Destination X: On Mistakes (By Us), A Strange Man, and An Exceptional Vacation
I booked a trip with Anywhr because I wanted to go on a holiday but didn’t know where I wanted to go. Sometimes you just want to get away, you know? I didn’t have the time or mental energy to even think about where to go, let alone do the planning and booking the flight/accommodation. And to be honest, I fell in love with Anywhr’s concept the first time I read about it.
I booked a five-day, four-night “Getaway” trip. I should probably answer some FAQs I got every time I told friends about my trip: Anywhr charges a flat rate based on the number of days and nights you book, they tell you the temperature and weather at your destination so you know what to pack, they give you enough currency in your envelope to get you to a local money-changer, and I highly doubt they have the budget (or political connections) to send you to North Korea. (But if they did, wouldn’t that be a holiday to remember? ☺ )
*Check out how Anywhr Trips work here!
Anywhr sends you an envelope with your destination and suggested itinerary one week before your departure date. As recommended on their website, I didn’t open it until I got to the airport. To be honest I was a little disappointed, because the destination was nearby and I’d been hoping for somewhere a little more exotic. But considering that I’m now writing a review for the Anywhr website, you can guess it turned out to be a vacation to remember.
The first thing that blew me away was my accommodation. I booked the “Regular” package (there are also “Budget” and “Luxury” options), and I was expecting a private hostel room or maybe an AirBNB. What I got came straight out of a fairy tale!
Whatever disappointment I felt at the closeness of my destination was eclipsed by the wonder of having my very own treehouse for the next four nights.
Jumping ahead of myself a bit, maybe I should address the issue of whether Anywhr is “value for money”. At the time I booked, a 5-day 4-night stay was $800, which I thought was very reasonable. The destination was closer than I expected, but the accommodation was also better than I expected, so they balance out. I realise what I appreciate most about Anywhr is that they challenge the Singaporean mindset that a holiday has to be “value for money”. Eg was I initially disappointed with my destination because I didn’t want to go to the place, or because I thought I wasn’t getting “value for money”? Definitely the latter. And traveling with Anywhr has made me realise how much more enjoyable holidays can be when I throw my preconceptions of what holidays “should” be out the window.
For example, that holidays “should” be about seeing or doing things you can’t see or do in Singapore. One of the highlights of my holiday was actually something extremely mundane: a dog that came and fell asleep next to my feet when I was having breakfast at my accommodation on the first morning.
Isn’t she cute? I like animals, but I don’t have pets. It’s quite an experience to have a random dog come up to you and fall asleep at your feet! I had to become quite the acrobat to get up from my chair without stepping on her.
Back to the topic of what holidays “should” be like, how about the expectation that nothing “should” go wrong on holidays? Imagine that you’ve extensively researched your trip and you arrive at your destination only to realise that TripAdvisor was wrong, or the website you used was outdated. Now what? You have a hole in your itinerary and your holiday is ruined. Now, I’m NOT going to say “That’s why you should let Anywhr plan your trip for you!” Because the team makes mistakes too – but the difference is, it was their very mistake that ended up changing the course of my holiday for the better.
When I reached my accommodation, I found that minibuses had to be chartered and the nearest bicycle-rental point was 4km away, therefore I was unable to utilise those modes of transport stated in my Travelogue. I am not brave enough to ride a motorbike with no prior riding experience, in a foreign country where I am alone. So I had to walk.
And that was how I made a friend. When I was walking, a local man on a motorbike called out to me and asked if I wanted a ride. That was a decision I had difficulty explaining to my family on Whatsapp that night – how I was “sensible” enough not to try riding a motorbike for the first time, and right after that “silly” enough to accept a ride from a strange man.
Meeting that man, Arta, literally and figuratively changed the course of my vacation. He brought me to places I wouldn’t have been able to reach on foot, introduced me to new spots and restaurants to try, and even invited me to go snorkeling with his company! (He works as a diver in the day, and was off-duty when I met him on his motorbike.) I took him up on his offer of snorkeling, although I might not have gone snorkeling if not for him, because the snorkeling tours looked quite touristy and were not part of Anywhr’s suggested activities in the Travelogue. But I’m incredibly glad I did, because I saw a manta ray! I ended up going twice on consecutive mornings and one of my dive-mates remarked that the snorkeling was “almost as good as Hawaii’s”.
*Related Post: 4 Ways A Solo Trip Could Change Your Life
I should probably wrap up because this review just entered its 6th page on Microsoft Word. In case you couldn’t tell, I loved my trip with Anywhr. It showed me how to love a trip that did not fit my usual expectations for a holiday. Would my trip have been more “value for money” if I had booked the flight and accommodation myself? Possibly, but that’s not a fair comparison because I didn’t know this place existed, and might not have found the magical treehouse accommodation if I’d searched for lodging myself. (Maybe instead of searching for the “best” value for money, we should look for “good enough” value for money – if you think Anywhr’s prices are good enough, go for it.)
Would the trip have been better-planned if I’d done the planning myself? If you think about it, if a conventional travel provider had brought a guest to a destination with no safe mode of transportation except for walking, that could be a deal-breaker. But for me, it became a doorway to a new friend and an exceptional vacation. Spontaneity is something most Singaporeans don’t value – maybe it’s time to change that.
If you want to travel but don’t want to plan, or you’re tired of the pressure to find the best deals or check off the most landmarks – or you just want to transcend your own expectations about it means to travel – then go Anywhr! I hope you have as great a time as I did.