Happy New Year, and welcome to 2019! As you start thinking about your goals and plans for 2019, let's continue looking at more travel resolutions to make for the new year. Last we talked about how important travel can to making great memories and connections with the people you care about. Today's resolution is an important lesson I've learned (and am still learning) about travel, and it's a lesson that's important to life overall.
Resolution #2: Plan but Be Flexible
As a travel consultant, it makes sense that I would advocate for planning - it's what I do, after all - and I always recommend planning ahead for the best chance at creating an adventure with the destination, hotel, activities, and other options you're dreaming of. But, travel does not always go according to plan. Sometimes things change or get cancelled, or timing shifts around, or something else doesn't go like you thought it would. One of the things I'm still learning in my own travels is how to be flexible and let go of the plan when it's not working like I thought it would. While having a plan great for getting the basics of your adventure set up, it's important to also be in the moment while traveling. If you're too obsessed with keeping to the plan, it can mean that you miss some amazing moments in the meantime.
Years ago at Walt Disney World, we went on the Jungle Cruise which, if you're not familiar, is a boat ride with a skipper humorously pointing out the animals and landscape as you navigate the exotic rivers of the world. In the back of our boat was a woman intently studying a map of the park. At several points, the skipper poked gentle fun at the woman poring over the map, but she never seemed to notice. As far as I could tell, she never looked up during the entire ride. While I suppose it's possible she disliked the Jungle Cruise, it seemed like she spent the ride planning out the next steps of her family's day - so much so that she never saw any of the ride they were on at the time.
I'm quite certain that I have, on more than one occasion, also been this woman. I am very much a planner. I like to know when things are going to happen, and in what order, and I often get stressed or frustrated when things don't happen the way I thought they were going to happen. I have often fallen victim to the trap of being so concerned with the next step in a plan, that I don't take time to enjoy any of what I planned. As I've traveled more and had more experiences, though, I've realized that I'm much less stressed, and much happier, when I let go of things needing to be a certain way. I get to slow down a little and enjoy where I am, instead of constantly thinking about where I'm going. I still plan in advance, because there are still a lot of advantages to doing so, but during the actual trip I try to stay in the moment and be open to changes.
In fact, being open to some changes can often have big benefits. My parents went to Walt Disney World for their anniversary several years ago, and one day as they were waiting for the Magic Kingdom to open, a Cast Member came up to them and asked if they would be able to stay for a moment after the park opened so he could ask them a question. If you haven't been, Walt Disney World is a pretty planning-heavy destination, and my mom wasn't sure if they should stray from their plan. But, they accepted the offer, and it turned out that the Cast Member was looking for guests to be the Grand Marshals of the parade that day, which they wouldn't have been able to do if they stuck to the plan. They still got to do everything else they wanted to do that day, and now also have unique memories of an incredibly special day at the Magic Kingdom.
While I always highly recommend planning, it's always best to not be too rigid about the plan. Things sometimes change and, like life, it's best to be adaptable if things don't turn out quite the way you thought - because sometimes, the unexpected and spontaneous things about travel end up being the most memorable.