Hi Frugalistas! I was thrilled to be invited to join a pre-TBEX day sponsored by MSC Cruises on one of their ships in Athens. The plan was that we would spend the day on the ship while it was docked in Athens as part of a cruise from Venice to Istanbul. I had great plans about what I wanted to get out of the day, and the posts I wanted to write. So this was supposed to be the post about how to do a Mediterranean cruise as a solo female traveller. It could have also been the post about whether a Mediterranean cruise could be a good option for cruise sceptics. Instead, it’s a post about what to do when your travel day doesn’t go as planned……
Our day with MSC Cruises didn’t go as planned at all. In fact we didn’t get to board the ship. The ship did not even come into the port of Piraeus – a storm and heavy seas put paid to any plans of that. So there we were on a bus – 14 travel bloggers and 2 representatives from MSC Cruises, with a Greek bus driver who didn’t speak English, and our day in tatters as the port was closed. Our ship went to Corfu instead, meaning all those shipboard guests who’d dreamed of visiting the Acropolis missed their planned shore excursion. We bloggers – who had all applied to be on the trip, and who had had to pitch blog post ideas to get on the excursion had no material. David and Salvatore from MSC Cruises had no ship to show 14 bloggers they’d spent three days’ work deciding who to invite. What a mess! But not a single person complained…….
As seasoned travellers we all knew things can and do go wrong. Flights get cancelled, trains are late, museums are unexpectedly closed. The weather turns bad. Every traveller needs a Plan B. Our Plan B involved two bloggers choosing to catch the train back to Athens to attend one of the pre-TBEX workshops. The rest of us found a great café at a Marina on the road back to Athens, where we ate, drank and chatted. I made friends that morning in that café that I then spent time with during the rest of the conference. I learned a lot about cruises from a couple of genuine cruise experts. The food was great, the company excellent and a good time was had by all. David and Salvatore were charming and generous hosts. The rain pelted down, and the wind blew, but we didn’t mind. Before we left, the waiter brought out two plates of loukamedes (Greek donuts covered in honey) as a gift for us. Locals came in and said hello to us.
We arrived back in Athens early, and the weather had improved. I wandered along the street from the conference venue with one of my new friends and went to the Benaki Museum. It was a place I was very keen to visit, but wasn’t sure how I was going to have time.
It wasn’t the day I had in mind. But was it a waste of my valuable time on what was a very short trip that I needed to pack as much as I could into? Absolutely not. I adored my day. It was fun and I learned a lot. I was thrilled when one of my fellow travellers recognised my blue striped Tshirt from the packing post I’d written before I left (yes, she’d read it!). I enjoyed good company, good food, and loved my visit to the Benaki Museum (more on that in future posts).
So how do you save the day, when your travel plans don’t work out as you hope?
Firstly, stay calm and don’t complain. Getting in a bad mood doesn’t improve the situation for you or anyone else. If you get bad service or people are rude, that’s different. But getting angry because the weather is bad, a museum is closed for renovations (as happened to me in Istanbul in April) or your ship doesn’t come in makes no sense, and does nothing to help the situation.
Work out what you can do, rather than focussing on what you can’t do. That helps maintain a positive mood for you and everyone else you are with. We could go somewhere for food and a chat, even though we couldn’t go on the ship. We were, so to speak, all “on board” with that idea. That was our focus. When we found a lovely café, the focus was on what to eat and enjoying each others’ company. I never heard a single person say they wished they’d been on the ship. There were vloggers (video bloggers) and travel photography bloggers who had literally no material. At least I could write something about my day. And I got another great idea for a different post I hadn’t thought to pitch for during the day. WIN!!
Take advantage of the extra time you have. Go and do that shopping, or have an impromptu walk and get a little bit lost. Use the time as a “bonus” rather than a missed opportunity. If you are tired, use it as rest time. Write postcards, find a café full of locals. When our bus arrived back early to the conference venue we all went in and got ourselves registered. That saved us having to get there early and queue to register on the first morning.
Consult your guide book and your travel plans for other options. When I looked at my map and realised the Benaki Museum was just along the street from where our bus dropped us off, and that it was open, that was my day solved. I was going to take advantage of the time and do something I wasn’t sure I would get to do otherwise. Imagine my delight when I arrived and discovered that it was a free admission day as well? I saved myself EUR7, and had a fabulous afternoon.
That’s part of the joy of travel for me. Some days are not what you expected them to be. Sometimes they may be even better. Even if they aren’t better, they are at least different. Going with the flow and playing it by ear can yield some of your best travel memories. It’s not a case of “if” things go wrong – if you travel enough, you can guarantee they will. It’s how you respond to them that makes the difference……
Have you ever had your travel plans go completely awry? What did you do instead, and what was the result?
Author’s note: I was hosted by MSC Cruises during the morning. Ship board photos provided by MSC Cruises. Other photos author’s own