No matter how much we plan for the perfect, seamless trip, sometimes life has other plans. Whether it is a missed flight or train, a language barrier that you can’t cross or some foreign food that makes you wish you had stuck to the granola bar you brought along, sometimes things go wrong.
While a travel snafu can feel like the end of the world, some simple approaches to how you manage conflict both mentally and with your actions can save your trip from becoming a huge headache.
Here are my top tips for what to do when things go wrong…
Seriously. Take a step back and breathe. Try to reframe the situation in a way that makes it manageable. Did you miss your connecting flight? Breathe. Sit down and realistically look at your options. Do you really need to get somewhere asap or can you take a day to go on an unexpected day trip while you wait for the next flight? Go grab a glass of wine and even write down your options, if that is helpful to you. But the main thing is not to panic. When we start to stress about things going wrong, we lose the clarity that we need to work on setting them right.
Remember the tools available to you.
While I am admittedly not the most up on all the new technology, I feel like an absolute caveman for not having discovered Google Translate prior to my most recent trip to Italy. Seriously. I might as well be a Grandma.
Translate is just one of many tools available in the palm of your hand that can help mitigate issues as they arise.
You know that old “There’s an app for that!” ad? Well, it’s the truth. There really is an app for everything. Before you admit defeat, search the App Store. Whether you need help finding a cheap flight or rental car, translating in the midst of a huge language barrier, finding local medical services, or finding a local who speaks your language, the App Store is your best friend. There are a wealth of apps that are made for every situation you could possibly encounter!
Find someone who speaks your language. Literally.
When something goes wrong while you are abroad, the best thing you can do is to find someone who speaks your language. Ideally someone who doesn’t seem sketchy, but that’s up to you.
In the midst of stress and confusion, finding someone who you can communicate with not only can help you out of a bad situation, but can also help calm you down and reason through your options.
I would recommend venturing in to a local hotel or tour company. In most places, you will find someone with a basic working knowledge of English. When Adam and I were lost at 2am in Budapest and our phones were dead, we ventured in to a hotel in a tourist-y area and were able to find a member of their front desk who knew enough English to help guide us back to our AirBnb and give us a free map.
Whether you need help or just some comfort, being able to communicate with others is so key.
Make the most of a bad situation.
A cancelled flight doesn’t have to be the end of the world. In fact, it can sometimes be cause for an unexpected adventure!
During a recent trip to the East Coast, our flight from Newark to Boston was cancelled due to weather, leaving us stuck in Newark with no way to get out until the morning (gotta love East Coast winters!). Instead of sulking at the Newark airport all night, we decided to take an Uber in to New York and spent 4 hours seeing everything we possibly could in NYC before calling it a night before our early flight. What could have been a night in a crummy airport hotel turned in to Adam’s first time seeing New York, tired selfies in Times Square, and $1.99 pizza at midnight. In my book, that beats moping in an airport hotel.
Remember that sometimes the best adventures are the ones you don’t expect!
Remember that when things go wrong, most people out there want to help you. Be kind to the people at the airport who had no say over whether or not your flight was cancelled. Be kind to the people doing their best to help you. Kindness goes a long, long way.
Be safe. Be smart.
I will, until my dying breath, maintain that the world is only as scary a place as you allow it to be. That being said, there are situations you may find yourself in where you need to be exceptionally alert and aware. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are smarter or stronger than whatever situation you find yourself in. Be smart and aware of your surroundings. Don’t do things that would get you in trouble at home and don’t assume that you are above repercussions abroad. Be safe. Be smart.