Sarah Cairns, our guest contributor talks about her experience in Japan and other countries, when her well laid holiday plans simply went south! But the lady did not let the glitch spoil her holiday. She took it all in stride and with style! How she did it and what really happened.....here she gives us all the awesome details!
When Plan A doesn't work!
It happens to the best of us. You book your trip months in advance and spend hours poring over guide books, dreaming of all those amazing things you’ll see and do. But when you get there… not everything goes the way you would have wanted them to. The weather turns against you, things go wrong, plans change, so on and forth. So what do you do? Lock yourself away in your hotel room to sulk? Or, accept that the situation may not be ideal and enjoy yourself anyway? After all, you’re still in a new and wonderful place.
Six years ago I booked a trip to Japan, just me and my backpack. For three weeks I toured the country, ticking every box on my to-do list. Soon there was one experience left, pictured on the very cover of my travel guide- Mount Fuji.
What I didn’t know is that it is more likely to NOT see the iconic peak than to actually see it. When I arrived at Kawaguchiko, a popular town for getting a great view of Mt Fuji, I was greeted instead by a wall of cloud. Not even an outline of the mountain could be seen. Was I disappointed? Of course! Was I going to let it spoil my adventure, or even my day? Never!!
I went to the tourist information desk and found out everything I could about the area to fill my day with other activities. I went on a scenic gondola ride to the top of a neighboring mountain where I took a photo to poke fun at the situation. I also had the best bowl of Udon noodles I’ve ever had in a cozy restaurant. In the afternoon, as the rain came in, I took shelter indoors at an onsen, a Japanese bathhouse where I had a much needed pamper and relax. Turned out, it was exactly what I needed after all the hustle and bustle of the rest of my trip. Although it wasn’t the day I would have planned for myself initially, I had an absolute blast.
Time for Plan B- How to make it work for you against all odds!
Poor weather is a big culprit behind derailed travel plans, and can make your day downright uncomfortable. Before you grumble too loudly about the hand fate has dealt you, remember just how much you still have at your fingertips to make the most of your chosen destination.
If the outdoors is too miserable to bear, journey inside and you can still get an authentic look into the local culture. Museums can save a rainy day. Whether its history, art or anything in between, there’s bound to be something to hold your attention for the afternoon. You will appreciate the shelter and who knows, you might just expand your mind and horizons absorbing the knowledge, sights and smells!
How about seeking out some local music? May be the modern beats or a more traditional sound? You’re sure to find a gig that will suit your taste and make for a memorable experience.
Food lovers don’t need sunshine to enjoy a great meal. So why not find a great local restaurant with character and make your lunch into an event? Maybe even partake in a couple glasses of wine to liven up your dampened spirits. Go on, indulge, you’re on holiday!
Why not use your time abroad to learn a new skill? Many countries offer cooking classes to tourists, and the best part is you get to eat it all at the end! Or, perhaps learn to Salsa in Cuba or Tango in Argentina? Just think, when you get home you can impress everyone with your newfound talents.
And if there is still something you just HAVE to see and only have a short window to experience it, rain or shine… go for it! It may not be exactly the way you pictured it would be, but it will always be your experience nonetheless. Enjoy it, savour it. Look, on the bright side, maybe the weather will scare off most of the crowds and you’ll get more of it to yourself.
Outlook is Everything
The one thing we truly have any power over is our own attitude. So when forces outside of your control start to derail your plans, regain some control by keeping your outlook positive. Remember, you’re where you are to enjoy yourself! So appreciate it anyway. When I was in Norway, my travel companion and I took a scenic ferry through the fjords. Every day leading up to this was clear and sunny but on that particular day the clouds rolled in and the rain descended. “I just knew it would rain,” she moaned, “I was looking forward to today the most and now it’s ruined!” I had to disagree with her, I put on my raincoat and stood out on the deck anyway and drank in the atmosphere. There was something about the clouds and the murkiness that gave the scenery a moody, mystical feel. I shivered away while still enjoying the beauty framed in a haze of mist. Now I ask you, who had the better day?
Be sure to be open to surprises. If a tour has been cancelled or activity has gone wrong, this is your opportunity to discover something you weren’t expecting. Your “Plan B” can always turn out to be your favorite memory from your trip, even more so because it came out of the blue to surprise you!
Don’t forget to pack your sense of humor! There’s no better way to liven up a bad situation than to laugh it off. Nothing will ever feel that terrible once it’s behind you, so try and find the funny side of things now. Laugh along with the locals about communication gaps. Tease yourself about mistakes. Maybe even take a picture of the low points just as you would the highlights and you’ll look back one day and chuckle.
On a group holiday to Iceland, we ran into an undesirable turn of events – and a snow bank! Out in the middle of nowhere, our rental got stuck and we had no choice but to spend three hours digging it out. Yes, we were freezing and exhausted when it was all over, but once we were in the safety of our warm cottage we all had a good laugh about it. Years later, we still reminisce about the time we got stranded in the snow. Even more so than anything else we did that week!
Leave Room for Second Chances
Oh yeah, six years later I returned to Japan. This time the sky was clear and I got an amazing view of Mt Fuji, with a fresh powdering of snow at the top! Just goes to show, you can always go for it again. Even the most disappointing experiences are never the end of the world, or your travel dreams!
So here was a wonderful account of events in face of unexpected twists and turns. So next time you are on a holiday and things don't go the way you planned them, just lighten up and jump to plan B. Don't have a plan B? Just make it up as you go. But before we go here is a small introduction to lovely Sarah J Cairns!
With two passports to her name, Sarah calls both Canada and the UK home. For now she resides in beautiful Vancouver, BC where she writes and dreams of her next adventure. A true nomadic spirit, with a collection of fridge magnets from 147 places from across the globe - and counting! You can follow Sarah'sadventures on Twitter : @sarahjcairns and Instagram: @sarah.j.cairns.