Two Saturdays ago, I’m standing along the first base wall at Great American Ballpark watching my daughter get an autograph from Cincinnati Reds third baseman Todd Frazier. It’s the first day of our family’s 8-day vacation that will take us to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, OH, on to Niagara Falls, NY and back through the Smokey Mountains as we return home.
The weather is warm and sunny and the look of excitement on my daughter’s face as she gets the autograph makes me realize why I love vacations. What a memory she will have of that moment. I can’t think of a better way to get our vacation started.
I strike up a conversation with a couple standing next to us who were visiting from Columbus, OH. I’m interested in asking them how long the drive is from Cincinnati to Columbus because we intended to drive there after the game and spend the night on our way to Cedar Point. What they said next shattered my “this-vacation-is-starting-out-so-well” feeling.
According to a news report, Cedar Point had a major water main break. The park was closed Saturday and would be Sunday and possibly Monday. “Nooooooo!” I screamed on the inside. “Those are the exact days we plan to be there!”
The kids were going to have so much fun and now would be incredibly disappointed. Perhaps the couple misheard the report and it’s not as bad as they let on. I tried to console myself with this notion.
During the 6th inning my wife received an email from Cedar Point stating that it was indeed as bad as we had heard. Our reservations to stay at the park had been cancelled. Our plans foiled.
What would we do now?
Well, we learned the importance of being flexible.
Being Flexible Can Make or Break A Vacation
I love for things to work according to a predetermined plan…for there to be steps to follow…for point A to connect to point B and then C. When plans get blown up it’s easy for me to get frustrated. Does anyone else out there live in that boat?
What I’m learning more each day is that being flexible is the key to tamping down levels of frustration when dealing with situations that don’t go according to plan. It would have been easy to become really agitated over this inconvenience. But what would my anger over a situation I couldn’t control produce? Probably nothing more than hurt feelings and more frustration, which would have led us to make a poor decision about what to do next.
After some careful deliberation during the rest of the game, we decided on a course of action. To adjust our plan would require some phone calls, a bit more travel and some water-main-repair luck. Our new steps were as follows:
1. We called Cedar Point to confirm our cancellation notice and receive our money back.
2. Next we called our hotel in Niagara Falls and to see if they had availability should we arrive early. They did, so we decided to travel there first.
3. Once the afternoon game concluded in Cincinnati, we drove to Cleveland instead of Sandusky to spend the night, rolling into our hotel about 12:30 am.
4. The next morning, we drove from Cleveland to Niagara Falls and spent the better part of two days there instead of the one we had originally planned.
5. While in Niagara Falls, we monitored the situation at Cedar Point. We learned the repairs had been completed and the park would be open by Monday.
6. Upon hearing that news, we called Cedar Point to reserve a two-night stay at the park and tickets for one day.
7. We left Niagara Falls late afternoon on Monday and arrived at Cedar Point late Monday night. We had a blast at the amusement park on Tuesday and left for the Smokey Mountains Wednesday morning.
In essence, we ended up doing the first part of our trip backwards. It did cost us a bit more driving time and money for gas, an increase in expenses at Cedar Point (the original plan was a one night stay at the park) and our planned day at Cedar Point’s water park. This wasn’t a big loss though. Adjusting our plans in this way was worth it for the family to enjoy most of the activities we had originally desired to do.
So on your next vacation, if things don’t go exactly as planned, try being flexible. Don’t get so worked up over the inconveniences that you create bad memories for your family. Instead go with the flow. Like those that faced us, a great many circumstances remain out of our control and it’s up to us to adapt and make the best of it.
Questions: What’s your vacation nightmare story? How do you adapt to a change in vacation plans? Are you the vacation planner type or do you like to wing it and see what attracts you along the way? Do you have trouble being flexible?
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