Social media often misleads people into thinking that travel is cheerful 24/7 but I’m here to tell you that that’s not so. This does not affect my love for travel in the least, but I want to paint a more balanced picture. Travel can quickly become stressful and induce anxiety. I’ll start with my story.
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What’s In This Article?
- How My Dream Trip Got Affected By A Jamaican Strike
- Life Happens When You’re Busy Making Plans
- Benefits of Travelling
- Seven Tips to Prevent Travel Stress
- Wrap Up
How My Dream Trip Got Affected By A Jamaican Strike
On my first international trip from Jamaica since the pandemic, I booked a trip with my partner to Machu Picchu in Peru. This was a bucket list item for us in many ways– first time travelling together internationally and our first time in South America. It was also my first time leaving North America, and my first of the world’s Seven Wonders. Therefore, this was a high stakes thoroughly planned trip and we were super excited.
However, the day we got to the Montego Bay airport for our departure, we sensed that something was off. There were a lot of travellers and little to no staff. Every now and again, we’d overhear whispers from the few staff present about a strike. Eventually we got a formal announcement confirming same. The Jamaican air traffic controllers had striked at our international airports in protest for new equipment and better wages. The workers felt as if they had exhausted every possible channel for months leading up to the strike– and the strike just had to coincide with our major trip for which we worked hard to carve 8 days off. To make matters worse, getting to Machu Picchu required a flight to Panama City, a connecting flight to Lima then a domestic flight to Cusco. We had the times of these 3 flights perfectly synced so that we would’ve arrived in Cusco 20 hours after leaving Jamaica, and then we left about another 20 hours to acclimatize in Cusco for a Palccoyo Mountain excursion. Palccoyo was one of our two major excursions in Peru, the other being Machu Picchu of course.
Long story short, we ended up having to find a place to spend the night in Montego Bay and rescheduling our domestic flight in Peru after getting confirmation of our new international flight times. This meant we had to cancel Palccoyo too, and I’m grateful that that refund was processed quickly. Also, we had to reschedule our hotel and airport transfers. Imagine having to do all these last minute adjustments after planning your dream trip down to the tee for months! The Montego Bay hotel stay and last minute domestic flight reschedule also costed us close to US$200 each, putting us over budget.
Life Happens When You’re Busy Making Plans
I shared my first travel misfortune of sorts to say: life happens when you’re busy making plans! As a firm believer in the fact that everything happens for a reason, I decided not to stay mad for long. Instead, I was just grateful I still got to go and remain grateful that I have reasonably good health and the means to travel!
There are lots of things which can go wrong while travelling including:
- Lost or delayed checked baggage– to avoid this problem, I travel light with a carry-on and backpack.
- Getting sick or injured abroad and needing to navigate the health care system in a foreign country
- Getting lost, worse if you don’t speak the native language fluently.
- Flight delays which can result in missing a connecting flight
- Getting scammed, robbed or pickpocketed
- Lost or stolen documents
- Hidden fees and going over budget
- Racism and prejudice
- Feeling drained during and after your vacation because of changing time zones, lots of travelling between different airports or different modes of transport. Also, if you like active vacations with lots of hiking or watersports, you may need a vacation after your vacation.
Benefits of Travelling
That being said, should this stop you from travelling and enjoying the benefits of travel? I think not.
- Travelling takes you out your comfort zone and challenges you to think on your feet.
- You get the fulfilling experience of meeting new cultures, food, music and sights.
- You meet new people which widen your view of the world.
- The memories and lessons you learn make for interesting stories and last for a lifetime.
Tips to Prevent Travel Stress
- Travel with only a carry-on and personal item. Not only do you save money by not having to check luggage, but this will allow you to move smoothly through the airport and prevent luggage mishaps like lost bags. You save time as well, which is very necessary for persons with connecting flights to catch and a short layover.
- Leave wiggle room in your travel itinerary. If you plan every day to a tee, it is more stressful to make adjustments if one of those excursions doesn’t go according to plan. Also, if you wind up getting ill or having jetlag, you’ll be happy you left free time in your schedule.
- Get a SIM in the country you’re visiting to allow you to get in touch with locals while there e.g. hotel reception, tour guides.
- Download an offline map such as from Google Maps, or obtain a physical map so you can gather your bearings and avoid getting lost.
- Travel with as few valuables as possible. That goes for expensive cameras, laptops and jewelry– unless you absolutely need them. Securing these items can be a pain.
- If traveling to a country with an unfamiliar language, learn a few important phrases before you go such as greeting words and how to bargain/ haggle. Carry a guidebook or download a translation app such as Google Translate. Also, always research cultural norms and current affairs of a country before visiting.
- Keep physical and digital copies of all travel documents such as your passport, visas and vaccination cards. Find out if the country has a consulate or embassy for your country, and try to locate it or have a general idea of how to find it. It can be a nightmare replacing those documents if they go missing while traveling, but at least the copies will make it easier for them to get replaced.
Have you ever had any travel mishaps? Please share them below. Also, I’ll start my Peru travel series soon. The week I spent in Peru was easily the best in my life so far so I’m super excited to share everything I did over the next coming weeks.
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Take care! ‘Til next time.