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I saw this green sign at the end of the road. There were names that made my hands tingle; behind that piece of sheet metal was the promise of landscapes which seemed more exciting than the strip of asphalt under my four wheels. After driving under grey clouds for miles, a brighter sun seemed to shine behind the towns listed on that highway sign. I wondered what I was doing there. A few hours later, I had swapped New Orleans for Birmingham. Used to living life at a thousand miles an hour, I had a furious desire for what makes travel essential: the unexpected. Changing your mind like changing your shirt, planning not to plan anything, making improvisation your guiding light… What if that was the secret?

take a left

The idea that tomorrow, or even the next hour, won’t unfold according to plan splits people into two categories of travellers: the first group is petrified by the idea of not knowing in advance where they will sleep that night, while the others are galvanized at being able to put on their adventurer’s hat. It was on this road, which took me to Alabama many moons ago, that my traveller’s instinct was transformed. Suddenly, I no longer had a plan. Looking to my right, I could see my wife’s smile, which was sparkling at the idea of crossing through Montgomery and all the history of the old South as the Alabama pines passed by. She was the one who didn’t want to book a hotel; she was the one who was eager to make me slow down to live better. And she was right. As the GPS repeated “turn right” in its monotonous, disembodied voice, I saw myself tuning it out, a weight lifted from my shoulders as I turned the steering wheel to the left. What did the miles, the detours, and the unforeseen events matter? This new state of mind, this disorganized journey started from a simple observation: the best moments, the ones that stay with you forever, are often the ones you didn’t plan.

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Orange Beach, Alabama, United States

Photo: © Steven Van Elk

stay open

I had thought about my trip, considered the steps before- hand, all scheduled almost to the day from Florida to Louisiana, without the slightest “margin of error.” One thing is certain: I had preferred to keep driving, stopping at the last moment at this hotel that I had been eyeing for months, on a whim. Because we were in less touristy areas, because it was the off season, everything conspired to give rise to this feeling of impunity for the traveller. It was total freedom, and one of the best trips of my life. This revelation, this way of experiencing travel could suddenly also be applied on a smaller scale—to a trip in Quebec, for example. If we get tired of the city, if we prefer to reach the sea earlier than expected, or rather head inland because the weather forecast is bad, spontaneity can grant all wishes. Embracing the unexpected, even if that meant causing it, had become my new focal point on that Alabama road.

84000026 - The Art of Spontaneity

Improvisation allows you to discover charming hotels.

Photo: © Bianca Des Jardins

the spirit of improvisation

This agility was built over the course of trips and travel companions, like a new spirit that infused each of my projects. I wanted to react according to the situation and my desires. I wanted to follow my emotions. I recently expe- rienced this feeling in Malaysia, which has transformed into “traveller’s blues” that won’t go away since my return. Left with the desire to remove the parking brake from my daily life, a pressing desire for freedom, I wanted to join my best friend, who had also left to follow his emotions to the confines of Asia. Around a sweetened coffee at a kopitiam in the Chinese district of Kuala Lumpur, without even talking to each other, we felt this current of timelessness passing through that moment. “You know what Margot said to me before I left?” he asked me. I was intrigued by what advice our colleague had given him. “What did she say?” “She told me: say yes to everything!” From these very first hours, that was the recurring theme of this trip. Suddenly, I was renting a car, breaking down my mental constraints about the difficulty of the roads where they drive on the left in Malaysia. Simple morning coffees stretched into half-days, new roads led to villages, encoun- ters, unexpected moments. Improvisation had set us free.

Applied to other fields, the gift of improvisation has long been rec- ognized for its ability to draw new ideas from original situations. “The spirit of improvisation is a challenge to the creative sense,” as Charlie Chaplin once said. In its most intense form, improvisation applied to travel would therefore amount to willingly missing your connection, getting off the train before the terminus, or boarding the ferry from the neighbouring dock, just to see what awaits you. One of the most powerful adrenaline rushes.


Deciding on the course of your trip in real time, changing your itinerary the same day, shortening one stage by extending another, chang- ing course or even country: Voyageurs du Monde invites you to explore a new way of travelling. In direct and permanent contact with your advisor and the local concierge service, you invent your trip accord- ing to your desires, your mood, and what you feel at that moment.

Attracted by the idea of heading off without a schedule, or still undecided? Talk to your advisor: together, you will determine the starting point and the broad outlines of your trip, the type of accommodation you are considering, and your budget. Your plane (or train) ticket and the first night on site are booked. You set off with the essential contacts (those of your privileged advisor and your concierge at the destination) and a WiFi router or an eSIM card, then all you have to do is follow your emotions and improvise.