Friday, 21 June 2013

5 Ways to Deal with A Crisis When You're Travelling.

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I'm a big planner. Months before trips I get myself lost in corners of the internet, looking at other people's blogs and taking notes on what to do and where. This is much to Nick's dismay who prefers the get yourself lost kind of travelling (Although I think he has to admit that my research made our Christmas trip to Japan amazing!).

Yet no matter how much I plan, I know there will always be unavoidable things I could never foresee. And sometimes it's these things that make you feel furthest from home. I've had lots of mishaps along the way, I think a city break to Berlin with 3 of my university friends proved to be so full of small crises that we left traumatised. But I think the previous hiccups have made me alot more prepared for what happened to us this week.

One of these hiccups was when I was 19, Clare and I went on a trip to Amsterdam. We'd been told to catch the return bus to Rotterdam from where we had been dropped off, but no-one pointed out the fact that there were road works, so we hadn't been dropped off in the correct place. We spent a couple of hours, standing folornly at the roadside, watching the minutes tick down before we realised that the bus wasn't coming. We had very little time to get to the port to catch our ferry home, so we dashed to the train station to see if there was anything we could do. After a cruel joke on the station master's part (How could we get to Rotterdam in 40 minutes, I asked. He laughed and said "By helicopter of course," it was only when I asked where we got the helicopter from that he informed me it was a joke. Cue me bursting into tears.)

But this week's events made me realise that I may have grown up a little since then. These won't help everybody but here's what I've found helps me:

1. Keep Calm... and stop the blood flow, was my case on Friday night. I knew that Nick had hurt himself, but I wasn't expecting to find him covered in blood from head to toe when I came around the corner. If I had started to panic then I think his reaction would have been far worse. Instead of worrying, make a mental list of the steps that need to be taken to help the situation, and get them done. Having small tasks like that will also take your mind off current happenings.

2. Carry a phrase book. That was the first thing we needed when I realised a trip to the hospital was in order. I've been very lazy when it comes to learning Korean, so I grabbed it on our way out so I could tell the taxi driver exactly what we needed. Natasha also became a walking, talking phrase book when I had to call her and ask what the word for 'tendon' was. I can imagine there would be nothing more frustrating when you're not able to communicate properly with the people that are there to help you solve your problem.

3. Phone home. There's nothing like the sound of someone from home's voice to remind you that it's going to be ok. When they're removed from the situation, they can add some objectivity to it and help you keep calm.

4. Find a Distraction. I think books and laptops are what have kept us both sane this week. We also had cards to play if ever the going got really tough. Situations like this often mean lots of sitting and waiting and not quite knowing why, so having something to distract you will kill the time and the anxiety.

5. Remember what your parents told you. I like to think that parents pass on their advice for a reason. It sounds very old lady like, but always make sure that you have travel insurance, and keep the details of it easy to find. A lot of times, a crisis only feels so massive because of the consequences it will have on your bank account. But my dad likes to remind me that we pay a minimal insurace fee, so in the face of problems, someone will pick up the astronomical fees. At the end of the day, money is just money. It's better to have to scrimp and save and cut back on things than to be really sick, injured or suffering and completely helpless.

And after the crisis is over, it's good to look back give youself a pat on the back for making it through.

Back in Amsterdam, we eventually caught a taxi to the port, telling the driver to go so fast that it felt like we were in the set of Gone in 60 Seconds. When we arrived, the ferry was still there but it turned out the lady at the travel agents back in the UK hadn't even booked us onto the boat, but luckily there was a free room. So with mascara tracks down my face we managed to avoid what felt like a complete disaster.

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