Posted on March 1, 2012 by Meg Manazir — Comments Off
We’ve all had an occasional travel headache; some of us have even had some serious travel nightmares. One thing is certain: nothing that derails your travels is welcomed with open arms. But with a different perspective – and perhaps some anecdotes from those who have been there, it’s possible to turn that negative scenario into an opportunity.
The folks at Fathom (who are seriously in-the-know and have the best travel tips and stories – plus we just adore what they have to say) capture author Amy Spencer’s ideas on just how to stay cool when all hell breaks loose:
You’ve been robbed. Passport, money, clothes: gone. Now what?
After you’ve dealt with the logistics of replacing your passport, calling your credit card company, and locating cash, deal with how you feel. Because the last thing you want is for some crook’s selfish act to ruin your entire vacation. Start by asking yourself, “What didn’t I lose?” The camera around your neck? The favorite shirt on your back? The train reservation to the next stop along your trip? You didn’t lose your ability to stroll through the city’s central park for free on your final day in town.
My friend and I were halfway into a month-long, cross-country road trip when our car was broken into and all our clothes were stolen. At first I was angry about what I’d lost. But then a funny thing happened: I felt liberated carrying little more than the clothes on my back. After all, we still had our car, each other, and a few weeks left on the open road.
Once you’ve stomped out your anger, focus on your health and your attitude, and have fun with what you have left. Don’t let a thief steal that from you, too.
The guy sitting next to you keeps pushing your elbow off the armrest and taking it all for himself. WTF?
Annoying strangers have a way of ruining our good mood, don’t they? You could elbow him right back to confirm your stance in what will be an unyielding battle for the duration of the flight, but I recommend this instead: Let him have it. Yes, it’s the principle of the thing when a stranger hogs your space or cuts in line, but when you get too focused on the bad behavior of the people around you, you don’t have any mental room left to enjoy the good stuff. Sit back and let them pass — sometimes literally.
That’s one of the things I appreciated most about driving in Ireland on small, winding, two-lane roads: If one car wanted to drive faster than another, the front car would simply pull over, let the faster driver pass, then calmly pull back onto the road. It’s so much more civilized than taunting a tailgater with brake lights in a battle for lane supremacy. When people encroach on your personal space, step back, make a quick exit, wait for them to pass. You’ll have the space to yourself once again.
You accidentally booked a seat on the local train instead of the express, which will add two hours to your trip, and now you can’t change it.
If you’re on the slower train, download a two-hour movie to distract you. Buy a cheap pillow so you can nap and arrive refreshed. Use the time to research the perfect lunch spot. Ask a local for must-do suggestions upon arriving at your destination.
Be your own travel lifeguard: Don’t fight the current and tire yourself out — float with it. Take, for example, the setback I share in Bright Side Up about what happened when journalist (and fab FATHOM contributor) Mark Ellwood woke up realizing he’d set his alarm for p.m. instead of a.m. and missed his plane home for Christmas. He immediately booked a later flight for an additional fee of $1,000. Yeah, ouch. But he asked to be upgraded to business class and made the best of his situation: He drank free cocktails, ate fine food, and settled in for a comfortable overnight rest.
Your hotel overbooked, and the new place reserved for you is across from a 24-hour disco with a view of a parking lot. Sanity? At a moment like this?
Sure, it stinks when something goes wrong. But when three things go wrong, you’ve got the makings of a really funny story. In fact, the worse it gets, the funnier it will be, so start making a list of all that’s gone wrong and begin to imagine how you’ll tell your hilarious story later.
When I went to Cuba with a friend who’d been before and assured me we could absolutely, positively use our U.S. credit cards while we were away, we’d already spent most of our cash on our guest room, music, and mojitos before realizing we had three days left and only $20 between us. The worse it got, the funnier it was — from failed trips to four banks and a Western Union to the two-mile walk to a part of town where mini-sandwiches cost fifty cents instead of a dollar. On our last night in Old Havana we split one beer and a Cuban cigar on a park bench and listened to music in the distance. We laughed as we recounted the details of our most memorable trip.