How to be Spontaneous: Tips for Unexpected Trips…

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” – Win Borden

Spontaneous Road Trip to New Orleans, LouisianaHaving the freedom, and the courage, to say YES when unexpected opportunities present themselves is one of the great joys in life.  Some of the greatest adventures are the unplanned twists, turns and deviations from our chosen path.  So many of us turn a blind eye to these spontaneous opportunities because we are scared or unprepared to take on the unknown.  With a little preparation and confidence, we can more easily approach these forks in the road and take the path less traveled…

Road Trip sign stop "How 'Bout Them Nuts?"On our recent accidental trip to New Orleans, we were fairly unprepared for such a detour.  Ultimately, that didn’t hold us back and we made the trip anyway and had an amazing time.  We were able to stop and grab most of the items that we thought we needed from a common grocery store, but had we packed the items ahead of time the decision would have been even easier.

“Only in spontaneity can we be who we truly are.” – John McLaughlin

That got me thinking about putting together a simple “Go Bag” that would include some basic essentials for spontaneous trips.  I thought about the things we needed and asked around for more suggestions and came up with a pretty basic list of items that would be easy to keep in a small bag in your car for those unexpected cross-country road trips.

The Go Bag:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Tissue
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • First Aid Kit
  • Feminine Hygiene Products
  • Water bottle
  • Deodorant (via Beth)
  • Sunscreen (via Jennifer)

Spontaneous Detour to Punxsutawney, PennsylvaniaWe also came up with a list of items that should go with you anytime you head out, just in case you need them.  Sometimes, something as simple as taking spare shoes or an extra jacket will allow you to be better prepared to accept a spontaneous adventure.  It helps knowing that you have some basic items “just in case you need them”.

And again, being prepared will make it easier to be spontaneous and add adventures to your schedule without stress or worry.

Day Trip Essentials:

  • Change of Clothes
  • Layers (jacket, sweater, etc)
  • Snacks
  • Extra Water
  • Cash
  • Camera
  • Multi-Tool
  • Phone Chargers
  • Local Maps
  • Prescription Medications ( via Anthony)
  • Plastic bags (via Jennifer)
  • Pen/Pencil and paper (via Jennifer)

Being prepared for a spontaneous road trip also means keeping your vehicle maintained and ready to cover some miles.  Always start with a full tank, keep basic oils and fluids in the trunk and always carry a roadside emergency kit.  My wife also keeps an emergency bag in the trunk with extra water bottles, blankets, sweater, hat, gloves, and food.

What do you keep in your car for unexpected adventures?  What would you add to these lists?

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Dave Creech is a successful business owner and entrepreneur based in Phoenix, Arizona. He shares his personal story and lifelong passion for travel and rugged outdoor adventure through his blog at David’s focus has been on trip stories, gear reviews, Wilderness Medicine and a series of articles aimed at introducing Yoga to hikers and backpackers as a path to staying fit, healthy and injury free.



  1. Now that we LIVE in our vehicle it’s all a little bit easier but before, we used to keep a bag with toothbrushes and deodorant in the car. That was pretty much all we figured that we NEEDED to have. Anything beyond that was just luxury. :-)

  2. What a great idea to have a bag ready to go…just in case. It reminds me of a quote by comedian Stephen Wright, “Plan to be spontaneous tomorrow.” I like your lists. One thing I might add to that is to include any medications you might be taking, just so you don’t HAVE to be home to take them.

    • Anthony!

      You know what’s really funny? I was looking at the lists after I published the post and “Medications” occurred to me. That’s a great, and important, addition. Nothing worse than having to call a trip short because you forgot your Meds.

  3. the multi-tool, always the multi-tool ahahha!

  4. I keep what I refer to as my Armaggedon Bag in my car. This was inspired by the large brown messenger bag my Mom used to keep in the car with “stuff”. It is the largest tote bag that LL Bean makes. It contains everything I would need to get out of town – either spontaneously or permanently. (I live in one of those cities with the permanent target on it.)

    Among the contents:

    Change of underwear/clothes (one for winter season, one for summer season)
    Cold weather items (hat, gloves,scarf, blanket,handwarmers)
    Warm weather items (sunscreen,ballcap)
    Hygiene items (fem. supplies, soap, toilet paper, hand sanitizer,toothbrush,a plastic bag, air sickness bags, tissues)
    Emergency supplies (duct tape, Leatherman, twine, emergency candle, waterproof matches, peanut butter,flashlight,first aid kit,tow strap) In the winter this is supplemented with a small shovel and an ice scraper.
    Fun items (picnic blanket)
    Misc. (pen, pencil, paper, Sharpie)
    Car items (jumper cables,flares,triangle,fire extinguisher,set of tools,small compressor for tire air)

    There is an envelope of cash in the house to grab if necessary

    • Jen,

      Awesome…you guys were taught well. Merelyn’s bag is close, but not nearly as complete. Very nice list indeed. I do like the addition of sunscreen, plastic bags and duct tape. Also, pen/pencil and paper are always good items to have in the car.

      I also keep a stash of cash, just to have it handy.


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