This week we went on vacation. Each year, as I plan out an elaborate, multi-week trip, I do the best I can to plan everything down to the very last detail. My kids look forward to the colorcoded binder I always bring along. And everyone in my family knows: you get one small carry-on suitcase no matter the length of the trip.
This is all to say that yes, I am a planner. The more I plan and research in advance, the more fun we can have. Especially with six kids.
But inevitably, by the first day, our plans have gone awry. I can’t think of one vacation that didn’t begin with some sort of unexpected trouble, delayed flight, or simply, a rough day. In fact, this year on our first day of vacation we were blessed with a flat tire and a dead car battery.
But in order to travel, hike, and explore you have to do more than expect the unexpected. You have to embrace the unexpected.
This level of chill starts with refusing to get upset no matter what happens. It doesn’t matter if you end up running down a dark highway towards your plane at 5 in the morning. It doesn’t matter if it starts pouring rain as your six small children stand outside in a rental car parking lot with piles of luggage (before the one carry-on rule). You must begin by staying happy, cool, and calm.
Then, you have to move to the next level: embrace it. If we wouldn’t have had such a cruddy first day in London, we wouldn’t have become so intimately familiar with the subway system. If our car didn’t break down last Monday, we wouldn’t have gotten to spend an hour swimming in our clothes at the beach and discovering really cool washed up jellyfish in the process. My kids wouldn’t have learned the life lesson that most setbacks really aren’t so bad. A car that won’t start in 95 degree heat is a chance to find out that getting wet at the beach really cools you down.
This lesson can be applied to other types of travel – whether it be multi day hikes or simply, a morning outing. You lost the trail. The Waze link failed and you had to find the hike yourself. You didn’t realize how muddy it would be or that there would be thorns. But what did you learn about yourself along the way?
Stay positive, embrace the nuisances, and you’ll learn that your inner strength is enough to make any type of experience a perfect adventure.
Present moments are short lived. But our memories of the past let us experience things again and again. If you’re able to embrace the unexpected, all of your plans gone awry will turn into happy memories.