By Shari Voigt
You look forward with anticipation as your travel date approaches. This vacation is just what you need! You’ve researched the attractions, booked your flight or serviced your car, reserved your hotel room. Now it’s just days away, but the weather looks iffy, the kids get sick, or your car breaks down, and you start to wonder: is this going to be a dream vacation or an expensive disaster?
Traveling full-time, as we have for two years now, we’ve learned the importance of a contingency plan. Although Plan A sounds marvelous, sometimes Plan B or C becomes necessary and with a little attitude adjustment, it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. You might even enjoy it!
Early in September 2014, we experienced this first-hand. Driving our motor home down a very busy highway in Virginia, we noticed a vibration. Actually, I noticed it when I walked back to use the bathroom. It was way louder than normal in the back of the bus. Something wasn’t right.
We stopped at a nearby rest area and got out to investigate, but could find nothing wrong. Figuring it was probably just the road surface … you know how some roads make a different sound than others, we hopped back on the highway. Thankfully, there was another rest area within a few miles because it quickly became apparent that we had a problem. It turned out to be a big one.
The rear trailing arm is a heavy-duty piece of steel that holds up your rear axle. Ours had cracked, but not broken entirely through as we drove down that busy highway at 65 mph. The idea of what could have happened still gives me chills. Our guardian angels got a workout that day.
And this leads me to our contingency plan. Plan A: We were on our way to Maine to consult with one of our favorite companies, as well as to simply enjoy the area before beginning a leisurely trip south to winter in Florida. But fixing our crippled bus took a week of fundraising, then a week’s wait while 500 pounds of parts were trucked over from Indiana – all while staying at an expensive RV park because it was the only one we could get to with our crippled bus – none of this covered by warranty or insurance.
While we were waiting, Plan B began to look pretty good. The extended stay in Maine that we had planned for simply wasn’t going to work due to all of the added expense and lost time. Plan B was a way for us to recoup expenses as rapidly as possible – and that required lots of miles and hard work in a short period of time. Was it a disappointment? Yes, but we made the most of it, set our minds to enjoy Plan B, and continued to enjoy the journey.
We’ve heard of others who refused to consider contingency plans: Travelers who flew to their planned destination, only to be told they had to turn around because an evacuation order had been issued for an imminent natural disaster; RVers who skipped their destination altogether because their favorite resort was booked solid.
Another more recent Plan B experience for us was parking our bus (and staying in it) for three nights in the McCormick Truck Marshaling Yard so that we could experience downtown Chicago at the same time as our kids and grandkids who were vacationing there. Yes, an actual campground would have been more comfortable, but Plan B saved us dollars that we spent on attractions, taxi fare, and a meal or two out on the town. Plan A wasn’t available and Plan B turned out to be an adventure – a good one, that we’ll always remember.
Go with the flow … it’s a mantra that works for any traveler. Or as we’ve heard others say, “Make your plans in jello, not concrete.” Life happens. What’s your contingency plan?