Planning Spontaneous Travel
There are two types of travelers, those who plan and those who show up and figure it out on the fly. I happen to be the first kind. I prefer to book trips months in advance, to scour the internet and read everything I can about the sights, restaurants, history, and lesser known spots of my future destination. Before I leave, I read reviews and reserve a place (or places) where I can rest my head each night—but, on the other hand, I don’t like planning every minute of every day.
That’s right, I’m a partial planner. Set itineraries have always felt too suffocating, too rigid to me, so while I casually read up on the places I’m going to visit, I don’t dictate precisely when or for how long. I don’t really even decide if I’m going to see them all.
So, how do I plan and stay organized without being an oppressive totalitarian?
The answer is Google Maps.
Yes, Google Maps allows you to create custom maps with set pins and routes (which is what I do after I visit a place for this blog), but when I travel, I prefer to drop stars on my main map as I come across potential places of interest. That way, when I arrive at my destination I can pull out my phone, pick a star at random, or based on where I’m standing at that moment, and "star hop." Sometimes I do my research so far in advance I don’t remember every place I’ve starred, and it turns out to be a pleasant surprise. That’s about as spontaneous as I get.
If you’re like me and spontaneity doesn’t exactly come naturally, on your next trip, leave your itineraries and spreadsheets at home. Instead, search for some interesting areas and star them. And for the truly daring, there’s a new feature on Maps that allows you to drop a pin and label a destination that hasn’t been cataloged by Google yet. So get out there and plan with reckless abandon, who knows where you’ll end up? (Well, I guess you’ll sort of know).