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Think Spontaneous Travel Is Dead? You’re Wrong

Here’s how to embrace spontaneity, even in the midst of a pandemic.

As an online entrepreneur, Certified Health Coach Lindsey Catarino is blessed with the freedom to work from anywhere in the world where there’s WiFi. She takes advantage of this setup by going on spontaneous trips at least once a month—pre-pandemic, that is. And in the last five years, this Connecticut native has traveled to over 20 countries and accumulated thousands of air miles.

Hardwired for adventure, Catarino’s solo journeys were always centered around a physical activity: glacier hiking in Norway, summiting Machu Picchu in Peru, and joining a surf and yoga retreat on Bali Island. She always left home on these two-week trips with just a few days’ notice. “I’m immediately thrilled. It’s this adrenaline rush you get that you’re about to change everything about your current environment,” Catarino says about the feeling she gets when booking last-minute flights.

Besides the prospect of adventure, the social aspect of travel is something Catarino values most and makes a conscious effort to join tour groups and dine at communal tables to meet friends from all over the world. This, she says, allows her to share the excitement of being in a new place with someone else.

“I’m immediately thrilled. It’s this adrenaline rush you get that you’re about to change everything about your current environment.”

But the pandemic put a halt to her free-spirited and easy-going lifestyle, and in March 2020, she reluctantly swapped lively accommodations for self-contained Airbnbs, and Uber rides for rental cars. “My usual style of meeting people along the way turned into a lot of books in my backpack and nights alone in the Airbnbs,” says Catarino. And for now, international trips are off the table.

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The days of traveling on the fly are long gone, no thanks to the pandemic, and any kind of vacation—whether it’s a quick weekend getaway or day trip to hit the slopes—requires some kind of planning to minimize exposure to other people. But spontaneous travel isn’t dead. It just looks different now and here’s how you can still embrace it in a way that’s fun and safe.

Make Your Travels Self-Sufficient

The all-American road trip was the way to go in 2020, as that allowed for more spontaneity and space for physical distancing, and you can even camp out in your car. But enthusiastic road trippers know that renting a camper trailer allows for a fully self-contained experience. Campgrounds these days often book up quickly, or they’re closed depending on local health regulations. But with a camper trailer, you’ll have your own kitchen and bathroom, which means you won’t even have to use any public facilities even if you manage to score a campsite.

Treat Yourself to a Staycation

If you’ve been dreaming of a deeply relaxing soak in a marble clawfoot tub, or spending a night away from your rambunctious kids, use those points that you’ve accumulated from credit card purchases and previous hotel stays to take advantage of a free staycation. Book directly with hotel staff, who will also be able to offer any available last-minute vacation packages and keep you up to date on gym and pool closures. As a relatively quiet period for the hotel industry, always try your luck by asking for an upgrade.

Experience the Outdoors Differently

1.Courtesy of GetMyBoat;

“Get outside” is something you’ve heard a lot throughout this pandemic, but it doesn’t just mean to lay at another beach or hike a different trail. You can experience the same destination in ways you never have before. For example, GetMyBoat is the world’s largest peer-to-peer boat rental marketplace and makes it easy for you to achieve the feeling of doing something new without leaving your city. With over 130,000 options in 9,300 locations across 184 countries, you can easily book a six-person houseboat, luxury yacht, or a water buggy with your bubble to get outside in a different way. GetMyBoat’s app lets you get your hands on a rental on short notice. “Our record turnaround time was 20 minutes from the initial booking inquiry to the renter being literally out on the water on their boat,” Marketing Manager Val Streif tells Fodor’s Travel. 

Check-in With Your Tourism Office

Yes, it may sound pointless to visit the tourism office in your own city, but with the staycation and playing-tourist-in-your-own-city trend on the rise, many of us are finally going to check out some of the restaurants or shops that we’ve been meaning to for a long time. But unfortunately, not every seafood restaurant or cafe we’ve read about will have survived the economic fallout of this pandemic. So for a list of updated ideas, check in with your tourism office and let their suggestions guide you.

Courtesy of Captain Experiences

Book an Adventure Based on Last Minute Availability

For those eager to breathe some fresh air, Austin-based Captain Experiences makes it easy for you to book outdoor sports guides on a whim, whether you’re looking to try your hand at some fly fishing, or participate in an eco-tour in the Everglades. Their services are available in 186 destinations, which are mostly scattered across America, as well as Central and South America. Customers can shop for half or full-day experiences by price, and Captain Experiences helps you to embrace spontaneity by showing real-time availability, even at the last minute.