Planking to pass the time.

The typical questions you ask yourself when you start planning your vacation are the logistics:

  • Where you stay
  • How you travel to your destination
  • When and how long you go
  • Who you go with
  • What your schedule is while you’re there

I think of the logistics as the tent poles that hold up your vacation “tent.” The richness of the vacation is inside the tent. The trick with logistics is to hold them loosely–don’t get too caught up in everything working just like you thought. You might miss some real fun.

When I was younger, my sister and I would wait out interminable airplane delays by playing “Fashion Police” and “Glamour Don’t.” I can remember laughing uncontrollably as we people-watched everywhere we went. There are still things we laugh about today, that happened years ago. If we’d gotten too caught up in the delay, we would have missed the fun right in front of us.

Here’s another, more recent airport delay story: We had a tight connection to make in the tiny Belize City airport. We had gotten our bags and found our gate, and we could even see the tiny airplane on the tarmac waiting for us. We just couldn’t see the pilot, or the gate agent. We eventually found a gate agent who confirmed we were in the right spot, so we pulled out the deck of Uno and played. And played.

Then Jack decided he needed some exercise, so he planked right there on the gate chairs. And the Paige joined in…and Darcy…and, well, you get the idea. While we were goofing off, a lanky pilot carrying a half-eaten hot dog sauntered up to the gate agent who had now made his appearance. They chatted as the pilot continued to eat his lunch. He brushed his hands off and made his way out the door, to “our” plane. Then the gate agent looked right at us and said, “You need to go! Why aren’t you on the plane yet?” What?? We grabbed our scattered bags and books and rushed out to get on the plane he had motioned at. As we got on, the hot-dog-eating pilot greeted us from the left seat. And we were the only ones on the plane!!

We arrived at our hotel several hours later than planned, but they weren’t surprised as they had cold drinks and a late lunch waiting for us. Bill and I could have been angry–and then the kids would have been mad, too–but instead we just enjoyed our card and planking time together and took it as a lesson that time in the tropics is merely a suggestion. It was a good lesson!

This didn’t happen by magic for me. Back when we first started traveling as a family I would worry myself to death about all kinds of details, most especially the hotels. But I noticed that my anxiety made the kids a lot harder to please, too. I had to be very intentional about trying to stay calm, and I still do, but it is absolutely worth the effort. And you can almost always switch rooms, or hotels, or get a cleaning crew in to fix things.

It is worth the effort.

Besides, how often do you get to plank in the Belize City airport?

How have you turned an unexpected delay into a good thing? Or do you have a story of one gone horribly wrong? Please share what you’ve learned!