It’s that time of year when people are rushing to book their August summer holidays, frowning over brochures and having heated discussions with friends about how many days to go for and whether it should be all-inclusive. People talk of the stress of it all, trying to find the best place at the best price, with a group of people that all get along on dates that everyone can do.
I have to say, I find it a rather odd phenomenon. After all, the point of a holiday is to relax, is it not? So why create more stress around it? I have never planned a holiday like that and I can’t imagine ever doing so – I currently have no idea what I will be doing in August or where I will be going – and that’s just fine by me. Whether the trip is long or short, spontaneity is the name of the game and th0ugh I love poring over maps, guidebooks and travel photos with a glass of wine in hand, dreaming about possible trips, firm plans don’t happen until the last minute – if at all!
I think the power of spontaneous travel is actually strongest for short breaks. If you’ve planned a weekend away in serious detail for months on end, those two or three days are likely to fly by or worse – be full of disappointment because the reality cannot hope to live up to your imaginings. Compare that to the tantalizing feeling that makes your fingers and toes tingle with anticipation if you decide, on a whim, just to take off somewhere for the weekend.
Whether you book a last minute holiday cottage at some idyllic coastal spot, throw the tent into the back of the car and take off into the countryside, or even turn up in a town and find a hotel there and then, the choices for unbridled spontaneity will leave you giddy. The most amazing feeling is that the golden days of a weekend seem somehow endless when you just take off like this – because you have no expectations and are not following a military-style schedule, the hours from Friday evening to Sunday night seem to stretch further and leave you feeling like you have been away for a lot longer.
It’s travel magic at its best. Some of my best memories come from spontaneous weekend trips – from the Bolivian cloud-forest to the refined streets of Edinburgh, escaping the usual routine for a wonderful new place feels absolutely delicious. So, put down the brochure, politely stall the friend who wants a decision on which all-inclusive resort to book for August the 25th. Get ready to leave your cares behind and drive off into the sunset. Where will you end up?
Are you a planner or a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants traveller?