Life Lessons From The Road – A Little Bit Of Planning Goes A Loooong Way!!

Travel essentials - Vegemite and Tim Tams!

Our travel time is drawing to a close on this trip.  Yep, it makes my physically sick, but we are in the middle of making plans to return to Australia!

It’s not really progressing past flights home which has led us to reflect on just how crap we are at planning!!

We usually sniff around the internet, book a flight that looks cool (and cheap) and then worry about the details later.  This lack of planning has meant we have missed cool stuff by a day or so and arrived in new countries unaware that big events are taking place.  Having said that, our lack of planning also is the reason we could spend a month in Denmark, a month in Egypt, enjoy Thaipusam in Malaysia and meet so many other travelling families!

For your reading pleasure here’s the list of stuff we’ve buggered up by a lack of travel planning:

  • We arrived in Kuala Lumpur at Chinese New Year.  I actually thought I had researched.  I didn’t realise it meant the entire country of Malaysia was on the road going home to their families!  We don’t really experience this in Australia to this same extent so we were unprepared!!!  Lucky our host, Hassan, was so accommodating of us!

Chinese New Year Decorations

  • We missed the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.  I’ve missed this twice in my life now!  I actually thought I researched this!  I knew they did it every day in summer and every other day when it’s not summer.  So we rocked up to see it only to discover it was the off day!  I should have researched the season – I thought it was summer in London, turns out it was autumn!!  Oops!!
Mr Potato Head Photo Bomb Buckingham Palace

This guy saw more than we did!

  • We missed seeing Old Faithful erupt when we were at Yellowstone National Park.  We didn’t think to check the weather forecast.  We arrived in shorts and T-shirts in bright sunshine.  We high-tailed it out of there 24 hours later in jeans, boots, socks, jumpers, coats and beanies as building snow threatened to close the road!!!  We heard her erupt but we couldn’t see her through the blizzard!

Yellowstone Weather!   Life Lessons From The Road!

  • We booked very cheap flights Cairo-Kuwait-Sri Lanka right in the middle of the annual Feast celebration.  Over a million sheep are slaughtered at this time and in many places work stops and cities shut down.  We even heard a few tales of flights being cancelled!!  What this meant for us was no outing in Kuwait and a very low-key 4 days in Sri Lanka.  Except for the constant rain and the kids room flooding at 1am of course!!
  • We missed seeing monkeys in Singapore.  We didn’t research it and decided to go there on a whim.  Trusted the bus driver to steer us right….he didn’t!  We ended up riding the train for hours, walking in the rain and not finding any damn monkeys!!  Lucky we’ve seen them in several other countries!
  • We almost missed the closing ceremony of the olympics while we were in London!  We wandered on vague instructions to find the big screen – surely it would be obvious huh?  Nope!  Luckily as we were wandering home in the dark through Kensington Gardens (which were now closed) we stumbled across a giant Russian tent that was promoting the winter olympics!  After checking our bags for Vodka (!) they let us in to watch the ceremony with hundreds of cheering Russians!!  That was actually kinda cool!  And we were lucky not to miss the Spice Girls!!  hahaha…
  • Our $11 jar of Vegemite was confiscated at the Berlin Airport.  Kate left it in her carry-on luggage not realising it would be counted as a gel.  The security woman laughed hysterically as we crowded around the bin where it had been thrown and wailed pathetically “not the Vegemite!!”
  • Gert and Jono had to skip LegoLand in Denmark.  It was planned for years but no-one thought to check how far it was from where we would be.  Over 2 hours each way was quickly vetoed by all parties!!
  • We missed whole states that we wanted to visit in the US.  No Washington and no Alaska!!  We failed to estimate just how much we would spend there and how much fuel we would go through as we backtracked several times!  It was worth it to visit the people we did though – no regrets there!

So the moral is even if you don’t plan everything will still be fine.  We may have missed the cool stuff I’ve listed but we did loads of other things we would have missed if we had booked flights ahead and been locked into travel dates and activities!

This post is part of a writing project with a whole pile of other cool family travellers!  To  find out more cool stuff you’ll learn if you decide to take your own family travelling have a read of the below blogs!  Some of these families actually plan – you’re bound to learn some great stuff!  Travel Lessons: Can You Embrace the Unknown
The Nomadic Family:  I Know Nothing (and 99 Other Things The Road Has Taught Me)  5 Life Lessons Learned from Traveling
TravelwithBender:  So it’s been 6 Months –  You won’t believe what we have learnt!  6 Life Lessons From the Road (why 6? I have no idea!)
A King’s Life:  Two things I know for sure
Flashpacker Family:   Lessons from the road of life
Family on Bikes:  Complaining won’t change a gosh-darn thing
Family Travel Bucket List:  3 Things We’ve Learned While Living Outside of the US
RambleCrunch:  15 lessons I’ve learned traveling the world
Susan M V:  By Any Road..Lessons from the Journey
Our Travel Lifestyle – Travel:  Teaching us about ourselves

Hope you enjoyed the read!!

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Life Lessons From The Road – A Little Bit Of Planning Goes A Loooong Way!! — 27 Comments

    • It sure is Mary. As hard as Egypt turned out to be, I would not have wanted to miss our time there. Who knows if all the good stuff will still be standing in years to come?

  1. Ha ha ha…we sound like you. Lack of planning caused us to have to stand in the heat for 3 hours trying to cross the border from Mexico into the US to renew our Mexican tourist visas…on the day after a US Federal holiday. A little planning could have saved us at least 2 hours!
    Susan recently posted..Hello!My Profile

    • Eeek…that can’t have been fun Susan! We snuck right up to the Mexican border in our RV then played dumb when we were stuck in the line. They very kindly moved the safety barriers for us so we didn’t have to cross into Mexico! We made silly faces and told them we meant to turn into Walmart!!! But really we planned to right up and take photos! About our only planning all year!! hahahaha!

  2. Hahaha…what a fun list! (and that’s so sad that the security lady laughed at the tossed forbidden loot!)
    I guess when the planning goes wrong (or doesn’t happen at all), you still get funny (maybe not fun) memories to look back on 🙂 We always say, “well, this would be a great story to blog about!”
    Living Outside of the Box recently posted..6 Life Lessons from the RoadMy Profile

    • Standard remark I hear behind me when things are going pear-shaped…..I can feel a blog post coming on! I love anything that makes a good story so I’ll take the good with the bad! And you’re right – what a mean security lady!

  3. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this post!!!

    When we booked our non-refundable flights to Amsterdam to pick up our RV and start our European road trip, we just randomly picked any old day. Turns out we flew just before Queen’s Day, the Netherlands’ biggest holiday. Most hotels were booked, and we couldn’t even sleep in our new camper because the dealer was going to be closed.

    Eventually we found a pricey hotel that had one room left and would take our dog. But we had to stay there for the whole long weekend, which cost us over €700! My 11-year-old daughter claims it was worth it because she “really liked the brunch.” I have a different opinion.

    Just the TINIEST bit of research would have allowed us to steer clear of the holiday. We had a great time celebrating, but if we’d come a day earlier, we could have enjoyed it from the cheap comfort of our camper.

    From then we went on to have an awesomely great time in Europe, though we kept our itinerary pretty free-form and had quite a few of the misses you describe.

    I hate to be all schadenfreudey (new word!), but I’m pretty glad to discover we’re not the only ones who do this.

    Happy travels back to OZ! At least you’ll be able to drown your sorrows in Tim Tams.
    Renee recently posted..15 lessons I’ve learned traveling the worldMy Profile

    • OHMIGOD! 700 EUROS???? For a WEEKEND?? That is shocking Renee! Thank goodness the rest of your trip went well and soothed those wounds!! We decided early on not to get upset if we missed anything major. It’s a great excuse to catch it next time!! Judging from the comments we are definitely not the only ones to lack in the planning department!! Thanks for stopping by!

    • I’ve always planned our 2 or 3 weeks holidays with precision. A spreadsheet and notes right down to where we would eat each night. I can’t imagine after this long trip that I’ll ever bother to do that again but you never know!

  4. Nooooo! Not the Vegemite!!!!!!

    I have to say that I’m a bit of an obsessive planner. I get so much joy out of it that I just can’t help myself. However, once on the road I tend to screw up the plans and go with the flow. That why I get the best of both worlds! I do think though that there’s something to be said for just winging it. How cool that you got a random trip to Kuwait – who cares if it was in sheep slaughtering season!
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family recently posted..Lessons from the Road of LifeMy Profile

    • Yes Bethaney. The Vegemite!! I used to like planning – I think I still do for short trips. But for a whole year it’s just too hard! And then we have to suffer the consequences!

    • Hey Nancy. I’m so glad we are not the only ones! Just shows that we have no idea about anyone’s special occasions unless we visit!! As we were leaving Penang today we discovered there’s a 10 day festival on too! Oops!!

  5. All of your experiences, although unplanned, make for good memories and stories. The unexpected occurrences due to lack of research, made your trips quirky and how it was intended f for you all.
    Thanks for the great tips on how to plan, or not!

  6. To hell with it, who needs the stress and hassle of even more bloody planning? In a way, it’s kind of cool you missed these things because you are just that sort of person, does things on a whim, has fun in the moment. Loved the idea of you lot in a tent with the Russians btw. I am sorry you are having to think about ending the trip, I have loved reading your lunatic adventures. I hope you get to travel again some day soon.
    Alison recently posted..a wire brush and a bottle of dettol.              on things i wish to god i could forgetMy Profile

  7. Hi Tracey,

    What a wonderful adventure you and your family are having! Even though it’s coming to a close, I’m sure you’ll be able to have another one.

    I’d love to be in your shoes and also experience travel with my kids. Hopefully, in a few years’ time but I will really need to plan because I’ll be lost without plans although it would be nice to have pleasant surprises now and then.

    Too bad about the stuff you missed but glad for you that everything turned out fine!
    CreditDonkey recently posted..Best Credit Cards for Online ShoppingMy Profile

    • It’s funny I plan our short trips down to the very last detail but for a long trip it was overwhelming! We had a vague plan of how many weeks in each country and we rolled with it from there. Next time I’ll make a list of things we want to see and plan that way. When you finally set off on your trip you will have the most amazing time! Don’t underestimate just how great it will be!!!

  8. Yes. Plans change and change is a certainty. We too made many decisions on the fly and yes, we didn’t go to all the places we originally thought about. But we also went to lots of other places we never dreamed of going. 🙂

    Still it wouldn’t have been the same without those changes (good or bad?) and didn’t we all have a great adventure anyway!
    sabretoothed chickens recently posted..Sumopore Sojourn: Spider-Senses Are TinglingMy Profile

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