Sid KaplanWhen you’re travelling, you have to be ready to be a flexible traveller, 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.

The world is changing quickly all the time and the same holds true from travelling. In fact, it’s changed a lot since we started travelling. The world and your travel plans can even change WHILE you’re travelling.

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 so it pays to be a flexible traveller. You have to be prepared for changes.

Here’s our most extreme example: A few hours after our arrival in Nairobi, Kenya on September 11, 2001 things became totally different in the world of travel.

While even in this most extreme of circumstances our safari went off as planned, we couldn’t go home right away even if we wanted to. But the biggest change occurred during the security check for the flight home: 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 once 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 because of the late hour we finally arrived. We simply 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.

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 had 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 traveller?

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.

We feel that each trip is an adventure so be a flexible traveller. You might get more than you bargained for. Enjoy it!

© Travel Like This


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