If I had to choose one tip for the best travel advice, I would tell you to be as spontaneous and flexible as possible while you’re traveling. Try to avoid making too many plans in advance because great unforeseen opportunities always come up and some of your best memories often come from when you decide to do something on a whim. Basically, this means to get out of your comfort zone and become a “yes” person and say “yes” to new adventures and experiences (this can and should be applied at home too).
These are examples of some of my favourite spontaneous memories:
Midnight Swim in Cambodia
I arrived in Siem Reap, Cambodia from Canada two days before, so I was atrociously jet lagged. I went to bed and was just falling asleep when a guy in my hostel room, woke me up and asked if I wanted to go swimming with him and some others at a pool nearby. Typically, I’m not the biggest fan of getting woken up and it would’ve been so easy to say no and go back to sleep, which I desperately needed, but it sounded fun, so I went!
A group of a few guys and girls went to a nearby hotel and we each paid $1 to use the pool. It was so fun and I’m so glad I went!
I met up with one of the guys from the pool night in Bangkok a month and a half later, and a few years later, we still keep in touch.
Impromptu Sunrise in Siem Reap
The same night as the midnight swim, after only a few hours of sleep, I was wide awake at 4:45am from the jet lag. This had happened the last few mornings, so I thought that since I was already awake, I might as well go see the sunrise at Angkor Wat because it was on my list anyway.
I got a tuk tuk and as we were driving there, the sun was starting to rise, so I was going to miss the full sunrise at Angkor Wat. I only had one day left on my pass to Angkor Wat and I didn’t want to waste it on a half-assed sunrise, so I changed my mind and the driver took me to the countryside to see the sunrise there.
And this happened:
*Update- 5 years later and it’s still one of my favorite sunrises
Barbecue in Mendoza, Argentina
I was in Mendoza and booked to leave for Chile on a night bus that night, but in the morning I met some Argentines at my hostel who asked if I wanted to join them for a barbecue that night. Barbecue is one of Argentina’s specialities, so the answer was a very enthusiastic yes.
Ten of us went to buy an impressive and grand assortment of meat, but it was getting late and I needed to leave for my bus soon. All the Argentines were trying to convince me to change my ticket. One of them said that he was going to throw my ticket into the fire. This was a proper Argentine barbecue with Argentines; it really doesn’t get more authentic than that. I decided that I couldn’t miss this, so I skipped my bus. There weren’t any beds available in our hostel, but I figured I’d worry about that later. I was going to take the early bus the next morning and with the way Argentines party, there was a good chance I would have no use for a bed anyway.
The barbecue was amazing. There was so much glorious meat that I’m pretty sure we had every land animal on our plates.
We went to the bar after and danced the night away.
I got to bed at 6am (a bed made of couch cushions that I borrowed from the common room) and got up at 7:45am for my bus to Chile, in which I slept the entire way.
Morocco Road Trip
I was in Fez and had decided to leave for Marrakech the next morning, when I met eight people in my hostel room who were traveling together and adopted me right away. Within five minutes of meeting them, they invited me to come to Meknes with them for the next few days. They seemed fun, so I went with it. I figured that if I wasn’t feeling it later on, I could leave whenever I wanted.
I ended up having a blast and spent the next few days road tripping in Morocco with them. I went back to Casablanca with them, where half of them were studying, and then I continued on to Essaouira with two of them until they had to go home. I would’ve traveled with them even longer, if possible. It was one of the top highlights of my entire month and a half trip in Morocco and Turkey.
Shark Cage Diving in South Africa
I had arrived in Cape Town from Canada after 36 hours of travel (3 flights, 2 of which were long haul flights back to back) and I was absolutely wrecked. I couldn’t help it and immediately had a 3 hour nap as soon as I arrived. As soon as I woke up, two people in my room invited me to come to dinner with them and some others and they also invited me to come shark cage diving with them tomorrow morning. But wake up was 3:30am. That was not appealing after such a long journey, but I knew I wanted to go shark cage diving anyway, I had met a good group of people and I’d likely be wide awake anyway around then, so I took a page out of my Cambodia book and went for it. A few years later and we all still keep in touch 🙂
I’ve got loads of other travel stories like this. Being spontaneous is very freeing and fun, so take every opportunity that comes your way while you’re traveling and you’ll have the trip of a lifetime with unforgettable experiences and memories.
Just do it.
For more travel tips, see My 44 Best Travel Tips From 11 Years of Traveling the World