Flexibility: How to Bounce Back
If there is one thing I have learned over the course of all my travels it's how important it is to be flexible, and I mean as flexible as Elastigirl from the Incredibles.
Plans go awry, flights are delayed or canceled, weather doesn't cooperate. The opportunities for things to go wrong are endless. No matter how prepared you are, you can't control everything. But that doesn't mean that it has to completely ruin your trip.
I'm sure you've heard this a million times, but what does it actually mean to be flexible when it comes to Travel? Here are my top 5 tips for being flexible and preparing yourself for all the things that can go wrong when you travel:
Try not to schedule activities for right after you land. - It's easy to think if you're landing early in the morning you'll have the whole day to do fun stuff, but try to include some buffer time. Flights are delayed or canceled all the time, especially in this crazy post covid world. Make sure you also include time to get through customs, pick up bags, and get to your hotel! And if it was a particularly long journey don't be afraid to throw in a little nap (but not too long of a nap) to help get you through the day.
Schedule in free time - yes you read that right. I like to plan my vacations down to the minute, so I will literally schedule in free/relaxation time. Which can then be used to do something I missed due to elements out of my control or for new opportunities that I discovered when I got to my destination. There are also lots of cities, particularly in Europe, that are fun to just get lost in. So I will schedule in time to just walk around and explore different neighborhoods, I'm looking at you Germany.
Know your absolutely cannot miss items ahead of time - You know those big bucket list items? Like the Colosseum in Rome, Big Ben in London, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona - those things that you will absolutely kick yourself for if you miss it. Take some time to do a little research and see what your must see items for the trip is ahead of time. This is super helpful for if you have to rearrange your schedule mid trip. Chances are, there are going to be some things you'll be ok to miss and somethings you will be UPSET to miss. For example, maybe you're in Paris and the day you were supposed to go up the Eiffel Tower it rained, and I mean torrential downpour, absolutely no visibility. So instead you stayed inside all day; maybe found a cute cafe or bar to wait out the rain. But now you're going to need to bump something later in the trip so you can fit the Eiffel Tower back in. Currently, you have plans to go shipping at the Champ Elysees, but you're not super into shopping so you decided to replace that with Eiffel Tower. Sure it sucks you didn't get to go to the Champ Elysees, but at least this way you don't leave Paris upset that you either a) didn't go to the Eiffel Tower or b) went and couldn't see anything.
4. Be open to unplanned experiences - Sometimes new opportunities for adventures pop up while you're already there - don't be afraid to toss the calendar out the window and see where adventure takes you! One of my favorite examples is while in Casablanca, my friend and I had dinner reservations at Rick's Cafe. You know the one: "of all the gin joints, in all the towns, of all the world. She walks into mine" - Casablanca. Let me tell you, it was not easy to get an reservation there. But we arrive at our airbnb and our host invites us to a Ramadan celebration on the beach, and how could we pass that up? So we both agreed to ditch Rick's, and it was the best decision ever. It was beyond incredible to get a glimpse into this beautiful culture and learn more about the Muslim faith from our host and all of his friends and family. One day we'll get to Rick's Cafe, but I wouldn't change our experience for the world.
5. Sometimes laughter is the best medicine - It can be extremely frustrating when things go wrong, so it can be helpful to reframe your thoughts and think about this as a soon to be funny story. I can't even begin to count the number of flight delays/cancelations, missed tours, missed trains etc. I've had to deal with. It's just a part of travel. Sh*t happens. In 2021 my friend and I road tripped through the Balkans (highly recommend, it was an incredible trip). After spending a couple of days in Belgrade, Serbia where we flew into, we picked up our rental car to drive to Sarajevo, Bosnia. We wanted to be in Sarajevo by 10am for a free walking tour of the city, so we left super early in the morning to allow time for border control, traffic etc. But it ended up still not being early enough. Shortly after crossing into Bosnia we got stuck. I mean, STUCK.
We're putting the car in neutral to try and push it out of the mud. It's a mess. A very muddy mess. Eventually we're able to get the car turned around and we go back the way we came and and had to take another, much longer, route. All in all this whole debacle ended up adding almost 2 hours to our drive. Needless to say, we missed most of the tour. We called to let them know what happened and they were super kind and let us meet up with them for the last little bit. So it definitely didn't go the way we planned, and it was pretty dang stressful, but now we've got a funny story to tell at parties. And hey, we made it eventually. Alls well that ends well right?
All this to say: don't let the negatives overpower your whole trip. There are so many things outside of our control, if you can go into your trip knowing and understanding that, I promise you'll not only be able to bounce back better, but you'll have a lot better time as it's happening. Sometimes you just gotta let go and let God.