Oh ****: 5 ways to cope when your travel plans go wrong

Hacking the shot in Avignon

On our most recent trip to France, we ended up in a really stupid pickle.

We had a mixup with our rental car company when we got to Avignon for our South of France day trip, which resulted in us getting stuck in the middle of Avignon for 10 hours. This was NOT what we had planned by any stretch. In fact, Avignon was originally intended to be nothing more than a pitstop along what was going to be anΒ amaaaaazing and meticulously-planning day trip.

However, thanks to the fact that you need a passport to rent a car in Europe and neither of us had double-checked that the passports were WITH US on the train… we got the chance to figure out just what we’d do in a nightmare situation: when you’re stuck in an unfamiliar city with zero plans and zero international ID.


Keep a cool head

If a mistake leads you in a direction you didn’t expect, try not to drown in blame (of yourself or others). Instead, use the tools you have – phones, maps, wifi, people – to figure out either how to fix the mistake, or how to work around it.

Basically, rationally look at your tools and options and don’t let the emotion of the situation get to you. Sounds easier than it is, but it’s a worthy goal πŸ™‚

Boyfriend Perspective:Β If you happen to be traveling with other people, I recommend deciding before hand who is going to be allowed to have a breakdown because you forgot a small, required document. That way, everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing so someone uses a brain and you don’t end up sitting at a train station for 12 hours. Sadly, I was not allowed to have a breakdown, must adult instead.



The mixup we had with the car company was partly my fault, and I’ve never felt more guilty or heartbroken about a mistake. So, Luke went and got us additional coffee and someΒ pain au chocolat,Β and sat with me outside the Avignon TGV station while we tried to figure out our next move.

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I cried, and he hugged me and suggested sugar. And about halfway into chatting about options and eating pastry, we both starting laughing about the sheer absurdity of the situation. Sleep-deprived, laden with stuff we thought we’d be able to tote in a rental car, and stuck in a city we hadn’t expected, it was honestly hard NOT to have a half-hysterical laughing fit once we fully realized just how pear-shaped our situation had gone.


Always have a Plan B (and, possibly, a Plan C)

Once we realized we were well and truly stuck, we started researching tour companies that ran trips to the lavender fields. After all, we’d planned enough time in the south to handle a long excursion, so it would’ve fit just fine.

Unfortunately, no tour companies were taking same-day bookings (because of course not!).

So, we ended up following a very simple Plan C: take an Uber to Avignon’s city center and explore the scenery we’ve got.

Boyfriend Perspective:Β If there is something that you really want to do, like the entire reason that you made the trip, here’s a tip. ASK THE LOCALS!! Seriously, someone has got to know how to get from A to B for a day trip if it is possible. Since, we happen to be more introverted and would rather do it ourselves, I believe that we could have made it to at least a lavender field that day if we had asked a few people about it. To be honest, I’m sort of glad we didn’t go, I have a strong dislike of bugs and never once thought there would be bees in a lavender field. Like, who knew, right? /s

…GASP. Traitor! ^^ hah


Live in the moment

From personal experience, I can say that perhaps the worst thing you can do when your plans go sideways is to be so heartbroken about what could have been that you completely miss what is or could be. Sometimes, things really do work out for the best.

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Luke’s approach to the situation was very much in this vein. He was ready to shrug off lavender fields and start exploring Avignon’s Papal Palace and all its nooks and crannies. I was the one who hung on to our old plans, and I probably wasted a good hour or more looking at hard-to-decipher train and bus schedules, trying to figure out how big a gamble it would be to force our plans to work.

In the end, I ended up following his lead and putting the train tables away. And our trip was all the better for it. We ended up feeling that our time in Avignon was some of the best-spent in our entire vacation!


Hack it

This one’s a little light-hearted, but also a decent idea. The thing we wanted most from the Avignon area was to see lavender in bloom. It’s one of those dreams that follows you for years, you know?

Well, we couldn’t find any fields within Ubering distance of Avignon (at least, none that we could easily get someone to bring us BACK to Avignon from). But, as we were walking around, making do with what we had, we noticed a decent-sized patch of lavender planted just outside the city walls and surrounded by tour buses.

It’s not ideal, but hey. We got photos of us and lavender, I got to enjoy that absolutely heavenly aroma, and we still got the privilege of exploring Avignon.

The lesson in all this: if you can find a way to get even some semblance of what your original goal was, it may help you to feel a little more at peace with your shattered plans.


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Also published on Medium.

29 Replies to “Oh ****: 5 ways to cope when your travel plans go wrong”

  1. LOL I loveee the boyfriend perspective it’s so great. And great point about not allowing both of you to freak out so one can be more rational hahaha. It’s great that you guys were able to laugh about it and figure it out and not get too stressed!

    1. Thank you so much! I like his perspective, too – but I always thought I was a realist until I met him! πŸ˜› I’m so glad you enjoyed. The cool thing about traveling together is that it’s adding dimension not just to who we are as people but who we are as a couple.

  2. Yes! Love all of these! Our travel plans always fail! But laughing is totally the best way to shrug it off. And chocolate.


    1. See, I’ve always had decent luck with travel plans… but, I guess the more you travel, the more likely you are to run into glitches πŸ˜€ the chocolate (and trying to keep a cool head) was definitely the saving grace for us!!

  3. We are super organized travellers so I really stress out when things don’t go according to schedule. Which is ironic seeing that we are on VACATION haha. I think having a sense of humour helps and living in the moment and just enjoying ourselves.

    1. No, girl, I am totally with you. When we realized the passports weren’t with us, I could see exactly where in our flat they were because I’d been so careful about them! hahahah So, I stressed, and Luke brought chocolate. It worked out πŸ˜‰

  4. All good tips πŸ™‚ I think being able to laugh when things go wrong is the best stress relief, and then live in the moment as soon as things are plain sailing again is a Must! Happy travels πŸ™‚

    1. Agreed! Once I could start seeing the place we were in, instead of missing where we weren’t, it made the day perfect πŸ™‚

  5. Oh , how much I can relate to it! We are currently on a 100+ days trip to East Europe and we have so many such moments. At times, we wanted to kill each other and at times we laughed at our stupidity.
    I agree with you on having a cool head, and having other plans.

    Probably I’ll also write something similar after this trip gets over. πŸ™‚

    1. I can’t wait to read it! Definitely share with us when you publish πŸ™‚ Totally relate to alternating between wanting kill each other and laughing too. Beginning to think it’s part of being attached at the hip with another human! hah

  6. You two are adorable! Things like this are just gonna happen on your travels (un)fortunately and when they do, just make the absolute best of them, which you did, yay πŸ˜€ So happy to hear this turned out to be one of the highlights of your trip. Keep rocking it <3

    1. Thank you!! <3 It really did end up being one of the most vivid and beautiful days we had in France. Best mixup EVER πŸ™‚ Safe travels!!

  7. Such a nice post. You are right…sometimes, the best laid plans go haywire and the Plan B /C turn out to be so much more enjoyable, provided we decide to make the best of it. Its all in the mind.!

  8. Oy — what a comedy of errors! I’m smiling at your “lavender patch” but it just means you’ll be even more hungry for the big field the moment you finally get to see it. I hear you, though, that sometimes the days everything gets messed up with travel plans are the more memorable because you’re not just sleepwalking through the ease — you have the challenges to think through, and that makes the heart pound!

    1. What a kind comment! Thank you. Yes, happy accidents are definitely the best kind. And we’re both extremely excited to get back to Avignon so we can do the lavender fields right, this time πŸ™‚

  9. I find traveling stressful as it is and when things do’t go as planned, I am even more stressed. I know it’s important to keep a cool head, but gosh I hate when things go awry! I will certainly try to keep your tips in mind!

    1. I’m with you 100%. It’s rough! But from what I’ve heard (and started to discover) it gets easier to deal the more you do it. Not sure if that’s comforting at all, but…. πŸ™‚

  10. We had a home exchange in Europe and we traded both the house and car, so luckily we never fell into a situation where we needed to but couldn’t rent our ride. I feel that mistakes are the hallmarks of every trip. At least you had a fun time and made the best of it.

    1. That’s a brilliant arrangement! I’ve always wondered about home exchanges, to be honest. How did you enjoy yours?

  11. Enjoyed the read. Always have a plan C also laugh it out when things go wrong, hehe!

    1. Man, sometimes plan C doesn’t even feel like enough! But those are the best (if most painful) learning experiences πŸ™‚

  12. Appreciate your post – because how often do things not go as planned? More often than we would like to admit. However, like you did on this trip, we have found that some of our best travel days have been spontaneous and unplanned (even if that is because the plans for the day fell through). Cheers to adjusting, laughing and living!

    1. Thanks, Eric! We’ve always had little mishaps or small goof-ups, but this was our first kinda-sorta doozy. Thankfully, it really did turn out for the best, and I don’t think either of us would’ve traded the day we had for the day we could’ve had πŸ™‚

  13. All good tips! Our family experienced something similar when a flight controllers strike grounded our flight and we lost a day trying to find another way to get from Spain to France. But the hotel that the airline put us up in was amazing, and when we ended up traveling by train, we realized we would have missed out on seeing such a beautiful part of Spain had we flown instead. I was the one that had a meltdown because I’d spent so many hours figuring out every last detail of our trip. But my husband and kids just went with the flow, and it ended up being a great experience.

  14. These are great tips! It’s easy to become totally disgruntled when things don’t go as planned, but you’re right that it’s better to just cut your losses and move on. I love your bf perspective! And I’m glad you found a lavender patch to enjoy in the end!

    1. I’m so glad they resonated with you! And at least we got a whiff of the dream, right? πŸ˜‰

      1. Just enough to keep you wanting more πŸ˜›

  15. Such cute post! A super helpful post! You guys look so adorable πŸ™‚

    1. Hahah! Thank you πŸ™‚ I’m glad you enjoyed… and we do our best πŸ˜‰

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