I know many friends like to plan, get advice, plan and then book. I’m the opposite, and if you’re like me, spontaneous travel can be far more rewarding and exciting. When I’m not sure where I want to experience next, I go back and work through these five ideas.
1. Remind yourself – Why do I want to travel? I think I want to travel at times, for the sake of travelling. When my friends and family get to go away, I’m left envious of their upcoming experiences and try to grasp at any travel moment. It’s almost like a fear of missing out. I want to do what they are doing, but it’s not really where I want to go.
Word of advice – It’s a waste of money if you go for the sake of going, and to be honest you’ll be secretly disappointed! Take time to work outWHY you want to travel before you commit to anything.
For me, the past two weeks I knew I needed to go somewhere. It was time for ME! I’m needed here in Indonesia over the Christmas period, so this pre-Christmas trip was my escape beforehand. For me, I wanted to celebrate the six days before Christmas, but not have to travel very far.
2. How do you feel? Most of my travel is based on how I feel. I highly recommend you wait when being indecisive. My mood shapes how long I want to travel for; what I want to experience; and who I want to travel with. When I’m feeling a little down or tired, I know I want time away by myself to re-group.
When you don’t want to travel alone, then pick the destination which suits YOU, and encourage others who really want the same travel experience to come with you.
For my upcoming travel, I knew I wanted to travel alone. 2015 has been challenging emotionally for me in my personal life, and I needed time to reflect with little distractions. I knew the destination of choice had to provide me with space, and give me time to ‘find myself’ before 2016 came about. So this particular travel destination needed to respect my feelings and give me flexibility to make up my own mind.
3. Don’t take advice from others! I highly recommend YOU do the research, and find a destination appealing to your personal needs. If you take advice, you’ll end up confused and back to being indecisive. I always find advice is based on personal travel experiences, and you have two options. Listen and take it – then research what you’re looking for if the advice is sound and meeting your needs. OR, if it’s not what you’re looking for say ‘Thank you’ and go back to researching.
Research and write down various destinations you’re interested in. Google search travel referrals and ratings; and then make a list of your top 3 places. Contact various travel operators and accommodation providers on the ground in these destinations and/or your local RAWtravel agent about getting various travel specials and deals. That will help you mentally prepare what your minimal expectations are.
Over the past 2 weeks I asked several friends and work colleagues where are some places to visit. I had a list the length of my body! So I condensed my options and chose three destinations I thought I wanted to visit. Everyone was encouraging me to go to Padang in Malaysia, apparently the city and architecture is amazing, but it wasn’t giving me the experience I would look forward too. I then condensed my options to Laos and Borneo Malaysia, both options were still remaining a little boring. This is what I call being fussy and indecisive when you don’t need to be!
When I looked at the map of Borneo, I noticed little Brunei hanging out there. It caught my attention, because no-one ever mentions Brunei as a travel destination. I don’t think I even know many people who have been. It was mysterious and quite compelling to read and research about. I made some further enquiries, and it left me booking my flights and securing my destination to Brunei.
4. Understand your budget and how this impacts your holiday – I usually say if you cannot afford it, then its not meant to be. Certainly it is the case with travel, and should apply to most lifestyle ‘wants’. If you cannot afford to travel and live off a very strict budget daily, then I would recommend you wait a little longer and save more money. Otherwise you’ll be so focused on budgets when you travel, that you won’t enjoy your holiday! And let’s face it, if you’re travelling with others, it will bring them down as well, as you’ll not notice yourself complaining about cost of items, expenditure etc. It’s a value versus effort model, and should be applied to all your travel.
Back to Brunei – it caught my attention as it was a mid range, non expensive holiday I could take for six days. It met all my criteria for travel solo, which included finding a comfy relaxing eco-lodge with activities, which I could choose daily. It was perfect for both my personal needs and my bank account needs. Plus it also secretly has a pristine rainforest which I want to discover!!!
5. You know automatically! Don’t pay for something you won’t fully enjoy. Pay for an exciting, unknown and self indulging holiday that will leave you with NO expectations. Lets face it; travel is about you and your time. No matter who you are travelling with, OWN IT. Don’t compromise for others and don’t change your mind to keep other people happy. Your adventure starts with you and how you choose to travel and discover another destination, it’s all about how much energy you put into your adventure.
I know for me, Brunei was a secure deal when I un-expectantly discovered it. I had purposely put off booking my ticket and flights as I knew I wasn’t sold on the other destinations. I didn’t want to be disappointed, and spend a lot of money on something I will not enjoy. Brunei excited me and I knew straight away this is what I was looking for!
Jess McKelson is Director of Raw Wildlife Encounters, and when she’s not helping travellers organise amazing tours, she’s in North Sumatra saving Orangutans and working as the Quaratine Director for Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program. For more information on Jess please visit www.rawildlife.com.au.