If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.
This is a popular Spanish refrán (saying) that I first heard in the 2000 Mexican film Amores perros, and it stuck with me. It’s the perfect quote for ANY trip, whether it be just a day trip to that beautiful place an hours drive from your home or that dream honeymoon you’ve planned since you were eight. Things happen, and things never go as planned.
While I think I’ve only had one genuinely bad trip in my life (Mallorca, I’m looking at you), I have had a lot of trips where things go wrong.
In Santiago de Compostela in 2009, I lost my debit card. I was there during the middle of Semana Santa, which meant all the banks were closed for the Easter festivities. I was able to report it missing, but I had about 20€ on me with the journey back to Madrid and on to Linares awaiting me. I was worried sick as I had a café con leche and tarta de Santiago, using the free wifi at that cool café to email my mom asking for money. I was very lucky she was able to put money in my American account so I could get back to where I was living.
I tend to lose things a lot, and unlike the Spanish kids I teach (Profeeee, someone robbed my rubber! You mean this rubber on the floor next to your desk? Oh, sorry!), I really do feel I lose them and they aren’t stolen. I later left my debit card in a pensión I was staying in Oviedo in 2012, about a month after I finally got the upgrade to one with a chip. I’ve been lucky in the fact I’ve never had any fradulent charges or anything. It’s a good idea to have your credit card company’s number stashed in your luggage somewhere if you don’t have Internet on your trip and need to report it lost or stolen quickly. (Also, let them know you’re travelling abroad! They are becoming more and more strict to protect people from identity theft and stolen cards in the modern world.)
I have also been lucky (just knocked the wooden table I’m sitting at) that I have only had ONE lost suitcase. Last year, returning from Christmas in the States, I met up with a snowstorm in Chicago. After two hours sitting on the runway, we finally took off, and while I made it through the connecting flight in Brussels, my poor suitcase did not. However, they had alerted the Bilbao airport to my luggage being in Brussels, and it was delivered straight to my flat the very next day.
Mallorca for me was a bad trip because of things going on in my life. I had just found out that the guy I had been crushing on for a year only saw me as a friend (always the friend and never the boyfriend! Pfft) and had just been told that my job was not renewing me because I was “too reserved”, so this put a damper on the whole trip. I was a bit annoyed whenever I went into a bar I was greeted not in Spanish, not in Mallorquín but in GERMAN. Is Mallorca no longer Spain? The entire trip was overcrowded with German tourists when I was looking forward to getting to know the Mallorquín culture. I’m planning a trip to Germany next year most likely, and I will learn about their interesting culture and language then. But when I’m in Spain, I want to learn about how different places in Spain do things different, as Spain has 17 distinct cultures and more languages than people. A broken heart and overcrowded touristy places are a sure way to make a trip bad for me.
Things also come up that change your plan. A transport strike in Greece forced me to change virtually all the plans I had been spending months making last-minute upon arrival in Athens. It turned out to be one of the best holidays ever, and I am dying for a return visit. (If I don’t do Germany-Czech Republic-Austria next Semana Santa, it *will* be a return trip to Greece or Morocco).
I had been spending most of my life wanting to try snowboarding, and last March, an opportunity came up with my school to chaperone a day in the snow in La Rioja. I was doing well after the quick snowboard lesson, and one of my students challenged me to a slope that was a step up from the bunny slope. Due to someone NOT getting out of my way, I fell and sprained my ankle in the process. It took two and a half months to finally heal.
When traveling, delays and cancellations are always possible. Sometimes a positive attitude will get you places. In 2005, when my mom and I were going to Puerto Rico, the first plane’s engine was giving problems. Now, it may just be me, but I’d rather have the flight cancelled than to be on a plane with a faulty engine. Yet the poor desk agents were being cursed by angry businessmen. Last time I checked, the desk agents most likely are not trained in plane engine mechanics and are not Supermen/women. When we treated them nicely and with respect, we were booked on the next flight to Orlando to catch our connecting flight. However, this flight would turn into a disaster thanks to a thunderstorm over Orlando that gave the plane two hours of circling before having to make an emergency landing in Daytona to refuel. Eventually we were able to go to Orlando, where we had to run across the airport, pass through security again (thank God we didn’t have any liquids) and were upgraded to first class due to our all troubles.
The less said about my experiences with Ryan Air, the better. I’ve taken a divergent memory serum to forget all about them!
Things happen. Life happens. When it does, just remember to take a deep breath, relax and keep an open mind. It’s annoying to have flights cancelled, lose your wallet or passport or whatever, or be met with transportation strikes. However, remember these things can happen anywhere and to anyone. You’re getting an opportunity to travel and see the world! Focusing on the positive is easier said than done but well worth the effort.
Still…I am asking myself how do I lose so much stuff everywhere I go…
What have been YOUR worst travel experiences? Were you able to turn them around and enjoy the trip?