Are You an Impulsive Traveler?

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I must admit that, yes, sometimes I can be a pretty impulsive person.

Whether it's something I want to do, somewhere I want to go, or something I want to buy, often once I get an idea in my head, there is little time between the formation of that idea and its implementation.


Being impulsive can be freeing!

This impulsiveness of mine has so far prompted me to join clubs in college, buy new gadgets, try some pretty extreme sports, and even quit my job to go back to school.

And being impulsive has, at times, impacted the way I travel, too. In fact, some of my best travel memories have come from me being impulsive.

Like the time my friend Jamie and I had a few hours to kill and decided to spend them bungy jumping.

Or the time two of my study abroad friends and I decided last-minute to book a small plane flight, which took us up over snow-capped mountains on a gorgeously clear day in one of my favorite travel memories to date.

Or the time my sister and I decided to stop at a random attraction in Nebraska, which turned out to be one of our favorite road trip stops.

Or, how about the time when I won a semi-sponsored trip to New Zealand, bought a plane ticket the next day, and was South Hemisphere-bound within three weeks?

It's exciting to give into impulses when you travel — even if it sometimes means taking a hit to the wallet. I think part of the reason we travel in the first place is for the unexpected opportunities that can crop up. We thrive off the potential of the unknown. And those of us who take advantage of those unplanned moments — those of us who give in to the impulses — are the ones who often come away with some of the best stories and memories.

So what do you think? Are YOU impulsive when you're on the road? If you aren't sure, I've compiled some signs submitted by other travelers that might suggest that you, too, are an impulsive traveler.

Signs You Might be an Impulsive Traveler:

  • You make last-minute decisions to tackle huge trips.

  • You agree to a trip before even knowing where you're going.

  • You agree to a trip even when invited by a complete stranger.

  • You join up with complete strangers on long-term adventures.

  • You would travel to another country for a blind date.

  • You make huge changes to your plans because somebody asks you to.

  • You make huge changes to your plans just because you feel like it.
  • You have a large collection of maps from places you've never been… just in case.

  • You look up airfares to places you'd someday like to go, just for fun.

  • You book a good airfare deal on a whim. You can figure out details later, right?
  • Your friends and family always assume you're traveling.

  • You never fully unpack, because you could be on the road again at any moment.

  • You always keep your options open.

  • You choose a destination by closing your eyes and spinning a globe.
  • You book a flight/train to one destination, and decide at the airport/station to go somewhere different.
  • You very rarely book anything ahead of time.
  • If you do have a trip plan, you have to throw it out the window by Day 2.
  • You never go into travel with a Plan B. Plan B is what gets made up on the road.
  • You carry more than 3 currencies on you at any given time.
  • You choose a destination and go without knowing a thing about it.
  • Guidebooks schmidebooks.


So, are you an impulsive traveler? Are there any other “signs” that you would add to this list? Leave them in the comments below!


  • Rob says:

    Oh yeah. How about make changes to your travel plans at literally the last second.

    So much of the above applies to me, even if I’m *not* that impulsive a person.

    I laughed at the “never fully unpack” item. I finished doing laundry from Croatia yesterday and have all my “travel-only” clothes already repacked. I could have the house shut down and be out the door in 30 minutes. And my next planned trip isn’t until June!

    And I was checking random flights to places I’ve never been last night.

    And I can’t count the number of times people I haven’t seen for a while greet me with “where did you just come back from?”..

    I’d add:

    Move to another country for a job, because it looks interesting and “what the hell”. I’ve done that twice, living 4 years in Sweden and now 20 years in Boulder, CO. I came to Boulder for a two week business trip in 1991 and didn’t return to Canada for 6 months, and then only to get my car.

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I had a lot of fun putting this list together. I think everyone has at least a little bit of impulsiveness in them!

      I like you addition! Moving anywhere just for the hell of it would definitely be an impulse decision, I think!

  • Ryan Brown says:

    I decided to quit my job at Apple, sell everything I own and move to New Zealand within a month and half even after my brother disowned me for wanting to live abroad (He is the safety bubble kinda guy). I do have a work Visa for New Zealand, but besides 2 nights stay at a hostel provided by BUNAC, I have no plan after that. Impulsive, I think a little! But I like improvising!
    Ryan Brown recently posted..What will your life story be titled?

  • Katrina says:

    Guilty as charged!

    ps: I just realized how right Donna is. My toiletries are indeed packed in a little clear bag on the shelf, ready to go at a moment’s notice. šŸ˜‰
    Katrina recently posted..How the Marine Corps prepared me for travel: Part 1

  • Leslie says:

    Great post! Love seeing the tweets from other travelers about their impulsive trips.
    Leslie recently posted..Top 5 places to celebrate Halloween 2011 in New York City: Haunted houses, a death tour and the Village Halloween Parade

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks, Leslie! I like doing crowd-sourced posts like this. It’s always fun to hear these little bits from other travelers! Others are clearly much more impulsive than me! Haha. (I mean, going to Mexico for a blind date? Crazy!!)

  • Alouise says:

    Fun post, there’s certainly a lot of impulsive travellers. I love to research, but I try to leave room for spontaneity when I get somewhere. Sometimes it doesn’t work out the way you thought, but being impulsive usually leads to pretty great stories.
    Alouise recently posted..Road Trip Memories 15 ā€“ Grain Elevator Photos

    • DangerousBiz says:

      You sound a lot like me, Alouise. I love to research and plan, too. But I always keep in mind that even the best-laid plans will most likely fall apart! I’m not exclusively impulsive, but rather just allow it to creep in sometimes.

  • Runaway Brit says:

    I am totally an impulsive traveller and proud of it. The morning I got paid a bonus I’d been waiting on, I got to work, walked into the office announcing that I was about to book a flight to China and asked if anybody would like to join me (they all said no), logged on to the computer and ten minutes later I had a flight booked. Only then did I contact an ex-housemate whom I hadn’t seen in five years but knew was recently living in China to tell her that I would be visiting her before the end of the month. Very liberating šŸ™‚

    I was also very proud when a friend emailed me saying ‘I’ve just got back from Corfu where I met a guy I really liked, I want to go back this weekend to see him and you are the only friend I know that I can ask to come with me at this short notice and know that you’ll come. Fancy it?’ šŸ™‚
    Runaway Brit recently posted..Why I Love Santiago

    • DangerousBiz says:

      That awesome!! And yes, very impulsive! But, like I said, those impulse decisions and trips often turn out the best memories.

  • jlem1125 says:

    I am an impulsive person! whether it traveling or just about anything that I do. One time I was in Baguio, a place in the Philippines, I went to visit this park just a few blocks away from the hotel I was staying with only a few money. Then a person talked to me and told me about Mines view also in Baguio but far from where I was staying. I just decided right there, that I’ll visit it, so I flag a taxi and half way to my destination I realize I didn’t bring my wallet! I had to just rent the taxi for the whole day!

  • Christine says:

    Booked my weekend and bought tickets to the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand within hours of chatting with my friend about the possibility! I either obsessively plan…or I just book a flight, and figure everything else out afterwards!
    Christine recently posted..Making friends: finding people just like me

    • DangerousBiz says:

      I’m totally like that, too, Christine! My Blog4NZ trip was briefly considered for maybe 24 hours, and then I just bought the plane tickets. At that point, I wasn’t even 100% sure that I could even claim all of my prizes so quickly, but I didn’t care! I just wanted to go to New Zealand! Lol.

  • I’m not that impulsive, but I like to travel with others who are šŸ™‚
    The Travel Chica recently posted..A Foreigner’s Perspective on Argentina Elections

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Well that seems like a good trade-off! I’m sure you at least get a taste of more extreme impulsiveness by traveling with others who are impulsive.

  • I love being impulsive! Without it I would have missed out on so many great opportunities.
    Roy | The Riding Dutchman recently posted..Weekly Photo: Rotterdam Sunline

  • Elizabeth says:

    Haha this post is hilarious! I am becoming an impulsive traveler – I recently booked a flight to Amsterdam with only a few days notice.
    Elizabeth recently posted..Earning Frequent Flyer Miles Without Ever Leaving Home

  • Abby says:

    Gorgeous photo!! I love impulses, both in travel and otherwise. Learning to follow your gut is a very special part of life!

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Thanks, Abby! That photo was taken in Keyston, Colorado. šŸ™‚

      And I agree with you whole-heartedly that following your gut is SO important!

  • Adam says:

    I’ve made plenty of impulsive travel decisions. And often regretted when I didn’t take them.

    Ended up going backwards on my round-the-world trip just to go back to Israel to see a boy! It was expensive and completely out of my plans and out of my way, but was worth it!
    Adam recently posted..Should you visit Israel?

    • DangerousBiz says:

      When it comes to impulses, it’s my opinion that your gut is always right! I try to follow my impulses and instincts as much as possible. Don’t want to have any regrets!

  • I’m not a impulsive traveler. I really need to control and plan ahead for me feel comfortable, at least till the moment I leave home and I’m on the road. Right there my impulsiveness kicks in and I end up doing a lot of crazy stuff I never planed to do.
    Cristian Balau recently posted..How to Make a Potato Salad

    • DangerousBiz says:

      That’s usually how my impulsiveness works when related to travel, too. I’m a planner at heart, but sometimes those impulses just take over once I’m on the road!

  • Suzy says:

    I am certainly more of a plans traveler than an impulsive one. When I booked by ticket to Ireland for my first completely solo trip though I guess I was being impulsive. I saw a super low fare and just booked it, without really thinking about what I just did. Sometimes I think you have to be impulsive to actually travel. If you think about it too much, you might never go.
    Suzy recently posted..Savannah, Georgia Wishes You Were Here

    • DangerousBiz says:

      So very true, Suzy. A little impulse can sometimes get the travel ball rolling. And, for a lot of people, they need that little push to get them out the door!

  • I don’t really feel like an impulsive person, but I guess it depends subjectiveness. It seemed perfectly natural for me to go to Costa Rica for 10 days myself when the opportunity arose, but to someone else it would be completely impulsive.
    Traveling Ted recently posted..Comparing Costa Rica to Thailand for adventure travel

    • DangerousBiz says:

      Yes, I think you’re right – it is a rather subjective thing. I’m sure others would call you impulsive, even if you don’t!

  • Audrey says:

    Hee hee, I think I may qualify as an impulsive traveller under more than one of these headings. I’ve booked deals on the spot because they were too good to pass up and the place sounded interesting. And so far I haven’t been disappointed! šŸ˜€
    Audrey recently posted..Iā€™m Looking for the King of Bollywood

  • I’m definitely an impulsive traveller and I’m afraid it carries over into other spheres of my life as well šŸ˜› Sometimes I even make several major changes to an itinerary all in the same day!
    Nomadic Samuel recently posted..Medellin Living | Colombia | Interview |

  • Steve says:

    Just 2 of many impulsive travels I’ve taken:
    1) Early Sat am in Feb, 2010, I awoke to news reports of the earthquake in Chile and predictions of a possible tsunami in Hawaii. Since I’ve never seen a tsunami, I managed to book a flight leaving Phoenix at 10am for Kona on the Big Island. Flight was delayed taking off from PHX because they didn’t want airliners past the “point of no return” if a tsunami took out the airport in Hawaii, so I missed the tsunami (which turned out to be a non-event anyway). Returning that night, there wasn’t enough fuel for all 5 airliners in Kona to get back to the mainland, so they rationed the fuel to get each airline to Honolulu to fuel up and then proceed to mainland. Total duration of trip: Approximately 23 hours. Time spent in Hawaii: Approximately 8 hours. Time in air: Approximately 15 hours.
    2) In Oct 2010, I decided on a whim on a Saturday morning to take a day-trip to Kauai as it was the only island in HI I’d never been to. Booked a flight, tried to get a rental car (none available, but I’d already booked the flight so I went anyway). Since I didn’t have a car, I hopped on a resort shuttle at the airport. Spent an hour at the resort and then walked to a bar in downtown Lihue. Met a girl there who was fascinated by the fact that I was flying 13 hours round-trip to spend 9 hours on Kauai. Upon hearing that I hadn’t been able to get a rental car, she decided she should give me a tour of the island. We hopped in her SUV and I went on a 6 hour tour with a girl I’d know for 15 minutes, eventually watching the sunset from Haena beach. Then we returned to the bar where we’d met a few hours earlier, had a drink, and she took me back to the airport for my flight back to PHX. Total duration of trip: 22 hours. Time on Kauai: 9 hours. Time in air: 13 hours.

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