“If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.” -Proverbs 24:10
Ah, good ol’ adversity. Us travelers know you all too well. Non-travelers view our Instagram’s and think “How wonderful their life must be! How lucky they are! How glamorous it all looks!” Yes, it is wonderful. Yes, we are blessed. And yes, it can be glamorous. But oh, my friends, how ugly it can be. Hans Christian Anderson pinned one of the most famous travel quotes today. “To travel is to live”. We have all seen it, and we have all quoted it. But if travel is to live, then travel is to also fail. And face adversity. And hopefully look back on it and laugh. Proverbs 24:10 shows us not to faint in times of trial and adversity, but to grow in our strength, to grow in God. Now, obviously there are far greater trials than a bad travel day. But the premise remains the same, keep the faith, carry on for His glory, and never let the adversary win. God puts obstacles in our way to grow us. And I truly believe that even in the smallest of times (a bus station in London, a portable bathroom in Iceland, or a beach in Florida) He is guiding us towards Christ-likeness. How you respond in times of trials is one of the biggest shows of faith that you have. Let your light shine. Even when you are soaked, hungry, have a migraine, and want to cry in a foreign country.
So, for you non-travelers (and seasoned veterans) I have a special post for you today. Some of my not so serious travel fails. I am very blessed that I’ve never experienced anything truly terrible while traveling. I have heard from other bloggers who have experienced the worst things and I honestly don’t know how I would respond in those situations. But for the sake of lightheartedness, I want to show the world that traveling is not always rainbows, butterflies, and perfectly edited photos. What you see online is just a glimpse of what it is like to travel. Let’s begin, as I share with you some of my favorite travel blunders.
Spring Training 2014
The trip that started it all, Braves Spring Training with my little sister. We road tripped it from Atlanta to Orlando to spend a few days, and I am surprised I ever wanted to travel again after this trip! Let’s start with our hotel. We left after work and drove to Jacksonville to stay. The next morning, we woke up and drove to Cocoa Beach to spend a few hours, before driving into Orlando to check into our hotel. When we arrived at our hotel we were exhausted. We have two days of activities planned and needed our beauty sleep. So, we settled in and went to bed. Now, this is the part of the story that you skim over if you are squeamish or you know, hate bugs. It was in the wee hours of the morning I noticed something crawling ALL OVER MY PILLOW. I jumped out of bed and noticed my sister, in her bed, with a look of horror on her face. The bugs were literally on her. ON HER. Ladies and gentlemen, we are experiencing a bed bug infestation. Now disclaimer, this was the first trip (besides a few weekends away after high school) that I had ever truly planned. I researched the hotel, I read reviews, I knew what bed bugs were… and it still happened. This was well before my travel obsession kicked in. Luckily, we were able to move rooms and the bugs did not move with us.
If you think this was the only fail on this trip, well you are wrong. Fast forward to our last day in Orlando, the day we get to go to a Braves Spring Training game. I grew up watching every single Braves game. My mom was a huge fan, and I played softball which allowed me a bit of knowledge on the subject. This was also circa 2013 when they became National League Champions and had players I felt like were worth watching. I was excited. Now, if you know me, you know I have fair skin and am borderline allergic to the sun. I lathered up and sprayed myself in sunscreen and headed to the field. It was about an hour into the game that I realized a tank top was not the best idea. If I don’t reapply every twenty minutes, I fry. And I was frying, so much so that we had to leave early so I could go to the car and reapply. By this time, I was scorched. When I was 14 I had sun poisoning and the skin on my back and chest is especially sensitive to the sun, and this was no exception. An hour in the sun led to the second worst sun burn I have ever had. No amount of aloe would help. The 8-hour drive back into Atlanta was the absolute worst 8 hours of my life (I exaggerate a bit, but it was miserable). You would think I knew better, but I can guarantee I never leave the house without sunscreen now (and I basically just stay out of the sun). Bed bugs and sun burn, isn’t travel lovely?! After all of that, this is probably the trip that sparked the small flame of my wanderlust. And one of my favorite memories.
My next trip, Colonial Williamsburg with my mom. What could go wrong? Oh, maybe a bridge being closed that my GPS didn’t pick up. We are already 7 hours into our almost 9-hour drive, and we turn off towards the bridge that will cross the James River and bring us to our destination. We take a turn and drive almost an hour in the direction that my GPS (and Google Maps) suggested, and it hit me. Food poisoning. Nausea, upset stomach, headache, sweating, and cramping. And we were in the middle of nowhere. There wasn’t even a house in sight. I kept driving in hopes that close to the river or on the other side, I would find a gas station or CVS (maps was not showing any hope, but I was praying hard none the less). Now this is the part of the story that things get truly bad, imagine my surprise when I read the sign “bridge closed ahead”. If you are familiar with this area, you will know that my only option was to drive north towards Richmond and cross the river there in Hopewell, or all the way down to Carrolton. From where I was, either was an hour drive. And I had not seen a store in sight for almost that long. So off we go, while I was writhing in pain. We look back now at this story and laugh, because that is just my luck, but in the moment, there was nothing funny about it. But again, if you know me, you know I have a phobia of being nauseous and throwing up. I will do anything in my power to avoid it, and this was just not the time or place. Obviously, I survived, and found a store and some ginger ale. But it was a rough touch and go hour, and it could have ruined a whole trip. I mean, don’t I sound like the most glamorous traveler in the world??
This story is not as epic as the stories above, but it was utterly embarrassing. I had never flown before, never been out of the country, and never taken a solo trip. But I was in London, fresh off the plane, and headed towards the Hyde Park Christmas Market. I had a small amount of cash (British Pounds) on me, because as my research showed, the market was cash only. I headed towards the food court, found the most appetizing food I could find, and began to place my order (with a little anxiety after I hyped myself up “you can do this Laura!”). And guess what? The vendor I choose spoke only German. German! I choose England as my first international trip for a reason. THEY SPEAK ENGLISH. And who is my first interaction? A very nice German boy who must have thought I was insane. After I handed him a 20 Pound note, he kept asking me for exact change, but I just stood there in complete horror. I had no idea what he was saying. I tried my best to interpret and communicate. Finally, a nice lady from the vendor over came and gave him change to break my bill. I took my food and went far, far away to eat in shame. I felt so embarrassed. “If you are going to travel, you need to learn to handle these situations” I told myself. Anxious and embarrassed, I sat on a BROKEN picnic table with my German hotdog in hand. Said table almost launched me right back to the states. If the hotdog buying scenario wasn’t bad enough, here I am all alone, surrounded by couples, at a Christmas Market, in freezing temperatures, embarrassed and now literally on the ground. I managed to keep my food from spilling everywhere, got up quickly, and sat down as if nothing happened. But it obviously happened. The board was loose, and I sat on the wrong end, it was like a see-saw but not nearly as fun. It is times like this that traveling solo has its pros and cons. Pro, no one I know saw any of that happen. Con, no one I know saw any of that happen. How will anyone back home ever truly appreciate just how socially awkward I was if they didn’t see it? Travelers are so cultured and sophisticated, so they say. Never the less, this is the trip that started it all. And truly taught me to embrace the failures, because that is what travel is all about.
I hope you enjoyed these travel fails just as much as I enjoyed reliving them. And trust me, there are many more where these came from! I may even be lucky enough to talk some friends into letting me share their travel fails. So, there will definitely be a part 2 coming soon (and I am sure a part 3, 4, and 5 after my next trips!). So, tell me, have you ever had an epic travel fail? If so, share below! Help my ego feel a little better by knowing that I am not alone. There is power in numbers my friends, so let us unlucky and socially awkward travelers unite! If you want more awkwardness, follow me on IG and Twitter to know when a new post is up and as always, XOXO.