1. It’s about the journey rather than the destination. If you’re fixated on the destination, you’re missing out on everything on the way there, and you’re bound to be disappointed because things never ALWAYS go our way.
2. The unexpected is bound to happen. With everything being unknown, you never know anything really. You don’t know exactly how long the bus journey will be, or if it will indeed leave that day or if it will break down or if you get your connecting bus….and if you ‘plan’ for the unexpected ahead of time, as much as you can, then you won’t be disappointed and you will just end where you do at the end of the day with no attachment.
4. You can get better deals with your accommodation by not booking ahead. Booking online there is always a set price and it’s usually more expensive. With walking directly up to the hotel and talking with the clerk, there is always an opportunity to bargain with the price, and even more so if you’re staying for a few nights. I have gotten some stellar deals through the simplicity of human interaction, and smiling of course. I very rarely book my accommodation ahead of time, unless it’s a big city I’m coming into or I am coming from the airport or it’s a local holiday.
5. You can see firsthand the array of hotels/hostels on offer in the town. This is particularly easy if it’s a small town. It’s important to see the hotel live, the condition of it and the feel of it (which is very important when traveling alone). It’s easy to ask to see the room itself and see which amenities they offer, all without any obligation; then choose from there, which one you fancy and what suits your needs. I often wander and see several hotels before I choose which one. I have gotten some superb hotels in stellar locations by not booking ahead. See my room below in Canoa.
6. It will open up doors for you. Planning and making everything concrete closes a lot of doors as then you are fixed to that agenda. You might miss out on a local festival that you didn’t know was happening or you might want to go a completely different route to meet up with some travelers that you met before. No concrete plans, the world is your oyster.
7. It’s good for your spirit to let go and just go with the flow. This will humble you and give you faith, not to mention unbelievable freedom.
8. Everything ALWAYS works out. You must surrender to this idea and truly believe it. It takes practice, refer back to #7. Many times on my travels things haven’t gone as I expected but I always ended up to be fine, and inevitably where I was supposed to, otherwise I simply wouldn’t be there.
Case in point. My journey from Banos to the coastal town of Canoa ended taking me 2 ½ days. I initially thought I could do it in one day but soon realized that that would be setting myself up for disappointment. If I had booked hostels in advance I would have had to continue with my ‘plan’.
Day one: Banos to Quito. Four hour bus ride. 45 mins taxi (local buses are hard to figure out without much spanish and also full of pickpocketers) to new town of Quito straight to the office of Reina del Camino bus company. Purchased ticket for the next day as I had already missed it for the current day and I wasn’t keen to take the overnight bus. Walked to find a hostel closeby but luckily I had already researched for possibilities just in case.
Day two: Executive bus with Reina del Camino ($10) leaving at noon from Quito to Bahia de Caraquez. Went to the supermercado for provisions for my long bus ride. Arrived in Bahia about 830pm. I was exhausted and not wanting to go farther. Grabbed a taxi for $2 to middle of town and found a hostel.
Day three: Rather than taking two local buses to get to Canoa, which would have cost me $3 probably, I treated myself to a cab for $7. It took about 20 minutes. I got dropped off at Coco Loco hostel but it was full. I checked out a few other hotels. I had a few criteria – oceanfront with balcony and hammock. I found one with ease for $20/night, right next door. I am glad the initial hostel was full because I truly lucked out.