Although you can plan meticulously and take all the precautions in the world, they don’t call it the unexpected for nothing. Accidents happen, and whether it’s lost luggage or an unseasonable cyclone, the only thing you really have control over, is how you respond. It’s those moments that can make or break a vacation.
I vividly recall one time it happened to us. I was certain that the back woods road we were on led somewhere, and my wife was busy poring over the map, looking for a campsite, when we realised that we were at a dead end. A single lane dead end with snow all around. Fortunately, there was a driveway a few yards behind our 30’ travel trailer, so I carefully lined up a three point turn. We got about half way through the first point of the turn when we discovered that the snowy shoulder of the road concealed a reasonable sized ditch. With icy conditions and no chains – we were stuck, almost jack-knifed across the road while the sun began to set.
It’s the sort of situation that can really test your relationships and put a dent in your enjoyment of the vacation. The best thing you can do though is try to balance the sudden disappointment and surprise with some positives. While some events make it harder, there is usually something you can be thankful for.
We recognised that though we were totally and helplessly stuck, nothing was broken. Although it was inconvenient to say the least, there was no reason why we couldn’t turn on the heaters and spend the night in our trailer right there on the road. What’s more, we’d invested in specialist RV roadside assistance, and so we knew that eventually someone would get to us and help us out. We had enough positives that we could take the difficulties in our stride.
Another good way to manage disaster is to find what you can do. Even in dire situations there are actions you can take that will either reduce the difficulties you face or improve your ability to deal with them.
We had three young children and a rapidly cooling night to worry about. We allowed ourselves a few minutes of stress and frustration, then got on with dealing with the options we had. Inwardly, we were still in turmoil, but for the sake of our children, we were outwardly calm. While I called roadside assistance and took stock of the state of the vehicles, my wife bundled the children into the trailer and got them ready for bed. They wrapped up warm in extra layers and made hot chocolate from the comfort of the trailer while we waited. Outside I made sure I’d dug out the wheels as best I could and was on the lookout for the recovery vehicle.
Finally, when your vacation throws you a curve ball you can only make the most of the situation. Once matters are out of your hands, all the venting and angst in the world won’t change a thing – but it will do one thing – upset you and those around you. Chances are the situation will be remembered for years to come, so the best thing would be to make it as good a memory as possible. No-one wants to recall that year when Uncle Bob busted his leg on the toboggan as the year that Dad sulked for three days because of it.
When we had done all we could, I sat in the trailer with the family and watched night fall in the woods around us. We spotted a family of deer moving through the trees and took guesses at how the tow truck was going to fix our mess. When they arrived four hours later, the children wrapped up warm and pressed their faces to the windows, fascinated by the lights and activity of the recovery crew. They took great delight in cheering us on as we slogged through the snow with chains and tow harnesses, preparing for the final pull.
In hindsight, given the choice, we wouldn’t have taken that road that night, and none of that drama would ever have happened. But it did happen, and even though it wasn’t planned or expected, we have a great memory of something a little different to tell people when they ask about our trip. It could have ruined that leg of our journey, but now it’s probably one of the parts we remember best. Because we stayed positive, did what we could and made the best of the situation, we not only recall that narrow icy stretch of road, but we can laugh about it now.