If I had to guess, these are ten reasons why your last vacation wasn’t what you hoped it would be. I know we’ve all made endless travel mistakes, and sometimes we run into things that just aren’t under our control. If these things haven’t happened to you on a trip yet, either you haven’t traveled much or you’re a very easy-going person! These things don’t have to make you hate your vacation, but sometimes they do. Some of these things can be avoided, and some of them can’t. However, you can decide how you’re going to deal with these situations, which can make or break a vacation.
1. Driving time took a lot longer than Google maps said. So Google maps said an hour right? I wish I had a dollar for every time this has happened. We quickly realized driving in Ecuador that if the GPS said 1 hour, it was actually going to be 2 hours. Once you realize that you have to account for driving behind farmer’s trucks, and 15 mph dirt roads, it’s a lot easier to deal. Or when we were driving in Yosemite, the traffic was so bad a 20 minute trip actually was going to be an hour. So my recommendation is don’t be so naive as to trust Google maps. They do a great job, but you’ll be sorely disappointed if you’re in Miami and it says 5 minutes, but really it’s an hour. Google maps driving time is not to be trusted with your life.
2. Everyone was hungry and the food was terrible. Add this one to the fact that Google maps said “20 minutes” and now it’s an hour and everyone is in the car starving. Plus, you didn’t research restaurants, so you have to wander around, finding parking trying to get to a restaurant. You pick the first place you find and it’s terrible. Don’t let this happen to you. PACK SNACKS. And plan your food accordingly. Do not let hanger on your vacation with you.
3. The weather didn’t cooperate. There is not much to do about this except do research on your weather ahead of time. If you’re going somewhere in the USA in Spring, most likely it’s going to be rainy. So if you’re upset that it’s March and 5 out of 6 days is rain, well, there’s not much that can be helped. Maybe you went in June and were shocked with a storm that couldn’t be avoided. However, be prepared if you’re going somewhere during a time when bad weather is to be expected. Have a rainy day plan. If you have all outdoor things scheduled, you’ll be real disappointed. At least have a few places you can go if weather isn’t ideal.
4. You went with people that didn’t have the same vacation philosophy as you do. This one is hard to find out unless you ask a lot of questions ahead of time. If you’re planning a trip and you are interested in sleeping in and staying in the whole time, and the people you’re planning with keep talking about “waking up at 6 a.m. to make it across town to the museum,” you’re probably going to have a frustrating vacation. Make sure you’re all on the same page. If you can’t in good conscience do what everyone wants to do, that’s OK. Everyone has a different vacation style. Try to plan vacations with people who are flexible or into what you’re into. It makes it a lot easier on everyone.
5. Your sleeping accommodations kept you up all night. Cheap accommodations usually mean cheap beds with thin walls. That way you can toss and turn all night, and hear the kegger going on in the room next door. If you’re a light sleeper, you may need to shell out some extra money to make sure you get a good night’s rest. Or if you have back problems, or any other issues that could make sleeping anywhere but home difficult for you. What kind of vacation is it if you get 3 hours of sleep every night and are Mr./Mrs. Cranky Pants the whole time?
6. You didn’t think all that traveling would make you tired and cranky. So you thought 20 hours in the airport would be fine because after all, you’re not doing anything but resting. The fact is, though, it’s not rest. Not real rest. Waking up to let someone next to you go to the bathroom, getting shook around by the turbulence, and being woken up for pretzels every hour isn’t exactly “relaxing.” Traveling takes it out of you. You’ll need rest from all your restless time on the plane.
7. Your airline lost your bags. You thought all that “packing light” and only bringing a carry-on nonsense was for everyone else. Until, you went to baggage claim and waited for 30 minutes… that turned into 60 minutes… and your bag never came. Then you get to fill out paperwork for another hour, after you’ve waited in a long line with the people whose bags also got lost. This is when you finally realize that airline employees actually aren’t thinking, “This Joe guy… I’m really going to make sure he gets his bag and this doesn’t get screwed. After all, it’s his vacation.” Next time, just bring the carry-on.
8. That site you wanted to see was under renovation. Oh man. This is the worst. I’ve missed out on a museum in Paris because it was under strike. I missed a museum in Rome because it was under renovation. This is a huge bummer. Sometimes you can look it up and double-check, and sometimes you’re in for a rude awakening. I should have looked this up ahead of time, but alas, I didn’t. And I was rudely awoken.
9. You were sick. You sat next to Typhoid Mary on the plane and walked away with a nasty cold. Or, you already had a cold and the plane clogged up your ears so you can’t hear anything. Or maybe, you get food poisoning and the hotel doesn’t have air conditioning… and it’s 90 degrees. Or maybe you have to spend the week in a hospital getting your kidney stones treated. Or maybe you get an infection and you’re there for two months. Every single one of these are real things that have happened to people I actually know. (I was the one with the clogged ears and actually had to pour water up my nose to try to get my ears to pop.) These things suck. And there is really no way around it. Sickness can really take the winds out of the sails.
10. The vacation just wasn’t long enough. All that travel time made you tired and by the time you felt like you could finally relax, the vacation was over. This is hard because sometimes you only have a few days for vacation and there is really nothing you can do about it. I recommend doing whatever you have to to get into vacation mode. Maybe cancel your plans the day before you leave and start early. With busy lives we live right now, getting relaxed takes time. Pretend that you’re on the beach: make a Pina Colada and turn on Island music on Pandora. Don’t let your vacation come and go. Do what you have to to prepare yourself for a relaxing time.