Traveling solo offers extreme flexibility when plans require change
I studied German for seven years in high school and college and it was always my dream to travel to Germany to practice what I had learned. Unfortunately, life seemed to get in the way and even with all of the wonderful places I have visited, Germany never seemed to make the list. Until this year, that is. My first trip ever to Germany was in May to attend the Hamburg Port Festival Do. And, in connection with the fantastic opportunity which presented itself of being able to book a Lufthansa First Class flight, I had planned to spend an additional ten days in Germany this summer. The plan was to fly to Berlin and spend a few days there, then rent a car and drive south along the Romantic Road ultimately ending up in Munich. However, because of an important meeting that I felt I could not miss, I had to shorten my trip by four days. Not wanting to lose my Lufthansa First itinerary, I was able to change the return portion of my flight with no change fees and no additional miles (thanks to a great supervisor at United who noted those conditions on my itinerary – ultimately it took about five calls to make it work). This involved giving up my direct Munich to Charlotte flight and changing it to a Vienna business class ticket to JFK. Luckily, I was able to find space on Austrian from Berlin to Vienna. My German vacation now consisted of three days in Berlin and one day in Vienna. Had there been someone else traveling with me, I don’t think the change process would have gone nearly as smooth. Chances are I would not have been able to make a travel partner happy about the change. Flexibility is not a trait that all travelers share.
As it turned out, I had a wonderful time in Berlin… made some new friends… and probably saw and did more than I would have had it only been a stopping point on my original trip. Rather than letting disappointment at having to change color the trip, I chose to adjust accordingly.
I have a friend who is traveling in the Netherlands right now. She is traveling solo and her itinerary included two days in Amsterdam at the beginning of her trip. She was registered for an event in Baarlo (Netherlands) but when she arrived and checked out her hotel arrangements, she was less than pleased. The hotel had no air conditioning and she was sharing with roommates she didn’t know. The beds in her room were bunk beds and she was assigned the top bunk, a less than optimal situation. She had seen only a bit of Amsterdam, but it was enough to know that she wanted to see more and would rather be there. As she told me, “I had seen enough in Baarlo to know that I wanted out of there.” She had enough money in her travel fund and enough Marriott points to cover another four nights in Amsterdam. She made arrangements for her room and hopped back on the train to Amsterdam, where she is now enjoying a lovely solo vacation in a fabulous city. Again, had she been traveling with someone else, her change in plans may not have happened – and she would have been stuck in a situation she did not enjoy.
These are just two examples where solo travel offers the flexibility to change plans when setbacks in original plans occur. This is not to say that plans cannot be changed when traveling with others, but it sure simplifies matters when you are traveling alone.
Have you ever experienced last minute travel changes?