Hey! Wait a minute say –whaaat??!
What do you mean “ugly”? Travelling is a wonderful enlightening experience. How could that be ugly?
And so, this brings us to this week’s topic. We are often painted a picture of beautiful beaches, turquoise waters and palm trees swaying in the breeze- nice to imagine - isn’t it?
Now don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying you won’t have this experience, most likely you will, however chances are you will first experience a few bumps along the road to that amazing beach vacation paradise. Whether you are a novice traveler or and experienced traveler the reality is, travelling is not always as seamless as it would appear. Not only have many of my clients encountered various issues, I have as well. And although I’m a travel advisor that does not make me immune to travel mishaps. I have also experienced various incidents throughout my travels.
As I think back on my travels there were very few times where the trip was incident free. Some things were minor, others not so minor. Everything from flight delays, flight cancellations, delayed baggage to being singled out by customs for pat downs and for luggage searches. As much as we prepare, there are things that are going to happen, things that are totally out of our control (this is a very good reason to make sure you have sufficient travel coverage). .
Travel requires you to have many skills. I think the key to travel success — the one skill that matters more than anything else — is adaptability. There is no skill or trait more important. You can suck at reading a map, have dietary issues that keep you eating only lettuce, and have absolutely no ability to learn a new language, but if you cannot adapt to new situations, you won’t make it.
Many people fear they’ll be unable to adjust to the unknowns of the road. So while they might dream of spending their days roaming the world, exploring ancient ruins, and lounging on the beach, they don’t actually do it. Fear and uncertainty grip them.
Sure, the road is long and bumpy. It twists and turns. It stops suddenly. Nothing is perfect on the road. You get lost in the jungle, lose your camera, miss a flight, get sick, or get stuck somewhere where no one speaks English — it doesn’t matter: something will happen to you. Having a flight cancelled then having to overnight to catch the next flight when it was originally only a 4 day trip wasn't on my list of travel goals. Neither was vomiting in the middle of nowhere high up in the mountains of the Dominican Republic.
If there is one constant in travel, it is that eventually, something goes wrong. It’s “Murphy's' Law”: It's just a matter of time, the more you travel, the more likely it is that something will go wrong.
Without the ability to deal with the unexpected, there is no doubt you will in fact have a horrible experience.
And while not everyone is good at it, adaptability is skill you can learn, and traveling is a great way to do it.
In fact, the longer you are gone, the more you learn to deal with unexpected situations.
You need to know thyself, though. It’s OK to start at your comfort level. Maybe jumping in headfirst isn’t the best idea, although that is kinda what I had to do. Most of my travels began and ended solo as I would meet up with fellow agents from various parts of the country in destination to do training. There were other times I was solo all the way. There are a lot of alternatives that will allow you to dip slowly into the pool of travel. Maybe you should travel with a group of family or friends. But whatever it is, you need to get out on the road first!
Many things will happen to you while you travel — some good, some bad, some in between. No matter what, though, if you aren’t open to the experience, you will always be longing for home. You’ll have a miserable time and won’t be able to enjoy the cultures you are in.
And then, as you adapt, you learn the ying to adaptability’s yang: patience. I over time had developed a lack of patience. In this day and age it seems we have no time for distractions. So when I first started traveling, I was frequently annoyed. I wanted people to get out of my way — I had things to do and see. As a traveler, it’s important to develop patience. Flights get cancelled or delayed, luggage gets lost, one gets sick.
You didn’t come this far to get frustrated and turn around. You came to see the world, relax, and escape the high-pressure life back home. When you find yourself getting impatient and irritated, think: “I’m on vacation. Every day is Saturday. What’s the rush?” Take a deep breath and put things in perspective — you have nothing but time.
One of the things I’ve learned on the road is that things always resolve themselves and in the moment things appear a lot worse than they are most times. Just relax, smile, and wait — your problem will work itself out. I got stuck (along with everyone on my flight) waiting a whole hour at the luggage carousal in Toronto for my bags before they were released by customs. I then had to run like crazy to make my connecting flight (last flight of the day) to get home and just made it and oh I left my tablet at security because I was in such a hurry :( I could have been really annoyed and irritated (I'll admit I was a little frustrated), but what good would that have done...none.
So.... Relax. Adapt. Breathe.
And remember, these travel skills are ones you can use on and off the road — the ability to roll with the punches will be useful anywhere.