It’s 11:16 pm and I’m in the middle of nowhere…
Well, kinda. I’m surrounded by the mountains of Picos de Europa National Park in Northern Spain. I’m here on my own, in the back seat of my rental car.
The only things I hear around me are crickets chirping, a nearby river flowing, and the occasional raindrop on the roof of the car.
Over the last couple weeks, I’ve been giving the “wing it” style of travel a go. In other words, I don’t develop much of a plan and just see where I end up.
The “wing it” style is nothing new. It tends to be the preferred method of traveling around the world for many backpackers and gap year travelers.
Yet, coming from my travel background it’s not a staple for me or many fellow Americans.
Nevertheless, my travels in the past month have brought me from picturesque beach towns to loud cities, to now, secluded mountain ranges.
Tonight, I’m surrounded by snow-capped mountains, dense forests, and natural backdrops too beautiful for words.
It Was All A Mistake
The original plan was to book a last minute hostel in town.
I’d meet a couple cool people, have a drink, share a meal, maybe connect via social media, but eventually go our separate ways for the rest of our lives. You know, the usual solo travel routine.
By the time I realized there wasn’t any space left in the hostels in this small town, I had already purchased my one-way bus ticket and reserved a rental car for the day.
Too late to turn back now.
I embraced the uncertainty of the situation and boarded my bus to a new city.
When I arrived, I picked up my rental car and began asking for recommendations. The National Park caught my attention so I headed this way.
Twenty-four hours ago I had no idea I’d be here, writing and sleeping from my rental car, surrounded by a beautiful national park in Northern Spain. But, I embraced the beauty of the unexpected, stayed open to possibilities, and it led me to this new and beautiful place I never intended to see.
The Beauty of The Unexpected
In any adventure, there will be unexpected moments. You’ll have to change your preconceived plans and hope for the best.
These moments are usually unwelcome surprises as they’re occurring. A missed train, a storm, or a lack of a bed can easily spark stress and frustration.
Yet, in my experience, much of the magic of solo travel (and travel in general) occurs in those moments of unexpected surprises. The moments where you leave yourself open to whatever the universe has in store for you.
I’ve had countless situations where a “worst case scenario” at the moment, turned into an opportunity that I could never have imagined.
That missed train in Italy turned into meeting a new friend on the platform that I would never have otherwise met. A storm in Iceland turned into one of my favorite travel stories of all time. And a lack of a bed in Spain created my trip to this beautiful national park.
Enjoy and embrace the beauty of the unexpected on your travels.
This can be difficult in the moment, but by keeping five mental models in mind I can effectively overcome the fear of the unknown.