Why don’t you just get lost!

by Heddi Cundle / Aug 29, 2011 / 0 comments

When I was a kid, we took family vacations all around Europe. Being British, a trip to Spain, France, and Italy was just a spits throw away so we had a great advantage. One thing we always made as a rule of thumb: try get lost at least one day and see what happens. We’d shout to my dad ‘turn left, no right, another right, two lefts’ until we were utterly lost, made friends with locals and found hidden towns.


Since then, I’ve used that rule in every trip I’ve ever taken. It’s a simple case of say, getting in a rental car, knowing the destination you’re heading to yet taking intentional wrong left and right turns along the way. Some of the places I’ve seen from veering off the beaten track have been astounding. I’ve driven past military bases in the Negev Israel and seen rare sandstorms, found monkey sanctuaries in England, popped into a wedding in Prague, found a boyfriend (albeit, short term) in Northern Crete, accidentally drove into a street fair in Sienna, got stuck in a field surrounded by sheep (very British Rom-Com movie style, I know) and bumped into long lost friends in Champagne, France.


There’s something about making a specific ‘get lost’ plan whether on foot, on the train or in a car that just absolutely lets you know that the day may turn into something you didn’t expect, guilt free from a compass. If I’d not have let my feet do the walking, would I have found incredible snorkeling in an isolated Maui beach or walked into a movie Premiere After Party after getting lost in Hollywood? Probably not.


I’m talking about throwing away the map for at least one day on your travels and see what crops up. I can guarantee that this will be the one day you validate as making the whole trip worthwhile.  This happens often with me. I even have witnesses! Friends and I hiked up the top of the hill at Hvar, Croatia and found the Castle. Now we knew it was within walking distance but didn’t plan this hike, nor my knocking on a 100ft door to see if the castle was open, certainly not expecting to be given a late after-hours entry and never expecting to see the fireworks display as VIP guests at the peak of the castle. This all came from just hitting the off-beat path and knocking on an oversized, yet impressive, door.


It’s all based on generating a new mindset with no expectations. The world is certainly not just a tourist beach, or museum, a castle or a zoo. It’s about finding the beach, museum, castle or zoo that you have to Google afterwards because the guide books or TripAdvisor never emphasized this. It’s focusing on being in the exact moment where you just decide, that day, you’re going to take alternate left and right turns and see what happens. If you’re on a train, just use the same rule of thumb – get off at any random stop and start walking or take the bus into the nearest village.


You went traveling for a reason so make sure you make the most of it. Not every vacation needs a dramatic ‘get lost’ series but the more you take these on each journey, the more you’ll see they’re so much more fun than laying like a beach whale by the pool with the other tourists, having stranger’s kids splash you from belly flops, the repetition of water polo at 4pm and the same bar menu served by a suspicious waiter with a nervous twitch and unsteady cocktail hand.


Since you’re reading WanderingEducators, we already know you’re fearless travelers but what we do suggest is that you also hit up myTab to help plan and save for the next trip. This way, you’re not breaking the bank and you can have friends & family gift you travel cash if say, you’ve a birthday coming up or they want to encourage your trip to Ecuador, since they went last year. Regardless, you’re saving and gearing up for your trip, planning to go by yourself or inviting Facebook friends and then hopping on that plane. We guarantee when you return, you’ll not be able to look a friend in the eye without telling them to get lost either. 


By Heddi Cundle, myTab.co – a social travel gift registry where you can gift, save, plan and book travels