There are a lot of things I love about working remotely—a thing I’ve been doing for so long now I often forget that most people still have to be somewhere at a certain time every day. One of those things is the freedom to pack up at the drop of a hat and swan off somewhere, just because “it’s there”. (Note to self: stop giving this as your reason for being somewhere to immigration officers. They don’t much care for it.) I travel so much—both for work and for the why-not of it all—that I’ve become a bit nonchalant about it.
I’ve also noticed that as I’m getting older, more and more of my decisions are becoming driven almost entirely by whimsy. I say “as I’m getting older,” but that could well be total nonsense. I lived in Mexico for three months because it was “on the way” to Thailand. I took a five-hour flight to the Canary Islands to spend Christmas Eve on the beach with my little sister because the flight was cheap and I like sitting on beaches reading books with her. I moved back to the UK because I couldn’t think of a compelling reason not to and, depending on who you ask and how much it’s rained that day, the weather is generally nicer than Canada’s.
What I’m trying to say here is that whimsy has always been a pretty enthusiastic driver of my decisions.
So I’m embracing it. For the next year, I’m letting kismet and whomever is in charge or pricing airline tickets make (most of) my travel plans for me. Yes, there’s an inherent amount of privilege exposed in basically turning international travel into a flight of fancy. That’s okay. I’ll try not to be too much of a brat about it. My hope is that this may introduce me to new places I’d otherwise never bother visiting. I’m letting fate be my travel agent.
Here are the rules:
1. Search Skyscanner for “everywhere”.
Skyscanner’s everywhere search is magic if you happen to be a whimsy-driven human like myself. I’m going to aim to do this once a month, so I’ll be searching for either the upcoming or the current month, depending on how last-minute this is. (Chances are “very”.)
Generally this means I’ll be searching from Edinburgh, but I’m allowing myself to fly from elsewhere in the UK (Glasgow, London) if convenient and if it makes for an interesting trip.
If I happen to be elsewhere at the time, I’ll run the search from there. Probably need to avoid spending long periods of time in Montreal, or I’ll be headed to fabulous Sudbury a whole lot, and I might wind up broke.
2. Select the cheapest destination I’ve never been to before.
Where “been to” equals “left the airport and did something, even if it was just eating lunch or walking through town”.
Note that whilst technically this means I could wind up flying with almost any airline, I’ll likely be flying a lot of Ryanair flights. Super looking forward to that.
3. Remove impractical flights from the pool.
Remove any suggested flights that lead to a stay longer than four days, and any that conflict with existing plans. Because otherwise I’ll end up spending three weeks in Copenhagen and that is not copasetic with my budget.
I’m still torn on whether or not to allow flights to UK cities I’ve never been to in here, because I absolutely loathe the thought of flying when I could just take the train instead. They turn up pretty rarely, so I’ll play it by ear.
4. Be a judgey jerkface about it.
Luckily, this comes pretty naturally to me, having had years and years of constant practise.
I’ll be rating each place based on the things that are important to me in terms of living my usual life, since I’m less of a traditional tourist and more “that weird girl who turns up and just wanders about a whole bunch and also I think maybe she spends twelve hours a day on Facebook?”
That basically boils down to the following: quality of wine (better wine = happier Sarahs), run-friendliness (because sometimes my favourite thing to do is go running in a new place), pain-to-travel ratio (because I’m inevitably going to fly Ryanair a whole lot and I might murder someone), and workability (because I can’t finance even super-cheap Ryanair flights if I can’t get my work done).
You know, the tourist essentials.
5. Write a post on my flight home.
Seriously, this is just a really expensive and convoluted way to force myself back into the habit of writing blog posts. I’ve already not succeeded in this endeavour for my first location, having come home a solid week or two ago and still having written nothing.
But my final rule may help with that:
6. No booking the next months’ flight until you’ve actually written up the current/previous months’ flight.
You utter disaster of a woman, you.
With that all set, I spun the wheel to see where I’d be headed in January (crossing my toes for someplace warm!) and I got: Baden-Baden, Germany, a little spa town on the edge of the Black Forest I’ve never even heard of before. Seems like a good start!