Why It's Good to Have Your Travel Plans Go Wrong

by Tausha Cowan in


Hi, my name is Tausha, and I am a control freak. That means I dislike — actually, more like hate — when my plans go wrong. I feel off balance, a little anxious and frustrated that something I had put time, effort and thought into did not work out the way I had envisioned, nor can it be controlled. As I get older, I have come to realize that there are very few times in life when things go exactly as planned, especially when traveling. I can't even bake a cake and have that turn out flawlessly, so how can I expect travel, something that has so many external variables, to always go right? It doesn't.

I can't even bake a cake and have that turn out flawlessly, so how can I expect travel, something that has so many external variables, to always go right? It doesn't.

Case in point: my family and I recently went on vacation in Europe, where we spent a week visiting several cities in Germany and Italy. Prior to our trip, I spent days looking at vacation rentals to find the perfect apartments in Venice, Milan and Rome. After carefully reading reviews, studying photos of apartments and looking at the locations of the accommodations, I chose three places I felt would be perfect. With everything booked and finalized, off we went to Europe, where we would spend our first two nights at a vacation rental in Venice. But, of course, things did not go as planned. To make a long story short, we were never able to get a hold of the owner after multiple attempts at communication, and we had to cancel despite the strict cancellation policy. 

This was one of the best things to happen. 

Why? Because, after a last minute scramble to find a new place to stay, we ended up in a BEAUTIFUL, recently opened 16th century palazzo with a tranquil garden in a quiet and charming part of Venice. It was one of my favorite parts of our vacation, and it would not have happened had our original plans gone wrong.


Though I realize my family's particular situation was a fortunate one, I do think it's good for travel plans to occasionally go wrong. Not anything big or crucial, of course. More like the non-crucial mishap. Here are a few reasons why I think so:

It Helps You Think On Your Feet
I have lost count of the number of times something unexpected has occurred while traveling, and I have had to think fast about what to do next. There's the time I accidentally booked the wrong days for my hotel in Germany (I arrived after the days I booked), the time my family lost my mom at a train station in India, the numerous times my luggage went missing and many, many other travel mishaps in between. In all situations, I have had to quickly assess how to respond and move forward. There's been no other option but to figure it out, which has helped me not only in other areas of my personal life but in my professional life as well. 

The Unplanned Sometimes Turns Out Better Than the Planned
Sometimes a travel plan gone wrong can be a blessing in disguise. My family's recent situation in Venice is a great example of the unplanned turning out better than the planned. When I later looked at reviews of the apartment we were supposed to stay in, a new review indicated that the apartment was not as good as advertised. This less than stellar write up proved that my family and I had lucked out by not being able to reach the owner. An initially worrying situation ended with us staying in a place that charmed us from the moment we stepped through the front door of the hotel.   

It Teaches You to Make the Best of a Situation
At times it can be very disappointing to not have something go the way you wanted it to, but these situations urge you to make the best of your circumstances. In the fall of 2013, my mom and I went to Phoenix, where we planned to take a tour of the Grand Canyon at the end of our stay. Unfortunately, our trip landed right in the middle of the government shutdown, which closed ALL national parks in the U.S., including the Grand Canyon. With our tour already booked and paid for, we were unsure what we should do next. Fortunately, our tour company was able to take us on an off-roading tour of Sedona, where we had a fun, adventure-filled experience. We made the best of the situation and had a great time. 

It Makes You Appreciate the Things That Go Right
The biggest thing I've realized from dealing with travel mishaps is that I'm so grateful for the things that DO go right, which are many. Perhaps a flight is delayed or has bad turbulence, both of which are not ideal scenarios, but at least I made it safely to my destination. Perhaps the weather is unexpectedly bad and I have to change my plans; there are still other great experiences to be had indoors. When some travel plans go wrong, it's certainly upsetting and aggravating but it doesn't mean everything has gone wrong. Dealing with my travel mishaps have given me perspective, perhaps not at the moment they occur, but at some point I realize some things may have gone wrong but there was a lot that went right. 

So, do I hope for some of my travel plans to go wrong in the future? No, but they still will, and I'll deal with it when the time comes. C'est la vie.

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