Travel on a Whim: Help Me Plan an Impromptu Adventure!

What would you do if you could wake up tomorrow and literally go anywhere?

What would it feel like to do something like that on a whim? To open a map and point to a place and say, “I’m going to go there!” And then, in the next few days, actually make it there?

Travel on a Whim

I ask because that’s exactly the question I’ve presented myself with. I’m going off on an adventure in the coming days but I don’t know where to yet! It could literally be to anywhere in the world that my frequent flier miles will take me!

Talk about traveling on a whim, huh? And to be honest, while I’ve done plenty of things on a whim (like going to Egypt after my miserable Christmas Eve in Bethlehem, my Salt Lake City trip, or re-doing my China plans after freezing my butt off on the “Dragon’s Backbone” rice terraces), I’ve never planned a trip quite like this before… A trip to somewhere! But where?

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Why am I doing this?

Why not? I’m an opportunist and life has presented me with the perfect chance. So why not do something crazy like this? I’ve been itching for an adventure and flying by the seat of my pants is exhilarating! It almost feels like one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I used to read as a kid, but in real life!

The Criteria

I’ve narrowed down my choices by thinking about a few considerations…

1)   I need to go somewhere that I can travel relatively cheaply. Being a trip on a whim, I haven’t saved up for a fixed amount of time or anything. I don’t have a daily budget set but I’m willing to set aside a fixed amount for “on the ground” expenses. (Sorry Europe, Australia and New Zealand…)

2)   I’d rather avoid places with complicated visa situations. With such short notice, I don’t really have time to deal with embassies and whatnot. So I need either a country with a visa waiver program for U.S. Citizens or a country that offers visas-on-arrival.

3)   It needs to be a place that I can get a mileage flight to, preferably a “Saver” award at half the price of a full award ticket. (Alas, this puts me out of luck for South America as there’s nothing available next week)

4)   I’d love to take this opportunity to explore some new countries.. (Here are the ones I’ve been to…)

This trip begins Wednesday, July 17, as I am flying to San Francisco to visit family (booked that ticket this morning). From there, the real fun begins…

The Options

Using the above criteria, I’ve come up with two potential options since I started looking yesterday.

Indonesia

Despite my two trips that have covered almost all of Southeast Asia, I’ve never been to Indonesia and I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things! It’s such a wonderfully varied country though that I’m not sure where I would begin! But it’s cheap and one of those places you could spend eons in and never see it all.

Morocco

Morocco wasn’t really on my radar till I was talking to Talon of 1 Dad, 1 Kid, 1 Crazy Adventure, who was raving about it! It’s attractive to me as it’s a further look at “Middle Eastern” culture that I’ve gotten to know over the past year and there’s a certain mystique to it. It’s small enough to get a good impression of and it’s a great springboard to Europe by ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar. I could head to Europe afterwards, travel till the money I’ve set aside runs out, and then book a mileage flight home on a day or two’s notice!

Other Options

I’ve also been eyeing options to go to southern Africa, but I haven’t explored those plans quite as much. Maybe I could fly to Johannesburg, South Africa and go from there? We’ll see. I’m heading to the bookstore later today for some inspiration, which may help inform this decision. Stay tuned!

What do you think?

If you were in my shoes, where would you go? Any thoughts on my options or other places you think I should be considering?

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14 Responses to Travel on a Whim: Help Me Plan an Impromptu Adventure!

  1. Becky @ New Girl in the Air July 15, 2013 at 2:11 pm #

    I loved Morocco and would highly recommend it if you are willing to put up with some hot weather. It’s easy to get around by bus/train, quite inexpensive ($50/day should cover you), and it offers a lot of variety. Within a week, you can cover ancient cities, modern quarters, deserts, mountains, and coastline. I shared my thoughts at http://boardingarea.com/newgirlintheair/2013/01/13/morocco-in-a-nutshell/

    I won’t fault you if you choose Indonesia instead, as it’s quite high on my “must visit” list. Seems like quite a country!

    • Aaron July 15, 2013 at 11:47 pm #

      Thanks! In addition to the heat, it’s also currently Ramadan. Not sure how that would affect traveling at all. Just the photos from Morocco alone are enough inspiration for me! We’ll see.

  2. Micamyx|Senyorita July 15, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    I was about to suggest Philippines hehe. Maybe you can go there after your Indonesia trip

    • Aaron July 15, 2013 at 11:48 pm #

      Hehe that’s always in the realm of possibility. Any suggestions for what to do there?

  3. Sindy July 15, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

    My choice within your options would diffidently be Morocco. Tetouan is a small town that is rich in culture and the people are very welcoming as well. The Ocean is nearby as well. It is on the Northern tip of Morocco just below Spain. Euro rail to Gibraltar then boat across. Very nice trip.

    • Aaron July 16, 2013 at 12:12 am #

      Good to know, thanks! I was actually thinking about your routing in reverse…sort of… Flying into southern Spain, ferrying across, exploring Morocco and then up into Europe via Gibraltar.

  4. @TravelEater July 16, 2013 at 12:30 am #

    Great dilemma, and I like all three on your short list (Morocco (autumn 2014) and Indonesia (November) are on my short list too).

    I had a similar dilemma in March and chose Panama. I spent a month total diving and swimming on the Pacific side (Pearl Islands); then sailing, snorkelling and relaxing in the laid back Bocas del Toro on the Caribbean side; then exploring UNESCO sites, the waterfront, restaurants and an animal rescue centre in Panama City. I’d recommend it!

    South Africa is a wonderful country (I was there July/August 2012). You can eat well there for not too much money, although the accommodations aren’t the cheapest. If you do get to southern Africa, don’t miss Namibia — lovely people, fascinating country, great safaris, and the coolest sand dunes anywhere (well, cool at sunrise when you’re climbing them, quite warm later in the day!)

    • Aaron July 23, 2013 at 1:48 am #

      Thanks for your thoughts! I decided against Morocco due to extremely high temperatures and Africa due to the expense. Safaris aren’t in my budget so I felt like that kind of defeated the point. I’ll get to both some day… In the meantime, I’m off to Indonesia! Like…tomorrow!

  5. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs July 16, 2013 at 8:04 am #

    South Africa is not that cheap actually. Morocco is an amazing place to travel, really great but the heat will kill you this time of a year! Indonesia, I have never been so can’t say, but how about Georgia, Armenia region but it will be hot as well…

    • Aaron July 23, 2013 at 1:50 am #

      Yeah finding an ideal travel destination for this time of year was actually really challenging, as seemingly every place I considered had some issues to it. South Africa? Expensive. Morocco? Too hot. Georgia/Armenia. Too expensive. I also looked at doing a loop around Eastern Europe starting in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but that proved to be a bit daunting on the budget too…

  6. Sam July 16, 2013 at 12:56 pm #

    Wow! How exciting. I haven’t been to any of the regions you are considering so I can’t comment on them, but Morocco really jumps out at me. Looking forward to see what you decide!

    • Aaron July 23, 2013 at 1:52 am #

      Morocco jumps out at me a lot too and when I was looking for images for this post and searched for “Morocco,” my jaw dropped at the images that came back! Unfortunately, as I went on to learn, finding ideal destinations for August is actually really tough and I decided against Morocco due to the extremely high temperatures (up to 50 C!)

  7. Linda July 16, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    Hi Aaron,
    I would choose Morocco, but not during Ramadan. I grew up there and Ramadan is not the best time to go: lots of stores close such as coffee shops, the rhythm is really slower, you’ll feel uncomfortable eating/drinking outside, etc…

    • Aaron July 23, 2013 at 1:54 am #

      Great advice thanks! I decided against Morocco, in part due to Ramadan but mostly due to a realization that the extreme summer temperatures would probably make my life rather miserable.

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