Editors note: This was co-authored by our amazing wanderwomxn co-conspirator, Raychelle Heath. She is a brilliant writer, meditation guide and travel inspiration as she’s lived outside of the United States since 2007. She’s pictured below in the midst of turning a muddy trip into something joyful. 🙂

Muddy but still fly.

Muddy but still fly.

We’ve all been there — you’ve booked a beautiful place for a getaway and are pumped to arrive and hit the town. Then you get there and nothing goes to plan. Your hotel is a mess, it rains the whole time, and the one place you wanted to eat is closed for the season. What do you do to turn things around?

Here are 8 ways to make the most of your trip: 

  1. Keep good company: Who you travel with is almost (or maybe more) important than where you go. Before you hit the road, make sure the people you are traveling with are on the same page as you are. This will help keep the vibes good when things go south. And if you’re traveling solo, try to connect with a local group or use a site like Meetup to make a connection so that you don’t have to suffer alone. 

  2. Read the fine print: When planning, try not to book non-refundable rooms or cars. Plans change and sometimes you get somewhere that sucks. Even though COVID caused many travel companies to be more flexible about change fees and cancellations, it’s important to check the rules for your specific booking. If you’re not careful, you may make a reservation that you can’t cancel or change and could lose money. 

  3. Pamper yourself: Maybe your hotel isn’t the greatest, or that boat tour you booked got cancelled because of weather. Look no further than your nearest spa or nail salon to turn the tide. There’s nothing quite like getting a massage or getting your nails done to give you a new perspective.

  4. Find the silver lining: Sometimes a trip just can’t be salvaged, but there are still ways to focus on the good. Maybe your hotel has great Wifi that you can use to distract from the other things that aren’t so great. Maybe the tour you booked gets cancelled, but there are beautiful outdoor spaces you can access for some great pictures. And maybe everything feels wrong and your silver lining is that you have a great story to tell when it’s finally over. Travel can be a privilege; put it in perspective — know that you’ll be able to laugh about it once you’re back home.

  5. Search for nearby attractions or alternatives: If you have your heart set on a day at the beach and it rains all day, take the opportunity to check out nearby cafes, restaurants, or gallery spaces. Maybe you had planned to take a boat tour and rough water threw things off. Take the day to explore other water activities closer to shore like snorkeling or paddleboarding. Sometimes a nearby attraction can offer an even better experience than the one you originally planned.

  6. Cut your losses + reclaim your time: It’s okay to cut a trip short if you’re miserable and unable to enjoy yourself. Sure it’s super frustrating when you’ve paid for an experience and it turns to shit. But is it better to suffer through it, or to leave and reclaim your time? A good question to ask yourself is whether you’ll be happier there or back at home. It’s important to consider the financial and energetic cost, but also consider your options. Could you take the L and go back home, and have a more local and nourishing adventure? Or do you want to tough it out and find some gems amidst the trash? Whatever you decide, time is something you can’t get back so honor your truth and your time! 

  7. Vent your frustrations: No one wants to be that asshole that’s yelling at a receptionist that has nothing to do with why they had a bad experience. However you can go on Yelp and Tripadvisor to leave that one star review as catharsis and to let fellow travelers know what the deal is before they book. Just be sure to keep it objective. For example: if you hate the color blue and the room is blue, check yourself. However if there’s hair in the bed that’s not yours, it’s fair to air that out. 

  8. Be gentle with yourself: Maybe there were signs, maybe something seemed off when you booked, but we all get caught up in wanderlust and that feeling of wanting to stick to our plans. Sometimes we have to learn to let go and just go with the flow. And don’t beat yourself up about not having everything go to plan. You’ve now joined an elite group of travelers that had to learn to make lemonade. Grant yourself some grace, take a deep breath, and you’ll find a way to turn things around.

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