Let's face it: traveling can be stressful. At the end of a vacation, sometimes I need another vacation to recover from the first one.
Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to plan and execute a seamless vacation, something goes wrong anyway.
Here are a few words to think about:
"Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure."
I recently came across this quote by author Bob Bitchin and I couldn't help but relate. I can't tell you how many times I have watched as a well-thought-out plan went up in flames. In every single one of those instances, the outcome has been determined by how the situation was handled.
Let me give you a few examples (and trust me, I have plenty more where these came from):
On the first trip that my friends and I planned on our own during our month-long study abroad program in Italy (the other trips were either organized by the faculty or booked through Bus2alps), we booked our train tickets for the wrong day. Wouldn't this be a nice thing to discover before we were sitting on the platform in Verona with 10 minutes until our train was scheduled to arrive to take us back to Florence? I have never snapped into action mode so quickly in my life. We ran to the ticket counter, essentially cut in front of a line of angry Italians (this was a terrible move, I do not recommend cutting in front of any line, ever) and frantically explained our situation to a woman who managed to transfer our tickets so we could get back to the platform with just a few minutes to spare. The key to this entire would-be ordeal was remaining calm. Can you imagine if five girls walked into that ticket office crying and panicking about tickets? That woman probably would not have understood us, let alone been able to help us.
When I went to Athens last spring, my friend Paige and I showed up to our hotel only to be informed that our reservation had been canceled because the payment did not go through. The blame easily could have been placed on us for this one, if it weren't for the fact that the hotel did not even contact us to let us know what had happened or give us a chance to use a different form of payment. Again, this was not going to be solved by lashing out at the man at the reception desk, even though he basically dismissed us until I put my foot down and asked him to help us. No matter what, we were going to find a place to stay for the night, and remembering that instead of panicking about potentially having to sleep on the street was essential. As it turns out, a couple was supposed to check in earlier in the morning and by the late afternoon, they still had not arrived or contacted the hotel. I don't know what happened to them, but we were given what would have been their room, and all was well.
Have you ever awoken in a panic, thinking that you're late for work or school? For a flight? During my semester in Dublin, the majority of our flights left early in the morning, so we had to be awake and out the door at about 4 a.m. to get to the airport. I made it through four months of this without any problems, and then on one of my last trips, to Amsterdam, I overslept. The two friends with whom I was traveling called and texted me a dozen times, which I would have known if my phone wasn't on silent (I like to sleep through the night without any distractions, sue me). Finally, they were able to reach my roommate, who woke me up. If you don't already pack the night before for leaving for a trip, I highly recommend it. I was able to throw on my clothes, grab my suitcase and get out the door within five minutes. I had already missed the airport bus by this point, but I was able to get a taxi and get to the airport with plenty of time to go through security and even eat breakfast before I had to board the plane.
Do you sense a theme here? S*** happens. However, the outcome will always be determined by how you react to a stressful situation. Use it as a learning experience and later you will (hopefully) be able to look back and laugh at your silly mistake. Sometimes the most incredible adventures come out of the worst circumstances.
Other times, there is not a positive outcome. Sometimes a situation just sucks, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. When my GoPro disappeared from my apartment (likely stolen by a maintenance worker who had been in my room that week), I full-on panicked. When my friend Ilana had her wallet stolen out of her purse at a store in Florence, she had a slight mental breakdown. My lovely Canadian friend Vanessa had her phone stolen right out of her hand while she was walking down the street in Dublin, and I would bet good money that her first thought was not, "oh, well." We're all human, and sometimes crying and having a "moment" is necessary.
Fortunately, each of these situations had some sort of solution, but I am well aware that it doesn't always work out that way.
At the end of the day, no matter where your travels take you or how many obstacles you encounter, you just have to sit back and focus on the best parts of traveling. Make memories with the people you love (or on your own, if you're traveling solo). Remember how fortunate you are to be able to explore and travel the world in the first place.
One of the professors from my trip to Italy gave us an awesome piece of advice at orientation on our first day in Florence. He told us that no matter what happens, just say to yourself, "who cares, I'm in Italy!" And it's true; I would definitely rather be stressed in Italy (or just about any other country that I have traveled to) than at home.
It's all about perspective.
What's you most memorable travel mishap? How did you handle the situation? Let me know in the comments!
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