Do NOT try to work the plan exactly
With the exception of critical stretches such as arrivals, be aware of the old military saying, “No plan survives contact with the enemy.”
As some people say, it doesn’t matter which project planning methodology you use, as long as you use one. In travel as in business and home life, even if you can’t follow the entire plan, you have the benefit of having thought everything through.
We often don’t get to ANY of the restaurants I research.
We rarely get to ALL of the places I list in a city. Some are key, some are more like menu items.
After seeing the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, for example, we assessed our energy level and decided to swap our next stop for one from the following day. Another day, we just dropped our entire afternoon plan and did something else.
And sometimes you’re just unlucky. Rained out. Museum unexpectedly closed. Unplanned transit strike. Twisted ankle.
Law of Divine Intervention
An old German saying:
Alle kunst ist umsunst wenn ein engel auf das zundloch brunzt
All skill is in vain when an angel pees in the touchhole of your musket.
photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash
There is always a chance that one of your major travel legs will not go as planned. One summer we lost three hours when a train track was flooded. A few days later we had an unexpected overnight stay when a storm grounded all flights. Your plane or train might be delayed or re-routed; you might get bumped to a different plane and some passengers won’t get seats.
In Taiwan, my companion had a food reaction, fainted and hit her head. We spent most of the night at the hospital and had to cut back considerably for a couple of days. The plan survived. We missed a couple of things, and rescheduled others.
In your planning, assess the risk of this, and decide how much effort to put into preparing for it.
If the airline asks for volunteers to be bumped from a flight, they often offer pretty good incentives. Are you prepared to change plans and grab that deal?
Do your flight plans have any chance of recovery if you miss a connecting flight?
If you are taking a late-afternoon flight, remember that summer thunderstorms often happen then, and can cause long delays. Winter snowstorms too!
I can recommend doing a little research on hotels near the airport. Just find a few that suit you, make sure they aren’t too far away, and note their phone numbers in case you have to call them. That way when your flight is cancelled you’ll be booking a room while everyone else is trying to look up hotel information.
Hint: If you’re flying out of Newark Airport, definitely do this. Or any airport that doesn’t have convenient travel options such as a subway.
Spare day after
Try to avoid having anything important scheduled for the day after you get home. That way, if you DON’T get home, no big deal. Make sure your cat or dog sitter can do an extra day if necessary, or make a deal with the neighbours.
If you’re leaving Europe, consider asking your last hotel if it could take you back in the unlikely event that your flight can’t go. Or take a few minutes to get the details of a couple of affordable hotels near the airport. That way if your flight is cancelled you’ll be calling the hotels while your fellow passengers are searching for a hotel to call.
TripAdvisor and other websites can show you hotels near a specified location.
There’s an iPad/iPhone app out called Hipmunk. Originally for finding flights, it now includes hotels in North America. It figures out where you are (or you can specify a location), and shows you a map of nearby hotels, tagged by price range. We could have used that when we were stranded in Newark one summer. We finally found a display board with some hotels listed and some decrepit phones that didn’t work very well.
If you’re really thorough, have a plan for the possible failure of your contingency plan!