You’ve probably had this experience before: someone tells you about some novel, exotic destination, and suddenly you have it on the brain — which is just as well since that means you’re excited to go. As a result, you start imagining all the beautiful things that will happen when you finally get there. You might be giddy with excitement at the prospect of meeting people from all over the world and eating foods from different cultures. You might even fantasize about exploring ancient ruins or famous beaches.
In your mind’s eye, traveling to this new destination is a sort of idyllic experience that will improve you somehow and make you a better person. Maybe it will give you a new perspective on life or shed light on the world’s problems. Maybe it will just be an incredible cultural experience. But whatever the reason, your “dream trip” will be one magical adventure where all of your expectations are met and exceeded.
But then you get there and — sorry to be the bearer of bad news — but this is pretty much never how things go. Sometimes everything goes more or less according to plan, but you will often encounter some obstacles. Some people might argue that this is because we’re all the same. So we can’t help but unconsciously impose our own cultural biases on another culture, which will regularly clash with your expectations, causing you to have certain preconceived notions about what will happen.
Or maybe it has something to do with how all of us are creatures of habit, so we see what we expect to see. At any rate, you really can’t ever escape the fact that travel is filled with setbacks — and sometimes they’re even more disheartening than you had expected. For example:
- You’ll buy a plane ticket, and the day before your flight, you’ll get an email saying that there’s been a delay or cancellation, and now you have to wait a couple of days longer than you thought.
- You’ll arrive at a hostel and find out that the person who has been staying there has left — and so now you have to find a new place to stay, but you don’t speak the language and you don’t know what the cost will be or whether your credit card will work.
- You’ll be trying to find a good place to eat, and you see steamed buns or a fruit vendor or something, and you think, “I wish I hadn’t spent so much money on my hostel buffet because that would be so perfect for lunch!” And then you go home disappointed and realize that you don’t know what the appeal of food from street vendors is anyway.
- You’ll get to a beach and spend an hour figuring out how to rent a chair, which turns out to cost more than you thought. And then it will rain, and you won’t be able to swim.
- You’ll be on the subway, and the train will stop for no apparent reason, and suddenly, everyone around you is on their phone trying to figure out what’s going on. The internet will be down, many people will get off to make a phone call, and you’ll be stuck on the train for an hour longer than you expected.
Now, we’re not trying to say that you shouldn’t expect anything but to remind you that sometimes things will not go according to plan — and there are many reasons why that might happen.
Sometimes things will not go according to plan — and there are many reasons why that might happen.
Planning Accordingly To Avoid Mishaps
One way to deal with the fact that things never go according to plan is to be pleasantly surprised when things do. Like the time I had a one month holiday in South Korea, which turned out to be one of the best trips I’ve ever taken — and yet what I was most excited about before stepping on the airplane was buying a new pair of shoes at a local outlet store before leaving.
Sure, I knew it probably wouldn’t turn out that way. But because I had planned, it turned out great anyway.
A lot of people think this kind of thing is crazy. They don’t think it’s worth the trouble and effort to plan. Maybe you didn’t even go on the trip with that much confidence in it in the first place, even though you went out of your way to be prepared. It just seems like the more time you spend trying to plan, the less likely it is that things will turn out as you want them to. And if things don’t work out as you think they should, you’ll feel terrible about getting your hopes up in the first place.
But another thing that’s important to remember is this: making sure everything goes according to plan doesn’t mean that things are guaranteed to go well.
Good luck and safe travels.