You’ve been dreaming of your upcoming trip for months, planning every detail down to the last second. You’ve packed your bags, checked your passport, and arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare.
But then, disaster strikes: your flight is delayed, your accommodation is nothing like advertised, or you get sick on your first day.
The trip is ruined? It’s actually up to you!
Your traveling mindset is a huge factor in whether or not you have a good experience.
We’ll explore six common travel mishaps that can catch even the most experienced travelers off guard and provide practical tips on navigating them with grace so that you can focus on enjoying your travels to the fullest.
Is It Possible To Stay Positive When Things Go Wrong on a Trip?
Absolutely! With a few simple mindset shifts, you can always find ways to instantly make yourself happier and keep your adventure on track.
If something unexpected happens, don’t treat it as the end of the world! Instead, take a deep breath, reassess the situation, and remind yourself that you’re on a journey.
Don’t give anything the power to take away from your experience, and always look for the silver lining – whether that’s discovering a new destination or learning a valuable lesson for your future adventures.
6 Common Travel Mishaps To Be Mindful About
1. Getting Sick
You can get sick on a trip from all sorts of things: food poisoning from questionable street food, catching a cold from your seatmate on the plane, and even from those pesky mosquitoes in tropical destinations.
Whatever happens, keeping a positive mindset is crucial in order to recover quickly and still have a chance of bringing back good memories!
A few years back, I went on a short 5-day trip to beautiful Mallorca with my girlfriends, and I woke up with a fever and runny nose on the first morning. Did I allow it to ruin my experience and claim it to be the worst trip ever? Of course not! It still became one of my favorite trips of all time.
Even though I had to make myself hot drinks from flu-relief powder packets when everyone else enjoyed their morning coffee, I didn’t allow it to affect my mood. I was totally determined to have a good time no matter what, and I did!
How to Prepare:
While you can’t predict all kinds of situations, you can totally come prepared for the most common ones. Bring a small medical kit that includes over-the-counter flu medicine, antihistamines, and pain relievers; make sure to have all the necessary vaccinations done, get the travel insurance beforehand, and you are good to go!
2. Expectations vs. Reality
This one is not usually mentioned among the most common travel mishaps, but it is known to ruin a lot of trips.
On my last trip to Cancun, Mexico, I specifically booked a hotel room with a balcony and full sea view, and when we arrived, they put us in a small room with no balcony, a view of the parking lot, and the windows that couldn’t even be opened. We were able to sort it out the next day and got moved to the room we paid for, but it wasn’t the most pleasant first experience.
Sometimes it’s impossible to know about mishaps in advance, and stressing out about it doesn’t get you anywhere.
Once in Sri Lanka, my husband and I had to leave our accommodation late in the evening in search of the new one because of the awful smell the owner could do nothing about. And there we were, walking along the road with our suitcases in the dark, looking for a tuk-tuk that could take us to the nearest hotel we just found on Google Maps and hoped it had a vacant room.
We could get sad, disappointed, and frustrated, but instead, we decided to see it as an adventure and another story to tell in the future. And we focused on feeling grateful: for the tuk-tuk driver who was available at that hour and managed to fit both our suitcases in a tuk-tuk, for the Google Maps and the power of mobile Internet, and for the new hotel that appeared to be one of the best accommodations we had in Sri Lanka.
How To Prepare and Cope:
Read the reviews carefully, especially the recent ones and the negative ones. Don’t book anything without reviews unless you have to, or at least have a backup plan. Also, take a minute and leave a review about your own stays as a courtesy for the next travelers, especially if there is something to warn them about!
As for the mindset, remember to look for the bright side, find the best solution available to you, and use various mindful activities to calm down if you feel on edge.
For example, a mindful walk can help you clear your head and shift your focus from the ruined expectations to the beauty around you. And a quiet meditation can raise your mood and come up with creative ways to solve the situation.
3. Pickpocketing or Lost Items
I used to stress so much about pickpockets, especially before my first solo trip to Italy! It seemed everyone on the Internet was talking about how dangerous those touristy cities were, and I was almost convinced that I would be a victim of scams, robbery, or worse.
In fact, research shows that 91% of the things we worry about never happen, which is, I think, a good reason to reconsider worrying about all the things that could go wrong and focus on positive travel predictions instead.
While pickpocketing does happen, and losing personal items isn’t that uncommon, you can use lots of travel hacks to avoid these situations.
On the same trip to Mallorca, one of my friends forgot her wallet on a bus and never managed to get it back. There was panic, crying, and running around trying to figure it out, but we could calm her down and finish most of the things we had planned for the trip regardless.
How to Prepare:
Always be aware of your surroundings and people in close proximity to you. Check regularly that your bag is zipped and valuables are safe. Leave the most important documents in the hotel safe instead of always bringing them with you. Don’t keep your money in one place. Invest in clothing and bags with hidden pockets.
Another good idea might be to write down all the important phone numbers and addresses in a notebook so you can access all the information in case something happens to your phone.
And while it’s important to be prepared and mindful, don’t overthink it too much! Everything is”figureoutable”, and most mishaps aren’t as horrible as they initially feel.
4. Language Barrier
Language barriers can be a real challenge on a trip, leading to frustrating miscommunications, cultural misunderstandings, and even a sense of isolation or culture shock.
However, with a little bit of effort and a positive attitude, you can overcome these troubles and connect with locals in a meaningful way. For instance, learning a few key phrases in the local language can help you navigate basic conversations, and using common gestures can actually go a long way.
How To Prepare and Cope:
Keep your phone charged at all times. Install a text or voice-based translator (make sure to download the target language packs if you won’t have Internet outside of the hotel). Always be open-minded and polite, and try to smile more!
According to different studies, smiling can relieve stress and make you appear more trustworthy, which is very helpful when you feel uneasy trying to communicate with strangers who don’t speak your language.
5. Flight Delays
Traveling includes transportation by definition, but not all airlines are equally good. In fact, even with the best of them, there are so many people, bags, and other factors involved that making each flight 100% perfect is virtually impossible.
While they are always trying to do their best, bad things happen: sometimes they come from human errors, other times from weather conditions or other issues airlines have no control over.
How To Prepare and Cope:
First of all, don’t get frustrated. Find a way to leverage the situation and make the most of it!
For example, if your flight is delayed for a couple of hours, spending that time complaining on social media is not a good use of your time. Instead, read a good book, or catch up on the tasks you never have the time to do: whether it’s cleaning your e-mail inbox folder, reflecting on the last year, or planning the activities for next week.
If it’s more than a couple of hours, you can go explore the city more and maybe even catch that walking tour you didn’t manage to fit into your trip schedule. Also, most airlines can check you into a hotel free of charge if your flight is significantly delayed – make sure to know your rights!
6. Weather Conditions
Unfortunate weather conditions can quickly turn a dream trip into a nightmare, and it’s one of the most common travel mishaps that can throw your whole itinerary into disarray.
Thankfully, with a little bit of flexibility and a willingness to adapt, you can still salvage your trip and make the most of your time! This could mean reorganizing your itinerary to include indoor activities, investing in the right gear to stay comfortable and dry, or simply embracing the unexpected and finding new adventures in the rain or snow.
How To Prepare and Cope:
Make sure to know enough about your destination in advance and travel in the right season. Check the weather forecast for the whole duration of your trip, and always bring a lightweight raincoat “just in case.” Google “things to do in X when it rains/snows,” and note down a couple of options. Or bring a pretty umbrella and enjoy walking in the rain!
No matter how carefully we plan, unexpected mishaps can and do occur, turning an otherwise magical trip into a frustrating and stressful experience. But don’t let the fear of mishaps hold you back from exploring the world! With the right mindset and a bit of smart planning, you can overcome any obstacle and create unique memories that will stay with you long after you return home.
This post originally appeared on A Dime Saved.