1. Have unscheduled days.
Waking up to an alarm and/or having to be somewhere at a certain time is so unrelaxing. My favorite thing is when my Google calendar alerts land in my inbox and say “you have no events scheduled today.” Bliss!
2. Embrace last minute plans.
Sites like Priceline allow you to find great deals on hotels and flights at the very last minute, including the day of travel in many cases. There is often no need to book ahead to get a good deal. You may even get a better deal by waiting.
3. Buy flexible tickets.
For example, Southwest Airlines allow you to date change tickets at no additional cost (unless there is a fare difference). By buying flexible tickets or making flexible bookings you may or may not pay a little extra but you build in flexibility.
Flights are the hardest tickets to get on a flexible basis without paying a lot more but hotel and rental car reservations are usually similarly priced regardless of whether you prepay or book option you can cancel. For rental car reservations, you often don’t even need to provide a credit card to make a reservation, so that’s an easy thing to keep flexible.
4. Budget high enough for your destination.
It’s a lot easier to feel free if you’re not sticking to a super tight daily budget. I’ve never really budgeted for travel since I’m naturally frugal. I know my minimum comfort level and stick to that with a few good value splurges from time to time. Have some money in your budget for spontaneous splurges, like the odd late night cab, nice sit down meal, or expensive theatre ticket.
Sometimes people travelling long term can grind to halt and find themselves doing nothing and not leaving their room all day. This can happen when people become stressed about their budget or are sick of sticking to only free and cheap activities.
5. Mix and match your travel style.
The more you mix and match your travel style, the more you’ll learn to be comfortable in any travel environment from hostels to 4 and 5 star hotels. Freedom is feeling like you can strike up a conversation with people from all sorts of walks of life and feeling like you can be yourself in a variety of different environments.
6. Give yourself the gift of permission to change plans.
Sometimes people fall into the trap of making plans and then feeling like a failure if they don’t stick to them. It’s hard to predict exactly what places you’re going to fall in love with and what you might be disappointed with. Therefore you need to cut yourself some slack and allow yourself to change plans. If you find somewhere you love, don’t leave because you think you “should” or “have to.” In my experience, there aren’t that many places in the world that feel energetically “just right” for each particular person. Therefore when you find somewhere that seems like the perfect match for you, linger as long as feels good. You never know when your next chance to do that will be.
Photo: Central Park, New York City.