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?

New Orleans: An Unexpected Journey…

It started out simple enough…

I was in Houston for Christmas and Merelyn had a couple of days off for New Years.  We hadn’t really made plans for anything so we decided to head to Galveston for some quick beach time and then head home for a quiet New Year’s Eve together.  Then, about a half an hour into our drive, Merelyn said, “You know…we could just drive to New Orleans for New Year’s.”

Now, she’s mentioned driving to New Orleans before.  It’s only about 6 hours away and neither of us have been there.  It could be fun, but every time we’ve looked into it we’ve decided not to go.  I knew it was something she wanted to do before leaving Houston.  So when she threw the suggestion out there (half joking I’m sure), I took the bait.

“Is there any reason why we couldn’t go right now?”

We went through the list: No clothes, no toothbrush, the cats didn’t have enough food, etc.  None of those reasons, I argued, would be a problem in the next 24 to 36 hours.  We could drive to New Orleans, be there in time for dinner and hang out for New Year’s, maybe spend the night then drive home.  No problem.  Merelyn seemed a little surprised and scared that I was actually accepting her challenge but I thought it would be FUN!

As quick as that, we changed our plans from a few hours in Galveston to an overnight trip to New Orleans.  We made a quick stop at the Johnson Space Center then headed East.

We were both so excited to be on this spontaneous adventure that the drive was easy.  Merelyn was excited to be exploring and I was excited to get out of Texas and see some of Louisiana.  We usually have a good time on road trips, laughing and talking and exploring the sights.  This was no different and the added excitement of just going, without a plan, made it all that much better.

Action in the French Quarter - New Orleans

beautiful New OrleansAbout an hour outside of New Orleans we started looking for a hotel (we found none for a reasonable price) and a bank so we could grab some cash.  We found a bank next to a grocery store, so we grabbed some cash and did a quick run for some essentials (toothbrushes and beer).  Then we were off to explore the French Quarter!

We parked in the sketchiest of sketchy parking garages where they were packing cars in like it was a contest.  I was convinced they were going to keep piling cars in until the rickety, rust-bucket structure collapsed.  We paid our $20 and high-tailed it to Bourbon Street, right in the heart of the French Quarter, where the action was just picking up steam.

Even through the thick, drunken crowds of Bourbon Street, New Orleans’ historic French Quarter is charming.  We grabbed a beer and walked up and down the streets and alleyways checking out the architecture and looking through the windows of the shops and galleries.  We got away from the crowds a little bit and took our time sight-seeing.  We walked down to the waterfront and walked along the river for a while.  Then ventured back into the rabble and checked out a few bars and pubs, had a couple more drinks and a snack.

Getting ready for Midnight -  New OrleansCloser to midnight we headed back down to the riverfront park and waited for the big fireworks show.  It was cold and I had offered up my jacket to keep my wife from getting chilled.  We hung out on a grassy rise, looking out over the Mississippi, holding each other close to stay warm.  It’s been difficult these past couple years spending so much time apart.  So when midnight came, there was a sweet and simple triumph in getting to kiss my wife at the ringing in of the New Year while fireworks painted the night sky…in New Orleans.

Spur of the moment adventures can be full of magic and excitement.  There’s nothing better than ending your day in a totally unexpected and amazing way.  That morning, we had a modest plan and no expectations and we ended our night with a magical moment in a new city.  I can only hope that throughout our marriage we make time for many more spontaneous adventures together.

New Year's Fireworks - New Orleans

I loved our New Orleans adventure, does anyone else have any awesome, unexpected, spontaneous adventures they can share?