Travel Scars (or, How To Enjoy The Trip Even When Things Go Wrong)


After my post last week about my epic connection at Charles de Gaulle, my sister sent me this wonderful quote:

“Let the tourist be cushioned against misadventure; but your true traveler will not feel that he has had his money’s worth unless he brings back a few scars.”

- Lawrence Durrell

Now, I would prefer not to return from my travels with actual scars (I have enough of those), but metaphorically this is a brilliant sentiment. Sure, it might be more relaxing if all our travels went exactly according to a minute-by-minute plan. But the most memorable parts of our travels are usually the unanticipated, surprising, and definitely unplanned things that happen to us along the way – and they make the rest of the trip more memorable as well. I probably wouldn’t remember a thing about my brief stay in Basel, if not for that excitement during the trip home.

Of course, when you’re in the midst of a travel-planning-breakdown, it’s cold comfort to think, “Hey! This will make a great story later.” So how do you get through the rough patches and carry on, when it feels like your trip is going to you-know-where in a hand basket?

Ah, but you know the answer already: It’s all in the attitude. Stay positive is Rule #1, but I’d expand that to say that you have to start positive. Before you set foot outside your house, you have to put yourself in the frame of mind that your travels will be easy, effortless, and enjoyable (what I call the “3E’s”), and that no matter what happens, it’s going to be great. If you, like many people, experience some degree of travel anxiety (even I do sometimes), make the 3E’s your mantra, and say them until you believe them.

It’s remarkable what a shift a positive attitude creates. When you’re expecting things to go well, they will – and not even because they actually, objectively go well (though they might), but because you’re viewing everything that happens from a better perspective. A two-hour flight delay becomes a chance to treat yourself to a good meal before you get on the plane. A downpour in Paris is an excuse to have a second cup of hot chocolate in a cozy café. A missed train leads you to find the most adorable boutique hotel ever. And so on.

Just put on your rose-colored glasses, embrace the things that go awry, and return from your vacation a true traveler.

And the next time I wish you bon voyage, know that what I’m really saying is this: Travel well, but bring home a few scars.

Photo Credit: Thanks to Susan Dods for capturing this moment of terror/joy!


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