We have become great fans of less-planned journeys. Cast back a generation and travelers were much less worried about having every aspect of their itinerary planned out in advance. There was a happy spontaneity to travel.
That’s changed. Nowadays, travelers view their vacations as investments that need to be properly planned and carefully managed. The notion of just idling through Europe, moving on from place to place as the mood takes you, now seems delightfully quaint. Some even judge it as an absurd luxury that comes with a high price tag.
Savor the local
True, dynamic pricing (where prices are tuned to demand and the best deals need to be booked well in advance) has become the norm for many city-center hotels and mainstream resorts — particularly for hotels that are affiliated to major international chains.
But canny travelers favor local color and skip the chains. For those travelers keen to support independent locally-owned hotels, particularly in smaller communities across Europe, there are still some great bargains there for the taking. And you don’t need to book in advance.
So why not try traveling on a whim? Sketch out the bare bones of your itinerary if you must, and leave the details to be filled in along the way. Enjoy the serendipity of chance discovery and preserve the flexibility that allows you to stop off at that little Italian village or Baltic port upon which you stumble by chance.
Escape the daily routine
We constrain our workaday lives with strictures and schedules. Why not use periods of travel to escape those constraints? This approach takes a little courage. Of course, there will be times when things don’t work out perfectly. But that’s true too of the most meticulously planned journey.
Mastering this very different style of travel — slower and less directed — takes time. But it is infinitely rewarding. Even more so, we think, if you are less enslaved to guidebooks and more willing to engage with the everyday lives of the communities you happen to visit. This is what slow travel is all about.
It is about bucking the trend, not going the way of the crowd. It is about connecting with places on their terms rather than on yours. It is about allowing yourself to be inspired. It is an approach that rewards those who are prepared to gaze, prepared to wander, even prepared to wonder.
Free spirits are all too rare. But why not give it a shot?