Change of Plans – When Family Travel Takes a Turn

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As travelers (and parents) we go to great lengths to plan ahead for our family vacation. It is very important when traveling with kids to plan transportation, meals, fun activities, and maybe most crucial… sleep! I’m not actually sure who it’s more important to though, parents or kids? Having a plan gives me a sense of control. I feel like I’m better able to handle any anxiety that goes with traveling to a new place, if I at least have a plan. Big News Flash: Travel Plans Might Change!

Flights get canceled. Planes get diverted to other airports. Hotels sometimes get overbooked. Restaurants might be expectantly closed (especially on Islands). Luggage might be lost or swimsuits forgotten. And don’t forget the weather. It will not always be in your favor. The one thing you have complete control over is how you will respond when plans change.

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Flights Get Canceled

Here are three steps for handling “change of plans” while traveling.


1) Decide ahead of time how you will handle unexpected changes personally and even as a family.

A few years back I packed our family up for a two week adventure to Roatan, Honduras. The kids were two and four years old and SO excited for this trip. You can imagine the packing list. Diapers, wipes, snacks, more snacks, more diapers, sand toys, etc. We even had clothes, shoes, and books backed for a local Children’s Home. Our 6:00AM flight was booked, condo on the island rented (and paid for), transportation arranged, diving scheduled, everything was set to go. I was ultra-prepared. We put the kids to bed early the night before and arrived at the airport fresh and eager, two hours before our international flight at 4:00AM. We stepped up to the counter and handed over our passports only to be told we would not be boarding the plane. My husband’s passport was set to expire within 6 months. No international travel if your passport is expiring within 6 months. We stood with our mouths open for a few minutes before trying to convince the lady to just let us on the plane. The kids were crying. Heck, I was crying thinking of going back home to unpack the bags. It was a huge curve ball, but we all learned a valuable lesson. Plans change. It’s just a part of travel. I made a decision that day that going forward I would handle unexpected “change in plans” with a deep breath and respond, “okay.”

I would handle unexpected “change in plans” with a deep breath and respond, “okay.” Click To Tweet

2) Discuss the new options. (Be open minded as possible!)

It’s easy in the moment to put all your energy into forcing Plan A to work. It’s kind of our nature to demand our way immediately. But there is freedom in holding your plans with an open palm. My husband and I have learned to look at each other (after the deep breath and “okay” of step one), and start laying out the new options. We even involve our children in this. Teaching kids that things will often times not go the way we planned is a gift. It’s a bonus lesson in travel that will help them in every aspect of life.

Once we were done crying over our change of plans, we literally sat down on our big bags right in the middle of the airport and started brainstorming ideas. Everyone in the family participated. Instead of devastation we started to feel optimistic and hopeful. We humbly asked the airline to change our tickets and they did. We called the owner of the condo we had rented and asked to postpone one week. And we found a one day passport renewal office.


3) Look at the bright side of Plan B.

Bring Learn Grow is all about giving the gift of travel to kids. The education, the culture, the compassion they can gain is priceless. Seeing the bright side of Plan B is a skill we all need. Life is full of Plan B’s. What an amazing learning tool for kids to think, “Look at mommy, not having a tantrum, but just taking a deep breath, thinking through our options, and making Plan B.” Lead by example, right? We all know that feeling of looking back and realizing the change of plans worked out for the best. While traveling in Europe we missed a train to the coast we really wanted to be on. I saw the disappointment in my kid’s eyes as we stood on the platform watching the train pull away. Europe Train, Family travel, family Europe vacationWe walked over to a table in a café and sat down and I saw my kids start brainstorming new options. Together we decided on Plan B. We found a later train going to the same location.  We had to wait a bit, but we agreed it was worth it.  It was an awesome feeling to watch the whole family successfully go through the three steps and handle the “change of plans” beautifully!




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