When the Plan Changes

It’s no secret that I like a plan. I’m very type-A when it comes to stuff like this. I went to school for engineering. My mind works in logical steps and I like to follow an order. I like to know what’s coming next.

This doesn’t always work well for traveling, especially with little ones. Luckily my spouse is pretty perfect for me because he’s not this way. He’s a go with the flow, let’s tackle each problem as it comes at us sort of guy. In his words, he focuses on the “closest alligator to the boat” whereas I’m up on higher ground, trying to position us to avoid the alligators in the first place. We make a good pair.

So what if the plan changes? There’s plenty of reasons for the plan to change, from the stressful situations like car trouble or injury/illness, to just the simple reasons of misreading a public transportation schedule or your kids’ moods not cooperating with the activities for the day. I’m choosing to focus on the smaller issues, because those happen most often and I believe the same principles can be applied to the larger issues if needed.


Accept that plans can change.


Much like admitting you have a problem before you can get help, admitting to yourself that it’s ok for plans to change is the first step. This might seem a bit silly, but for type-A personalities like me, this is hard to do. Changing the plan doesn’t make me a vacation-planning failure. Once Know and accept that just  because you said you were going to take a boat ride today doesn’t mean that it has to happen. Its ok to decide, for whatever reason, that today that boat ride just isn’t going to happen. Or a museum. Or whatever the plan for that day is.

I used the boat ride as an example because this happened to us in Lecco when we were visiting Lake Como. We were on vacation with my brother, his wife, and my niece, and I was the vacation planner so I felt a bit of (self induced) pressure to make things perfect.  We told the kids we were going on a boat ride, because the initial plan was to take a boat from Lecco to Bellagio. Well, I misunderstood the schedule and thought the boat operated on weekends, when really it only operated on Sundays that time of year. So we sat near the dock for a while, on a Saturday, waiting for this boat to show up and it never did. We finally asked nearby and sure enough, it wasn’t coming today. However, we kept our moods light and assured the three disappointed tots that we’d find another boat later but right now we were going to do something else. And it was ok. It really was.


The new plan might be better than the first.


You know the saying “hindsight is 20/20?”. It’s totally true when you’re mixing up the plan on vacation. After we realized the boat wasn’t coming, we made a quick decision to grab the van and head up to Varenna, a beautiful town up the coast about 30 minutes that my brother had read about in his Rick Steves guide to the area. We ended up absolutely loving this little town and I can’t imagine having missed it if we would’ve done that boat ride. All seven of us had a blast and we never once wished we would’ve gotten on that boat earlier.


Sometimes no plan is ok too.


No plan? Gasp! But how can we see everything on vacation without a plan? Well, you won’t and that’s ok, because the point of vacation is to have fun, not see everything there is to see. Let’s continue on our vacation to Lake Como, shall we? The next day we decided we didn’t want the kids on a 3 hour round trip boat tour (that one we tried to get on the day before!) and chose to drive to Bellagio. This was the wrong choice, because we couldn’t find any parking after circling the city 3 times. This is where the no plan comes in. We were getting hungry so decided to turn back and try to find lunch at one of the little towns we passed along the road. However, my youngest daughter got car sick which made us have a pit stop to clean up, and after that we were all just done. Luck had it that we found a great parking spot along the lake, right across from a great little restaurant with plenty of room for a group of 7. We ate a wonderful and relaxing lunch, and since now we were completely plan-less, decided to just buy some bottles of prosecco from the restaurant and bring them to the rocky beach across the street. This is where we sat for the afternoon, letting the kids find rocks and throw them in the water, and we just relaxed and enjoyed the amazing views. We had no plan, and none of us felt like we missed out on anything. It was actually pretty perfect. Sitting on that rocky beach watching our kids squeal as their toes dipped into the cold mountain lake water, I didn’t want to be doing anything else.


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Embrace spontaneity


Our last night in Lecco brought us back down to the lakeshore in the attempt to find a boat ride, at last. We arrived about 10 minutes before a 45 minute boat tour was leaving. We didn’t know much about it other than we needed to get tickets asap if we wanted to go. We also saw that they had a small “dragon boat” (yes, a pontoon decked out to look like a dragon!) that gave 15 minute rides all evening long. Would the kids be too cranky for the longer boat ride? What if the tour was terrible? I didn’t do any research other than knowing that tours existed. Would it be kid friendly? I had no clue but we decided we could do anything for 45 minutes and off we went. The kids had a blast and only got antsy the last few minutes (reinforcing the decision to NOT do the 3 hour boat tour was a good one!). We finally got our boat ride and it was worth the wait.

This trip to Lake Como didn’t go as planned at all. Except it also kind of did. The main plan was to have a great time. To be together as a family and to explore a new place. We definitely did all of that, and had a great little trip with our little ones!