Second to the requirement of a passport (apply for or renew your passport here), if I have one word that sums up how we view traveling, it’s flexibility. Be flexible with your dates of travel and your destination to save money. Be flexible with your accommodation location to get the amenities you need, or be flexible with the amenities to get the best location. Be flexible with the attractions you want to see because you might not know of unpredicted closings or renovations. Be flexible when issues pop up, and patiently make changes as necessary. The unexpected is part of the experience, so prepare yourself to roll with it.
Let’s cover some ways travel flexibility can help you.
I understand that sometimes you can’t be fully flexible with your travel. If you have a specific event that you’re traveling for, these recommendations won’t necessarily work for you. If you need to be at a particular place on a specific date for an event, then you have to plan for that. Sometimes there are weddings, or birthdays, or business events that require fixed plans, but otherwise, be flexible.
Part of travel flexibility is in your destination choices. Rather than deciding where you want to go and then looking for flights, instead search for airfare first. Check flights to multiple locations and then make your decision based on the best airfare. Have you thought about places you’d like to visit? Think about some experiences you’d like to have.
What are your travel dreams?
Start making your list and I’ll help you get there.
✓ Drinking great beer in a German Biergarten
✓ Eating fresh handmade pasta in Italy
✓ Playing a round of golf in Scotland
✓ Strolling Paris in the Spring
✓ Enjoying a night of tapas through Madrid
✓ Touring vineyards in France
✓ Shopping in Milan
✓ And MUCH MORE!
Start making your list so that when you find great airfare to one of your destinations, you can book your flights without hesitation. Fare sales and deals might only last a few hours, and there are very few seats available at that low price, so you need to decide quickly.
Be flexible with your departure and return dates and look for mid-week flights for the best fares. If getting to Houston, Dallas, or Austin is about the same drive for you, be sure to check departures from each of those different airports. Also, check your destination for different arrival airports. London, for example, has several airports locally. In Europe, you can take advantage of low-cost carriers or train travel to get from one place to another, so don’t lock yourself into only one destination airport – check several.
☛ Click Here to get more in depth tips for finding the best airfare.
Your accommodation choices also require flexibility. Everyone has different requirements and expectations, and which hotel is best for you depends entirely on your travel style and needs. If you’re on a budget and want to stay in the heart of the city center in a historic hotel with character, you might have to decide if having a private bathroom is a must-have amenity (for us, this is non-negotiable). If so, you’ll have trade one of your requirements (increase your budget or change your location) to get the amenities you want. You’ll rarely find a hotel at your perfect price, in your ideal location, with all of your required amenities, so you’ll have to decide what you can be flexible in choosing and what you’re willing to compromise.
Being flexible is most important when things don’t go to plan. Is that museum you have on your list to see closed the day you planned to visit? Flight canceled the day before you were departing? Your hotel not available when you arrive? Accidentally took the wrong train going the wrong direction? (We’ve experienced all of that and more.) The first thing to do when things go wrong is to take a deep breath, don’t panic, and maybe get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. Then think about what you can control, and what you can’t, and if there’s something you can do then decide on your options and plan of action. You can’t control the weather (especially Chicago in the winter) and you sure as hell can’t control the airlines (it’s probably easier to control the weather); you can’t control any number of things, so be mentally prepared to let things roll off. Do what you can, but be patient, be flexible, and know that sometimes you get the best stories and adventures when things don’t go to plan.
For the more experienced traveler, I recommend being flexible with your itinerary and build in unplanned days. Days in the middle of your itinerary with no plan, no hotel, and no idea of where you’ll end up are excellent for creating an adventure on the fly. Having open days in your itinerary is expert-level travel flexibility, and I only recommend this if you’re not traveling in high season and will need one or, at most, two hotel rooms. Internet, smartphones, and apps make this flexible travel much easier to accomplish, and for those that have a bit of travel experience, this can be an excellent way to create a unique travel story.
There are no ‘rules’ of traveling. Everyone has a different idea of what they want to get out of their travel experience. There is no right way or wrong way of travel, but our most essential travel advice is to be flexible and adaptable.