Expectations Can Make or Break a Trip
We spend days or even months planning for the perfect vacation, then we get to our destination and something inevitably goes “wrong.”
Maybe it rains when we planned to be at the beach, or maybe someone gets sick. Maybe our kids would rather swim at the hotel pool than wait in line for the rides at Disneyland, even though we paid good money for those tickets!
Is our vacation a failure? Of course not! We can always enjoy the good moments, and even learn to laugh at the hard times. Our expectations can make a huge difference, and travel troubles need not ruin our vacation.
We know that life is messy and that our days often don’t go as planned and we’ve (hopefully!) learned to deal with that. But for some reason we expect our vacations to be different, to be all sunshine and rainbows.
We expect our kids to be happy the whole time. We expect ourselves to be happy the whole time.
But that’s not realistic.
If you travel much at all, you will surely experience some rough trips. If you leave on a trip expecting some things to go wrong or some things to be hard, then you can take the rough times in stride and really savor the good moments. You can leave with wonderful memories.
For example, I looked forward to our trip to Gdansk, Poland for a long time, and I put a lot of thought into preparing for it. My husband and I spent hours researching where we wanted to visit, what we wanted to eat there, and where we should stay. I even made a book for our kids about some of the sights we would see and their history. We practiced saying the Polish words for “hello” and “thank you.”
On the evening before our flight from Norway to Poland, we checked our email and found out that the apartment we had reserved in Gdansk was no longer available. The boiler had fallen off the wall and needed major repairs. Our Airbnb host had booked us a different apartment, but we weren’t excited about the new place. It was just outside of Gdansk’s beautiful Old Town instead of right on Mariacka Street. The furnishings were old and tired, the fridge was broken, and we couldn’t use the microwave.
On top of that, I had a cold that was quickly turning nasty–fever, sore throat, the works. I didn’t have any cold medicine with me, and I didn’t know what to buy at the Polish pharmacy. And two of my kids were also feeling sick.
On our first day in Poland I was tired, grumpy, sick, and so disappointed.
I texted my sister that night and lamented about our situation. She responded with some wisdom that has stuck in my mind ever since. It has really helped me stay positive through some difficult times at home and abroad.
Here’s what she said:
“The whole vacation doesn’t have to be wonderful, just look for the good moments and let that be enough. Good moments together, good moments alone–it’s all okay. You’re trying to create a wonderful experience that will leave wonderful memories, and even that trying can be celebrated.”
It was just what I needed to hear. Everything didn’t have to be perfect, or just what I had planned, in order for us to have a memorable and amazing vacation.
Good Times and Good Memories
My attitude adjustment made all the difference.
When I look back now on our time in Poland, I remember the struggles of course. But I also remember the time when it started snowing and our kids were catching snowflakes in their mouths. I remember watching my kids delighted faces as pigeons ate crumbs out of their hands on Dlugi Targ. I remember the delicious taste of pear ice cream from the grocery store.
Those memories, and many others, are enough, and I know our trip was a success.
So when you encounter difficult times on your next vacation, look for the good moments and let them be enough. There will always be good moments, ones that you will want to remember for a long time.
What hard things have you experienced during your travels, and are you able to look back on those trips now with some good memories? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.