What do you do when things don't go as planned during travel?

Before I continue with the destination posts about where we've been and what we've seen so far, I think it's important to have a conversation about how to deal with some of the hard things that can occur when traveling abroad.

No matter how well-traveled you are, things will go wrong. Sometimes big things, sometimes small things. We all try to plan for the big things and make smart decisions along the way to prevent them from happening (i.e., not losing your passport, driving safe, buying good insurance, making good choices about eating & drinking, etc.), but I always find that it's the small things that stress me out the most and they often catch me by surprise.

This trip we've had a number of things "go wrong."

1. We got completely lost in London and didn't want to take a cab and got caught in the Tube Strike drama. We took a bus instead, but took the wrong bus, in the wrong direction and didn't realize it until we were nearly an hour away from our flat. Then we were very lost but couldn't use cellular data and there was no Wifi nearby. And no one knew where our borough was. And I had to go to the bathroom... real bad.

2. Discovering while trying to withdraw cash that our banks shut down our ATM cards, even though we called them ahead of time to notify them of our travels. And it was the weekend so we couldn't reach them until Monday, leaving us without cash for a few days...

3. Getting lost a few times while driving and having our GPS just quit on us while trying to navigate the Autobahn at 140 km/h...

4. Stepping onto a completely jam-packed cable car at 8,000 feet in the air that says "maximum 80 people," being crammed like sardines, someone bringing their barking dog on the tram, loud drunk people shoving each other, bad B.O., stale air and a guy asking if he could sit where I was because he was going to be sick. Um...

5. Lack. of. sleep. Jet lag, noisy neighbors, hard mattresses, dude barfing outside our window in the night...

6. Getting to a hotel in the Alps, only to discover that it is completely bare bones, has dirty sheets, a shared bathroom and shower, flies EVERYWHERE (in the room, on our food, on our bed, everywhere. Swarms.), creaky floors, people not respecting quiet hour, people serenading the animals with a guitar right outside our window, loud Americans, parties, and realizing very quickly that this is a hiking town and I am not a hiker...

7. Missing English and realizing that I've taken for granted the ability to read a menu, a sign, a newspaper, having a conversation in English and not having to remember what country I'm in and how to say, "May I please have..." without embarrassing myself.

8. SLOW WIFI WHEN I NEED TO PAY BILLS OR CONFIRM A HOTEL RESERVATION...

9. Blistering blisters on my heels, miles from your hotel...


These may seem like insignificant and trivial things and in reality they are, but when you are daily trying to figure out where a bathroom is, where a restaurant is, what they are serving, how to find a bank, where to get a coffee, where to park your car, and you are very tired in the process, they suddenly become very big things. The mistake I've made in the past is trying to just put up with all of it and muscle through all of it and be tough about all of it, and then have a big emotional breakdown because it makes me even more tired and stressed out in the process. And then I am miserable and not enjoying the experience of travel and getting lost and solving problems and experiencing the great joy of new discoveries.

What we've been intentional about is to slooooooooow down. If you've been following us, we've been going at a really rapid pace for the past 2 1/2 weeks. I wouldn't change that for anything. But that kind of pace also makes you very tired and it's nearly impossible to keep it up for 7 weeks. So before we even started this trip, I built in "vacation stretches," where instead of checking in and out of hotels every 1 - 2 days, we have hotel stays booked for 5 - 6 nights at a time in a few resort destinations. Looking forward to those stretches of time has kept me motivated to muscle through some of the tired moments and stressful times of sleepless nights and confusion in different countries. We've also tried to take breaks in the middle of the day instead of feeling like we need to go, go, go and see everything all day.

But, even with the built in breaks, when we came to this hotel in the Alps tonight it, enough was enough for me. I've been tough through a lot of this trip and been challenged and outside my comfort zone in a lot of ways, and I was really, really looking to a quiet and peaceful haven in the Alps. This is not that. We had three nights booked here and while staying here would be the logical choice that most people would make, even if it was uncomfortable, it was just too much for me.

So, I had a breaking point. I made a mistake and booked a bad hotel, and I also desperately need a good, quiet night's sleep because I am tired. I need to recharge my batteries for the remaining 4 weeks of our trip. There was no way I could stay here with the flies swarming above my face and the partiers below our window and the stomping above my head, even though I have a gorgeous view of the Alps outside my room. And thankfully I have a patient and understanding husband, because even though it sounds silly and superficial, it was too much for me. Overseas travel can be very exhausting and sometimes you have to give yourself permission, no matter the cost, to add a little bit of comfort when you desperately need it... so, we're cutting this stop short and leaving tomorrow morning. Onto new experiences. :)

This might sound like a negative post, but at the same time, it's important to be real. Overseas travel is incredible and we love it SO much. But at the same time, you've got to be prepared for when the stressful things occur, and give yourself whatever kind of break or creature comfort you need in those moments, even if it means holing up in your hotel room for an afternoon to watch American TV in front of a fan and eat pizza while you're in Germany... ;)


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