If you spend a few minutes perusing travel blogs or travel-focused Instagram feeds, you’ll get the sense that travel is all about bliss, total relaxation, beautiful scenery and powerful moments of personal reflection. And it can be all of these things, but there are also times when travel is a little less glamorous.
Maybe you get your passport stolen, you get sick, you misread your itinerary and miss your flight by twelve hours (true story) or there’s black mold in your hotel shower (true story). Bad stuff happens during travel, and it can feel infinitely more difficult to handle these speed bumps when you’re traveling solo.
On a recent trip, I had my laptop and cell phone stolen, and I hadn’t even been in the country for 12 hours. I spent an entire day of my vacation filing a police report and looking for a replacement computer. Then, the next day, a taxi driver dropped me off at the wrong bus station, and I missed my bus to my next destination. A few days later, the replacement computer I had purchased stopped working, and I had to take it back and ask for a new one.
This was definitely not the vacation I had imagined; it seemed like everything was going wrong. But it was a reminder that the difficult parts of travel are just as important as the good stuff. They test your resilience, force you to be adaptable and teach you how to be resourceful.
Here are some solo travel tips for what to do when it feels like everything is going wrong.
Take a Day to Recover
You probably have big plans for your trip: hiking, exploring, laying by the beach, eating copious amounts of food. When something happens that throws your trip off, don’t be too hard on yourself about sticking to your original itinerary. It’s okay to take a day to relax and recuperate. Maybe that means watching TV or reading in your hotel room––whatever allows you to chill out and press the ‘reset’ button.
You might also need to take a day to address whatever came up. Try not to get too caught up in losing some of your travel time. When I was in Ecuador, I was pretty annoyed that I had to spend a whole day filing a police report and walking around a mall looking for a new computer. But it was just one day, and once that stuff was out of the way, I was still able to have an amazing, relaxing vacation.
Reach Out to Someone Who Will Listen to You Complain
We all have someone we call when things go wrong––someone who will listen to us complain and still want to talk to us afterwards. If things start to go wrong while you’re traveling, reach out to that person. Don’t feel ashamed to spend some time complaining about your bad luck. You need the support, and it will give you a nice boost of energy.
Remind Yourself That It’s Not the End of the World
Cameras, cell phones, laptops and jewelry can be replaced. If you miss a flight, you can take another one. Sure, it sucks to have things stolen or to pay extra for a new flight, but none of this is that bad. It can all be fixed. So, when things start to go wrong, and maybe you even feel like calling it quits and heading back home (I know I’ve been there), remind yourself that it really isn’t the end of the world. You probably need a little dose of perspective.
Also, take some time now––before things go wrong––to make sure you are well-prepared for the speed bumps you may encounter while traveling:
- Do you have travel insurance? Many credit cards offer insurance for goods purchased with the card, including technology and plane tickets. But these types of protection plans often only apply to purchases made within the past few months, so you should also look into a basic travel insurance plan. Nomadic Matt a great guide on how to purchase travel insurance.
- Do you have receipts saved for the technology and jewelry you travel with? This will make things a lot easier if you do need to file an insurance claim.
- Do you have a luggage lock? When you’re traveling on buses or walking in crowded public spaces, it’s a good idea to use a luggage lock and/or a small lock on your backpack. If you’re just carrying a purse, keep it in front of your body and make sure it has a zipper that allows you to close it all the way.
Recently, I came across a quote that perfectly sums up the best possible attitude to have when you’re traveling solo and things start to go wrong:
When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile. — Author Unknown