The beauty of daring and being spontaneous is that you don’t know where you’ll end up, but you have the will to go anywhere anyway.
Unplanned vacations are not only a learning process for me, but also one of my favorite hobbies. When I was a child, I always loved to research about the place I’m going. I loved looking in depth at the things to do and create a detailed itinerary for the entire duration of my trips (even for our family road trips).
As I grew older, time became an issue. I don’t have that much time as I used to. Time flies and waits for nobody. I’ll wake up at 8:00 am some days and go through a couple tabs on my laptop and next thing I know, it’s 5:00 pm and I haven’t accomplished anything. So, that’s where my spontaneous traveling came in.
I’ve never been the daring and adventurous kind of traveler, until I started doing it. I usually go somewhere for a maximum of three or four days, never more, unless I’m going on a family vacation.
In January, I went to Tokyo with some friends. I made up my mind late night on December 31st, and took off for Japan on January 1st. After spending only three days (even though when we landed, my friends said we’d stay for four days) in Japan, I took a plane to Dubai, where I said I would spend only two days before going back home (but that didn’t happen, read more here about the crazy aftermath of my experience in Dubai).
My unexpected Tokyo trip was cut short a day because my friends wanted to go back and in return, I found myself in Dubai. My cousin was expected to be there for a few days, so I thought, why not? Besides, I don’t get to see my family often, so it was a good opportunity to catch up.
I booked The Rove, which I think is by far one of my favorite hotels. The hotel was unique and reminded me of a Pinterest and Instagram feed. But, I guess part of it also has to do with the fact that I’m a sucker for graffiti and each floor had amazing art work! I was sold from the moment I stepped in the lobby. I mean, where else do I find an Instagram-worthy hotel filled with blogger-style photo ops (even in their room!) with video games (say no more!), a pinball machine and ping pong tables?
Spotted in the Lobby at The Rove
I’m pretty sure I winged step one to enjoying a last minute trip:
Find a nice place to stay.
Even if you’re only planning on using the place to sleep, finding a nice, affordable place with a convenient location changes your attitude and motivates you to get out, instead of staying in. (I don’t know about you, but I find it so hard to go out, especially when I’m traveling alone, because all I want to do is stay in my room and sleep, but that’s such a waste!)
Step two: say yes to trying new opportunities.
Probably the hardest part of landing in a place you’ve never been to or heard of before is thinking about what to do! A quick Google search usually does the job and tells you the major tourist attractions. But sometimes, it helps to look elsewhere other than Google.
My go-to is Instagram! I usually put in the location and scroll through people’s pictures to find hidden gems of that particular location. That’s exactly where I learned about the Dubai Miracle Garden and La Mer.
If you Google “things to do in Dubai,” the top four things that appear are: Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeirah and The Dubai Mall. The Dubai Miracle Garden doesn’t even appear until nearly the end of the list, which by then, I’d probably have closed already the tab. La Mer isn’t even on the list of the top things to do in Dubai, but a visit there may give you the chance to meet more locals than if you were to go to The Dubai Mall.
Another hit is the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel for a great view of Dubai (especially at night) from their 68th floor bar.
Even if these places may be have busy with people, they wouldn’t be as packed as if you were to visit the major attractions. (I don’t like crowds, which is why I also like to look for alternate options).
Another thing about Dubai is that they’re constantly expanding. The week that I was in Dubai happened to be the week that the Dubai Frame opened.
The newest attraction of the UAE: The Dubai Frame
When I landed in Dubai, I told my cousin I’ll spend only two days with her and then I’ll go back home. We tried to fit everything we could in two days, but obviously, there’s only so much you can do. It gets tiring, so we decided to go against that. We took it easy, relaxed and just went sightseeing according to our interests.
Just because everyone else is doing something doesn’t mean you should too.
Atlantis The Palm Hotel captured from outside
I went to Atlantis The Palm, to see what’s the big hype about it and spent some time at The Lost Chambers Aquarium, the same place where you may recognize a lot of people take their creative iconic shot with the stingrays and fish swimming by. If I didn’t have to worry about rushing to the airport, I would’ve also spent some time at the Aquaventure Waterpark.
Fast forward three days later, I made it out of Dubai and on to my next adventure.
I leave it to you to find the courage to try a last-minute trip where you just pack and go. If you can’t decide where to go, then check out this company that promotes this spontaneous travel practice, where you can just pack up and go. Leave it to them to do all the planning to relieve you the stress of finding things to do.
As John Lennon once said:
“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”
Live life freely and with no regrets.
Don’t let life pass you by.
Live well. Go for it. Just do it.