Why we roll with the punches: Allowing flexibility in our ‘plans’

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Plans guidelines and intentions are great. Having a set itinerary of where we’ll be and when is surely useful for friends and family keeping track of us and expecting our visits. But what about the places you don’t expect to fall in love with, and want to stay a little bit longer? Or the areas that you think are going to be amazing, but end up not jiving with you once you arrive? If you’ve pre-booked everything in advance, it leaves little room for allowing flexibility in your choices.

Exploring beautiful Sidney at 7am on a whim.

Exploring beautiful Sidney at 7am on a whim.

Thom and I have a vision of what we want to accomplish on this trip, things we’d like to see and do in the 4 to 8 months of driving across Canada and working back in Nova Scotia. I have list approximately a mile long, of people I need to visit across the rest of Canada, people that I haven’t seen in years and can’t wait to catch up with.

Just because it’s planned doesn’t mean it will happen that way

But as good as these plans are there will no doubt be a spanner thrown into the works here and there. Therefore minimal plans have been confirmed and dates are not set. And that’s just as well, because already our ‘plans’ have hit a few bumps in the road.

For instance, we bought our truck, a Ford Explorer, and were all geared up to leave Shirley’s house in Surrey Wednesday morning to s.et off for the ferry to Vancouver Island. We had plans to meet Diana for lunch in Victoria

Those all went out the window when we had to get our truck checked out again, because it was making some funky/worrying noises. Better safe than sorry, we booked in to see Paul, Shirley’s mechanic early Wednesday morning. He confirmed Thom’s suspicions – the brake callipers had seized and needed replacing. Having driven less than 10 kilometres total since taking it home, neither of us were impressed with Rick., the salesman. Feeling duped and ripped off, I rang him up and got his boss, John. He remedied the situation by having us take it to the shop that he deals with.

John at Minit Tune wasn’t overly impressed to see us, and told us it would take a couple hours to do the job, as he had to let it all cool down. We gave him two hours and when we returned all was ‘fixed’ (apparently, we’re still undecided on that one).

But our 11am ferry had come and gone and I was very glad we hadn’t booked a ticket online. Changing it would have been one more drama that we just didn’t need. Everything was packed up into the truck, and we set off once we were good and ready, half a day later than we’d intended.

Turning up to the Twassen ferry terminal at about 4.30pm, the sign overhead said it was 77% full. By just turning up when we were ready, we managed to dodge the 18.50 online booking fee (yes!) and we got in line no troubles. Win for no plans! Even if we had to wait for the next boat, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.

Allowing flexibility in deciding where to stay

With our new bed in the back, we’ve had the freedom to stay wherever we want (as long as there are no signs telling us otherwise). We haven’t planned this in advance, but we’ve just rocked up and sussed something out. This has involved a bit of patience on our part, because often plan A has failed, and so has plan B and we keep bouncing ideas off each other, until we’ve got a solution that we’re both happy and comfortable with.

It can be a little unnerving having no plans the later it gets. In Victoria city, after checking out several beaches/coastal areas all with designated sign posting “no overnight parking or sleeping in vehicles” we decided not to risk getting ticketed or towed, and went back to the rest stop near the ferry to rest for the night. That’s what it’s designed for, right?

After catching up with Steph and Diana on Thursday night, our general direction was north towards Tofino, so at about 9pm after leaving the hospital, just as it was getting dark, we started driving. No idea where we’d stay, we just drove until we saw campground signs marked on the highway. The first we came across was an RV park, but the man didn’t have any tent sites open yet and recommended we’d be better off heading 4km up the road to Goldstream Provincial Park.

car camping at goldstream provincial park bc

Finding the perfect spot to camp, by chance and word of mouth

Off we set, following his directions, a little unsure in the dark. But low and behold, we turned up to the perfect spot to tuck in for the night. The next morning we were on our way again, Tofino-bound.

Once we were in Tofino, we considered getting a room for the night. We had a map, and my gut feeling told me Tofino Travellers Guesthouse was where we wanted to be. Rocking up to the doorstep, Nick said he was full for Friday night, but could have us Saturday night, and since we had our bed-in-the-back-truck, we could park out the front without any troubles and stay there.


Going with gut instincts that this was the place we should stay

Allowing flexibility in what to do

I knew I wanted to check out Tofino because I’d heard lots of cool things about it, but nothing specific. I’d heard there was good whale watching in zodiac boats, and read that there were hot springs around, the Tofino Times Free Guide had mentioned lots of yoga and pilates classes. Wandering around town after parking the truck, we came across the Block Party and ribbon cutting ceremony. It was pretty cool to be a part of the little community as they celebrated their growth, improvement and teamwork.

Spotting the first whale watching company we came across, we popped in to see what they were all about. Open to any and all possibilities, we listened to the different programs and tours they had available, and decided to go all out on a 7 hour whale watching tour to Hot Springs Cove the next afternoon.

The weather in Tofino was less than ideal, and I couldn’t have been happierĀ  to have a bed and a warm shower to come home to after spending 7 hours in the rain, completely soaked. Sleeping in the truck wouldn’t have cut it. It felt like it all just worked out perfectly. One night turned into two at Tofino Travellers with neither of us in a hurry to leave the relaxed atmosphere and chill vibes. We didn’t have to be anywheres, and it was raining so why not take advantage of the free wifi and comfy beds for another day.

Tofino wharf on a rainy day

Perhaps not a picturesque day to be out at sea, but we’ll take it

A magical unplanned walk through the rainforest

A magical unplanned walk through the rainforest

So for not having any pre-booked set plans or dates, we’ve had an amazing time so far! Looking forward to the new experiences that will present themselves along the way as we cross Canada.

Are you a plan in advance type, or a just wing it as you go?






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{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Kate May 15, 2013, 6:57 pm

    It find it’s sooo hard to balance the stress of uncertainty vs. the stress of being locked into plans. Currently we still haven’t booked our ticket off Hawaii, so will see how that works out when I come to book the fares and compare them to what they were when I looked earlier!
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    • Kate May 16, 2013, 1:16 am

      I would’ve come without return tickets, if everyone hadn’t made such a big deal that Thom NEEDED to have them to get on the plane… oh well, can’t complain, because we got decent deals and are definitely going to Hawaii and Fiji :)

      Good luck with the prices, hopefully they are kind!

  • Erik May 15, 2013, 8:52 pm

    I am a chronic overplanner, but I’ve found I really enjoy the flexible parts of a trip. I had some flexibility built in on my New Zealand trip last year, and those unplanned days were some of the best.

    Due to the need to book hotels and train reservations, I didn’t have hardly any flexibility on this last trip to Europe. There’s something to be said about having the security of a room booked, but I did really miss the ability to improvise.

    • Kate May 16, 2013, 1:17 am

      Part of the beauty of being able to be this flexible, is that we’ve actually got quite a bit of time to work with… (note to self, do not take this for granted)

  • Jose(nz) May 16, 2013, 10:50 am

    Nice one Kate,
    im no fan of plans either but uncertainty can get to you sometimes

    • Kate May 19, 2013, 6:01 am

      No plans can leave you stagnant if you let it, but that’s not always a bad thing either

  • Bethaney - Flashpacker Family May 18, 2013, 11:10 pm

    It’s such a hard balance. My instinct is to plan, plan, plan but I’m trying to be more free and easy with it now.
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    • Kate May 19, 2013, 6:03 am

      It was always my instinct as well, but have been loving not lately!

  • lola May 20, 2013, 4:11 pm

    i agree that there needs to be a balance. since i’m not a RTW traveler i typically at least have hard start & stop dates but definitely allow for flexibility with in that. i do like to research things and have an idea of what to do but i’m not so rigid that i have to do what i’ve come up with. i DO make dinner reservations because i like to try hip/cool places and you just won’t get in if you wait til the last second with my travel schedule.
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  • Jenna May 20, 2013, 10:11 pm

    I’ve learned the hard way that we have to be flexible, not just in travel, but also in life.
    Jenna recently posted..Going Local at the Red RabbitMy Profile

    • Kate May 21, 2013, 6:06 am

      Ah yes, I’m very familiar with the hard way!

  • Anita Mac May 25, 2013, 10:33 pm

    First off – very cool to be driving across Canada! I did it by bicycle a few years ago, and there was certainly very little pre-booking in advance! You don’t always know how far your legs will be able to peddle on any given day! I like to always book my first night when I arrive somewhere new! Especially when jet lag is involved. From there, I like to keep it open and flexible! Now that most places have WiFi, I will sometimes book my next town a day before heading out…just because I can!
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