thing. With my ‘go with the flow’ attitude, saying yes to outrageous, unplanned adventures has become second nature to me. Yet more often than not, they’ve left me tired than even the times I did resort to organised tours.
Like me, your excuse would probably be that these types of experiences don’t happen every day so it’s important to grab them now. “At least I had fun”, you’d say to yourself. That may be true. But no fun is ever worth it if you don’t look after your body. Trust me, I’ve learnt this the hard way.
So while spontaneous travels can be fascinating, realise that it can take its toll on you if you can’t balance it with basic planning. In time, you’ll find that the best things in travelling happen not from spontaneity or being prepared alone — it’s a mix of both.