What I Learned From Being Stranded Abroad


Ha, you thought you’d finally heard the last of the ill-fated Barcelona trip, didn’t you? Sorry, but there’s one more to go unfortunately. Then I promise that’s it. Though I am booking another holiday this week, soooooo…..

Anyway, getting stranded in another country is a stressful experience. People will laugh and make jokes like, ‘The lengths you’ll go to to get a few more days of….!’ and in time, you’ll see the funny side. But right there and then in the moment? Not so amusing. They’ll say, ‘At least you got an extra holiday!’ but let’s face it, spending a night walking the streets of a city you’d never been to until a few days ago, where you don’t speak the language and have limited funds, looking for a roof to go over your head not knowing how long you’ll need it for, is anything but relaxing. For someone who is a chronic worrier like me, this is major freakout territory, but there were some positives – after we’d resigned ourselves to our fate and found alternative means of getting home, we had a really lovely time, and I definitely learnt a few life lessons (one of them wasn’t not to leave things to the last minute unfortunately, I still do that, like, all the time).

Get Travel Insurance…

Seriously. Get Travel Insurance. Insurance is one of those things I’ve always been pants at. It’s just such a grown up thing to do isn’t it, Insurance? It’s what sensible people do, and I’m not really grown up or sensible. I mean, I could get another pair of shoes instead of that. I’ve just always been that idiot that goes, ‘Ah, what could happen really? It’ll be fine!’ I don’t even know why, because it isn’t like I have a clean slate when it comes to travel – I’ve had numerous missed flight/cancelled train/broken down bus incidents. Luckily my travel companion was smarter than me, and we were spared having to joining the back of a thousand strong queue to find out how we would be getting home…..

Choose your Travel Companion Carefully…

Learnings 2

Now, sometimes you can think you’re the best of friends with someone, and most of the time, you are. When thinking about going on holiday with someone, top of your list of priorities is probably whether or not they’re fun. You’re looking for someone to chat to while sunbathing, maybe go on a few day trips, get a little tipsy on cocktails with. All of that is important, of course, but one thing you probably don’t ask yourself is how that person would cope in a crisis. Friends, you really want to travel with someone that can stay cool in a crisis. If you’re like me you do anyway. I’m a stress head. Even when there is nothing to stress about I’m stressed so you can only imagine how stressed I get when an actual crisis hits. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a capable person and I could get through it on my own if I had to, but there will be tears, and snappiness, and probably a lot of swearing. The best way to handle me when I’m having a meltdown is to basically take charge and just tell me what to do, and thankfully the person I was travelling with was awesome. All I could think about the whole time was how awful it would have been if I was there with someone else and having to make all the decisions. Being with someone you can trust to take the lead and make everything ok will make the whole thing so much easier to handle – and I’d happily get stranded on the continent with him again any time!

…And Your Airline….

Don’t fly with Ryanair. Everyone likes to have a moan about Ryanair, don’t they? They’re kind of the punchbag of the air. I’ve always been a little skeptical of the criticism that follows them around like a bad smell – I mean, don’t people know what ‘budget’ means? I’ve always been realistic about getting what you pay for, and we all know I’m a huge fan of cheap and cheerful. I just thought slagging off Ryanair was like slagging off shopping at Primark, or drinking Lambrini. And plenty of people have probably managed to bag themselves a real bargain and walked away thinking, ‘What is all the fuss about? That was fine! AND CHEAP!’ But when something goes wrong? That’s when you want your airline to step up and reassure you. You won’t be getting that from Ryanair. They will let you queue for the check in desk for 40 minutes knowing full well that none of the flights are going anywhere. The staff will then all vanish once they’ve eventually told everyone, one at a time, that they won’t be getting home tonight and they need to join that other queue over there to ask any more questions. And they won’t be very helpful once you’re home either. They’ll lose your refund request. They’ll tell you there is a two week wait to answer your question about submitting a new one. They’ll only refund you half of the money (and yes, they’re open about the fact they’ll get back to you in two weeks about that too) and I have never before known a Customer Service call centre with a message that basically says, ‘Soz, we’re too busy to talk to you right now. Bye!’ before terminating the call. So yeah. It’s kinda like Insurance, you’ll think it will all be fine, and then one day it won’t….

Make Hay While the Sun Shines

One of the most useful things I learnt on this trip is that there really is no point getting your knickers in a twist when things beyond your control take hold. I say I’ve learnt that – I’ve always known that, but it’s easier said than done and I’m sure I’ll fall back into old habits soon enough, but I will make more of an effort to remember that sometimes your best really is the best you can do. I did have my period of panic, but once that subsided I’m glad I was able to calm down and enjoy the situation for what it was – another couple of days in a beautiful country with a beautiful person. I’m not the most positive person, lets face it. But it really does help to look at the bright side of life every now and then, otherwise you end up missing out. I could have sat in a dark hotel room all day, crying about how much more work I’d have to catch up on or how I really couldn’t afford the extra costs involved, but that would have been a real shame when there was sunshine and sangria waiting to console me outside. Sometimes you just need to shrug it off and accept your lot. And sometimes things that seemed uber important can actually wait till later without the world imploding.

Finally, and possibly most importantly….

Cherry Dr Pepper Tastes Just Like Regular Dr Pepper….

In case you saw it in a shop next time you were abroad and felt the need to buy it just to see what it’s like, I thought I’d save you the bother. It’s literally exactly the same.

Learnings 3

So there you have it, I headed off on a surprise trip a naive little butterfly, and came back a wise, educated traveller. LOLZ! Just kidding, we all know I’ll probably be boarding another Ryanair flight, uninsured and in ill advised company, again at some point. Promise me something – when I do, and I get in a complete tizz about it going all wrong, please don’t tell me I told you so…..






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