Traveling: a Guide to Spontaneity

Traveling: a Guide to Spontaneity

The greatest piece of advice I have received is to drop all possible responsibilities and just GO. Alright, maybe the greatest piece was actually somewhere along the very tangible lines of how to save money or properly wash a cast iron skillet, but considering whimsy and grandeur, driving away from all that is mind-boggling has been my favorite.

Having a space for spontaneity is important. It is pushing aside the work and papers and television and media scrolling that occupy so much of our already-overwhelmed brains and choosing to choose what is impulsive and unplanned and straight up fun. This little line of advice may be one that has particularly resonated because of the love I already have for adventures and conversations and new people, but I have decided still to let it be a driving force and implemented piece for all of my days.

Deciding to go, in an act of spontaneity, might mean driving down new highways, climbing mountains into the slow crawl of a sunrise, booking a plane ticket because your airline will not stop crowding your inbox with one way sales, or simply a run down the trail that has been beckoning since you last named that resolution. It is in spontaneity that we discover the smallest and best and most hidden pieces of ourselves, all in one.

Whether it is solo or with the random passerby you happen to catch on your run out the door (alright, actually put some thought to this, but no-so-random passerby doesn’t have the same ring to it), I’ve put together the smallest list of ideas for growing the little seed of spontaneity that is in each one of you.

Go According to Your Comfort Zone

Take the advice to “up and go” with a grain of salt. Don’t book a ticket to the East Coast when you have yet to catch a local flight. That being said, don’t limit yourself! There is a beauty to this guide, and that is that it is imaginative and personal and entirely within the confines of your own mind. I used to give myself little challenges in high school; I was far too dependent on the comfort of others and of routine, but at the same time those things made me want to rip my hair out. How do you embrace spontaneity when you are fearful? Go to the store alone. Walk around the sale racks and try on clothes and tell yourself that you are the coolest. Go up from there; go on coffee dates with a book and to movies by yourself even if it means sitting in the back row and pretending like you are waiting for your sister (the truest story of my former self). Your habits of bringing spotantiety into your life will take root and form, so long as you go according to what feels right and good.

Be Prepared (just a little)
Fill up your gas tank and grab the half-eaten box of cereal on your way out the door. Spontaneity doesn’t have to mean abandoning all that is preparing and feeling safe. You can simultaneously check Google Maps for blizzard-causing road closures while also taking off in the middle of the night to climb some mountains. 

Invite Others In

The greatest stories I have are when I have gotten antsy and decided to drive away, into sunsets and beach storms and National Parks when they open their doors for FREE and have invited whoever has been in my path of running towards the car. The best trip was to Mount Rainier with a midnight decision to catch the sunrise and a subsequent 3 AM departure. It was a college-dorm-hallway plan, and gathered the girls from down the hall, the boy from the first floor, and an old friend that happened to be brushing her teeth. Invite them all in. Long rides and freedom and singing as loud as you can is better with others.

Make it a Habit
This one might seem a little contradictory, a habit of being spontaneous? But listen just for a second. I think that when we let routine rule our lives, it becomes more and more difficult to break the mechanism of this steadiness. If you are a list-oriented, planning, check all the things off with the ballpoint pen type of person (I hope I am not alone in this), this is for you to hear. Make it your plan to get away, even if it is just once a month. We were made to adventure and laugh and run and ride, and the world is full of the most beautiful spaces for this. Get off of work and drive to the coast on a Friday afternoon, just because! Bring your deadlined-homework to the bus and let the driver take you around and around until you find a new spot that catches your eye. Wake up at 5:00 (you can do it!) just once and drive up hills and mountains and parking garages to find the sweetest spot to watch the day break. The best stories come from whimsy, and the best discovery of your abilities and capacity for adventure comes from this.

And in the truest fashion of adventure and whimsy, choose to ignore this list and do what is quite opposite.


Erin McChurch is a student in Portland, Oregon studying Social Work and Theology. She enjoys running, writing, listening to others' stories, and drinking all the coffee ever in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Follow along her adventures @erinmaureen__ !

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