How to Have a Great Vacation Even When Everything Goes Wrong

Jennifer Flodin Inspiration Leave a Comment

We’ve all had vacations where everything went to shit.

The weather was poor and nothing that you planned ended up working out.

At the time, it might have felt like a wasted trip. It could have felt like a disaster. You might regret not doing more research and picking a better time to go.

But, here’s a truth bomb for you:

There’s no such thing as a bad vacation: only a bad mindset.

The weather didn’t ruin your trip: you did.

Harsh? Maybe. But, it’s the truth.

We can control so little in the world. We can’t control the weather or people, even though we feel as though we do.

The only thing we truly have control over is our thoughts, emotions, and actions.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, I’m going to teach you how to have an epic vacation even if you have a shitty flight and nothing goes according to plan.

The Key to Being Positive

If you takeaway nothing else from this post, I need you to remember one thing:

Everything happens for you.

You must ingrain this into your brain to the point where you believe it. Remind yourself of this everyday. It will change your entire life and the way you experience it, whether you’re on your next adventure or at home.

This is usually the point where people say all of these crazy terrible things and ask how they could possibly benefit anyone.

And I get it. I struggled with that exact same questions. But, I've seen some incredible people use what shitty cards they've been dealt to do some incredible things: things they may not have done without the pain and heartache. So, I think that it has way more to do with a person's mindset than the shitty things that have happened to them.

If you feel like you have a negative mindset about life in general, I highly recommend that you start challenging some of your current beliefs and replace them with some better ones.

One great way to start replacing old beliefs that do not serve you is through affirmations.

If you want some great affirmations, I highly recommend starting with these affirmations from Nourish Your Glow.

What to Do When Your Flight Sucks


If that title makes you think this is impossible, you need to read this section. Do not skip it.

I get it. Shitty flights are totally a thing.

You’re wedged between two total strangers that are encroaching on your space. There’s a baby right behind you that won’t stop crying. Someone a few rows away just threw up. And, unexpected turbulence means that drink and dinner service will be postponed until god knows when.

I get it.

But, instead of being cranky, you should be two things:

    • Prepared
    • Grateful

    Yep, I said it: grateful. You might be wondering how the fuck you’re supposed to be grateful when literally everything that could go wrong is going wrong. Well, I’ll address it in just a minute, but first, let's talk about how to get prepared.

    Be Prepared


    Even if you think that your flight is quick and will be super easy, I highly recommend that you prepare yourself for the worst anyway. There's very little you can do once you're on the plane so being prepared is pinnacle!

    Of course, this is often easier said than done, and it can take quite a bit of effort. It's worth it though.

    Plus, there are so many resources to help you prepare for your long-haul flight, which means you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything.

    In fact, I have a guide for long haul flights that you can read here.

    If you know that you get cranky when you get hungry (let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), then you should pack a snack! No exceptions.

    If you know that you can’t sleep well on planes, bring a sleep aid. (e.g. Melatonin or Zzzquil.)

    If movies don’t interest you, bring a book. Worried about having the reading light on when the cabin goes dark? Download an extra book on your tablet or laptop.


    I’ve put together a quick list of things you’ll want to bring on your next long-haul red eye flight. And, there’s a downloadable, printable version for your convenience!

    • Eye mask (if you don’t have one, they’ll usually give you one unless you're on a super budget flight)
    • Hoodie
    • Earplugs (the ones they provide are terrible)
    • Water bottle (make sure it’s full before boarding)
    • Snacks (bring a couple just in case)
    • Headphones (make sure you bring ones with a jack so you can watch the movies!)
    • Any additional entertainment (books, downloaded shows/movies, work/homework you can do offline, etc.)
    • Neck pillow
    • Sleeping aid (if needed)
    • Whatever toiletries you’d like to have when you wake up/land (think face wash, toothbrush, ect. Remember that you won’t be able to do your entire routine, but you should be able to do your most important parts.)

    Be prepared for any mild inconveniences and you’ll feel way better no matter what happens on your flight!

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    Be Grateful


    Even if the baby behind you won’t stop crying or they can’t serve any food, you should be grateful. Why?

    You’re literally soaring through the air to a far off destination in way less time than it used to take.

    100 years ago, you’d be on a boat for weeks traveling across the Atlantic. Now, you can get from Pennsylvania to Ireland in 6 hours.

    Also, you should be grateful that the plane is still flying. Air travel is pretty safe, but sometimes shit breaks, so you should be grateful that your plane is not having to make any emergency landings.

    Be grateful for the flight attendants who are kind enough to serve you.

    Be grateful for the pilot and copilot who are getting you safely to your destination.

    Be grateful that the crying baby is behind you instead of someone who might cause a huge scene. Can you imagine a mean person making the new mother cry on her first flight with the baby when she's already feeling overwhelmed enough?

    If something shitty is happening, I guarantee you that there’s some way to be grateful. You need to rework it.

    Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not always in a grateful mindset. Sometimes, I’m ungrateful.

    But, I’ve been working so hard on improving my mindset so that I can start to see the good in everything. And, it all starts with knowing that everything happens in your favor. If you believe that, you can rework anything into positive spin.

    Being Positive When You’re Disappointed


    We have all experienced the disappointment of cancelling something we were looking forward.

    It happens.

    If you’ve ever experienced a delayed flight that cuts into your vacation, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

    On my husband and I’s honeymoon, we planned a day trip from Guanacaste (dry forest) to visit the rainforest and see a Volcano. Well, we picked a day based on what we felt was best. It’s the rainforest, so there’s no way you can exactly plan for good weather. While it hardly rained, when we went to see the Volcano, you couldn’t see the top of it at all. It was completely covered by clouds. You want to know what the bottom of a Volcano looks like? Well, it looks a lot like a mountain, which we've both seen before.

    But, we did not let that ruin the rest of the excursion! In fact, I didn’t even feel that upset by it. I know that I’ll see one eventually and that day it just wasn’t meant to be. Besides, simply being so close was incredible!

    If I had gotten caught up on the fact that I didn’t get the view of the Volcano that I wanted, I could have let it ruin the rest of the excursion (which was far from over)! And, that would have been much more disappointing.

    Remember, sometimes the parade gets rained out. But, you don’t have to let it ruin your fun.

    Keep Everything in Perspective


    If you plan to cross something off your bucket list, and it gets cancelled due to some event or circumstances that’s outside of your control, it sucks. No question. But, if you dwell on it, you could end up letting it ruin your vacation, and that would be even worse.

    You need to remember that everything happens in your favor whether you can understand why or not.

    If you need to mourn it, give yourself 5 minutes to feel upset. Then, move on and plan something else.

    As Dory from Finding Nemo would say, “Just keep swimming.”

    If you can no longer go white water rafting because there’s a thunderstorm, plan a fun day at the hotel or find a museum or literally do anything else inside.

    Where you are and who you’re with is often more important than what you’re doing.

    Enjoy Everything (Even Little Things)


    It’s important to enjoy everything. The big moments, like fulfilling a lifelong dream. The little moments, like sitting on the hotel balcony between activities.

    Sometimes we get so caught up in the grand plan and moving from one activity to the next. This makes it difficult to fully enjoy anything.

    No matter what you’re doing, I highly recommend stopping and taking it all in.

    Notice the weather; how the air feels on your skin.

    What do you smell?

    What do you see?

    What do you hear?

    How does it make you feel?

    How is what you’re experiencing different or similar to what you’re used to at home?

    Checking in with yourself at different points in time will really help make your trip even more magical because you’ll tap into the little nuances that actually make your vacation and experiences magical.

    As time goes on, you may not remember the particular details of your vacation, but you’ll likely remember how you felt being there with your loved one(s).

    Conclusion: It Will Be Perfectly Imperfect

    Don’t put a ton of pressure on your vacation to perfect because it won’t be.

    You won’t be happy the entire time, and at some point, something will go wrong.

    The good news is that everything happens in your favor. So, all of the right things will go wrong. Just keep rolling with the punches, and you’ll have a great time!

    Always look on the bright-side and be grateful.

    While I always recommend thorough planning, I don’t recommend becoming too attached to your plans.

    In order to get yourself ready for your vacation, you will want to start practice implementing this positive mindset and gratitude in your everyday life. And, honestly, it will change your life and the way you experience it in the best way possible.

    Thank you so much for reading this post!

    I hope that this information helps you on your next vacation!

    Talk soon,

    How to Have a Great Vacation Even When Everything Goes Wrong

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