We are now more than a week into the 6,000+ mile journey around the U.S. during the months of February and March. Jim Raffel left on Feb. 8 and took two days to drive to Breckenridge, Colo. After spending a couple of days on the slopes, he drove to Phoenix where he met up with Shelby Sapusek on Feb. 12. After meeting with a client in Phoenix, they started making their way across the southwest. As of this writing, they are in Abilene, Texas, about 200 miles west of Dallas.
Jim has written about how much time and effort went into the planning of this trip. But we can only control so much. That became apparent before I left to join him in Phoenix. We’ve figured out that with a trip of this magnitude, we have to be flexible with our schedule and our plans.
Planning ahead won’t always save you
There is no question that I was a little nervous about booking my flights for the trip. Flying in February can be dicey during normal years but with a winter like this one where the common weather catchphrase is “polar vortex,” there were sure to be problems.
Back in December when my flights were booked, I requested to connect in Atlanta instead of my other option of Minneapolis. I figured that my chances of beating bad weather would be better if I connected in a southern city. Also to be on the safe side, I decided to fly out a day earlier than originally planned. We thought we were hedging our bets pretty well.
We were wrong.
At the end of January and two weeks before my scheduled flight to Phoenix through Atlanta, the city was crippled by a couple of inches of snow. I remember thinking, “What if this happened on my flight day?” Who would have thought it actually would happen on my flight day and be even worse?
But it was.
An ice storm began forming in the southeast and the predicted “historic ice and snow event” actually came to pass. However, I was lucky because two days before my flight and before the storm actually hit Atlanta, Delta offered me an alternative flight through – you guessed it – Minneapolis, which is the connection city I initially rejected when making my plans. Even better, there were no charges for changing my flight. Sure, I had to leave earlier than planned to make the change but I was willing to be flexible instead of facing the possibility of getting stranded in Atlanta due to the ice storm or maybe not even flying that day at all.
I made it safely through Minneapolis to Phoenix on my new flight schedule. And I found out later that my original flight was canceled and for a time all flights were grounded in Atlanta.
Sometimes you have to do the canceling
Before Jim left on the trip, he had also made an effort to build in some fun along the way. He was able to ski in Breckenridge as planned but he decided to cancel his caving expedition in Carlsbad, New Mexico.
In theory, he should have been able to keep to the plan. He had scheduled the four-hour tour of Spider Cave on a Sunday, which was a driving day and not a day we had scheduled to visit clients. However, he had also planned to stop in Carlsbad to do the tour in the middle of a 500-mile daylong drive from El Paso, Texas, to Abilene, Texas.
He ended up canceling the caving tour.
While this sounded like a feasible idea during the planning process, once the day actually arrived and he looked ahead at the next day which included another 200 miles of driving followed by an important client visit, he decided to skip the caving tour. He made this decision based on the work ahead of him and the amount of time and hours that were going to be spent driving before and after the physical exertion of the tour.
Be flexible with your business travel plans
We aren’t even halfway through the 30-day business travel trip and we’ve already had to have some flexibility with our plans. We would be naive to think that there won’t be more situations that arise that will cause us to examine our schedule and perhaps tell ourselves that we need to be flexible to ultimately make the trip a success.