When you’re traveling, you have to be ready to be a flexible traveler… even when you’ve got your itinerary planned down to the last minute. There are just times when it doesn’t work out the way you planned.
You know it… the world is changing quickly all the time. With the internet and 24 hour news, travel is changing. It’s changed a lot since we started traveling. The world and your travel plans can even change WHILE you’re traveling.
The point is, while you may have things planned out, you have to at least be aware that you might have to change your plans… be a flexible traveler. You have to be prepared for changes.
Here’s our most extreme example…. We had just arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on September 11, 2001. A few hours after our arrival…. suddenly…. things were totally different in the world of travel….
In this most extreme of circumstances, our safari went off as planned. We couldn’t go home right away even if we wanted to, so we went forward. The biggest change then was the security on the flight home, and that we had to check EVERYTHING. Our airline gave us a plastic bag for our passports, pills, and glasses.
In less extreme examples, your tour operator could change hotels, or your cruise ship could change ports of call. One time we didn’t stop at a Caribbean port because of political unrest.
Ships may be delayed or rerouted because of weather. On a cruise around Antarctica, we had to skip one stop because the pack ice was way too thick.
Weather can certainly cause changes. We were visiting Gombe National Park in Tanzania to see chimps. We had to leave the park the night before our flight from Kigoma rather than the morning of the flight because of a storm brewing on Lake Tanganyika. We still saw all the chimps, but back in Kigoma, we had time for a drive to the little town of Ujiji where Stanley met Livingstone…. you know, as in “Dr Livingstone I presume?” That change was a bonus.
Flights can be delayed due to weather. This applies in the middle of your trip as well as the beginning and end. We were going into the jungle in Peru, but weather delayed our flight to Puerto Maldonado. We had to overnight in that frontier town. The river wasn’t safe to navigate as late as we got in…. then we extended our trip for a day so we had our full time in the jungle.
Even with a group booking you might not be safe. We got left behind on a flight to Tibet because a Chinese delegation took our seats. The plane wasn’t overbooked, at least not until the government stepped in! So our tour operator gave us two more days seeing Nepal, and we got a private tour of Tibet instead of a small group tour…. We were more flexible and saw it all anyway.
Then there was the time the train derailed on the Altiplano in Peru on the way to Lake Titicaca! We got there much later at night than we planned, so we had to take a boat to the Floating Villages very early the next morning to fit it all in. We were the only ones there…. another bonus!
Do you have time to be a flexible traveler?
Most of the time, things will go just as you or your tour operator plan…. but weather, delayed flights, life, and world events can sometimes throw little “monkey wrenches” into the works…. Hurricanes happen. Roads wash out.
We feel that each trip is an adventure… be a flexible traveler… you might get more than you bargained for… enjoy it!
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