When Shit Goes Wrong Traveling. How Do You Get Out of the Slump?
An Experiment in Writing to Myself Like a Friend
Sometimes, because writing is a form of therapy for me, I will read back my travel journals and be shocked at how much I’ve complained and moaned.
When I’m in a negative spiral, I need to spill that negativity out onto the page, otherwise, it ends up swirling round and round forever more. I need these negative pages to be able to get back to the positive. To stop the wallowing.
But how much wallowing, is too much? When should you stop?
As I’m in Bali and the basic bitch that I am, of course, I’ve been reading ‘Eat, Pray, Love’. I was delighted to read that Elizabeth Gilbert does the same thing. Except she takes it to the next level. She’ll write down that frustration first, and then she’ll reply to herself second. Now I know that only crazy people talk to themselves but this seems perfectly sane to me.
Sometimes I will read one of my pity party pages to myself and say well actually it’s not that bad because of a, b or c. Or it’s OK, you have x,y,z to look forward to. Or you should be grateful for the good things that happened today.
They often say that you wouldn’t speak to a friend the way you speak to yourself. So, maybe, I should try speaking to myself like a good friend. With the same calm wisdom and rationale.
I gave it a go and thought I’d share both diary entries with you to share both the technique in real terms and some warts and all parts of traveling.
The negative spiral
I’m frustrated that this trip isn’t going the way I planned it. I had this vision in my mind of being really healthy. Downing green smoothies and coconut water, writing, making friends, healing my heartache, finding solace in yoga, practicing every day, getting massages and a nice tan. Ready to return home feeling happy and refreshed.
Instead, I felt like absolute shit on arrival. Two days of sobbing over my recent breakup and getting no sleep the night before my flight because my dorm room was right next to a nightclub didn’t help. Neither did getting up at 4 am for a 6- hour flight which turned into a 7-hour and a half flight, with hideously long immigration lines, followed by a 1-hour and a half car journey.
By the time I actually arrived I was starving hungry because the only thing I’d eaten in the past 12 hours was one measly plane meal and a small banana. I was absolutely knackered, my God I was tired and I was smelly and grubby. I could smell myself.
After a quick shower and some food, I decided to go for a little walk to check out the surrounding area which was poorly lit and had no pavement, just gravel road. I slipped over in the dark on this slope of dirt and gravel. I scraped and craved pieces out of my leg. It hurt like a bitch and it looked bloody and awful. People keep asking if I was in a motorbike accident!
Cleaning it hurt so much and I struggled to sleep again because it was stinging so much and hurt whenever I accidentally grazed it across the sheets.
A couple of days later low and behold, my old nemesis food poisoning reared his ugly head up and out of my throat and onto the floor. Two litres of green smoothie and coconut water onto the floor in fact. (Apparently, leafy greens are a big culprit of food poisoning, who knew?!)
Que two days of doing nothing but sitting in the shade feeling sorry for myself. I spent the night in pain, awful stomach pain, and to make matters worse my whole body was sore from my deep tissue massage, in particular my back. I’ve never had back pain like it. I would sleep for 5 minutes at a time, each time waking back up in agony. Today my back still hurts. I still feel unwell and I’m absolutely exhausted. I’ve had a headache the entire day. I’ve spent the whole day alone and miserable, feeling very sorry for. It seems all the things meant to help me have hurt me.
The kind response
Sure, the journey here was long and tiring but it’s over and you’re here now. Remember how kind and lovely the staff were when you arrived? You were able to get a shower, food, and an early night right away.
Your leg looks worse than it actually is, it’s healing pretty well and you’ve got a story out of it.
Food poisoning is horrible but it’s nothing you haven’t dealt with before, in fact, you’ve had a lot worse! Like, remember when you thought you were going to die in India from Deli belly?! At least you’re in a very nice place to mop about and feel ill, in the shade by the pool. It’s not all bad.
Also, you’ve definitely gotten better as the day has gone on. You can take in food and water now. The stomach pains have almost gone now and your back feels a lot better. Just keep resting, eating a little, and staying hydrated. I’m sure you will be better in no time. Who knows after a good night’s sleep you might be back to normal tomorrow. Shit happens. Quite literally.
You’re lucky to have had such a strong deep tissue massage even if it made you sore. I’m sure that it will do you the world of good in the long run. I mean, talk about #firstworldproblems! Reflexology today was good and so was the Balinese massage on day one. You’ve had three massages in three days, you lucky pup!
You’ve also been to three wonderful yoga classes. Maybe you had to take a time out because you were sick and your body needed to rest but there’s still plenty of time for more yoga classes. Still more time for eating healthy. Still more time for sunbathing. More lovely massages and treatments to come. More time to enjoy.
Ubud will be wonderful. The cooking class will be fun. You can meet people. Take pictures. Write. Also, keep basic bitching and reading ‘Eat, pray, love’ because you need a bit of comedy and light relief right now.
Don’t worry, you’re doing just fine. This is just a minor setback, totally outside of your control, it is in no way a personal failing. You’re all good.
There’s always tomorrow!
Now, go and enjoy the rest of your time in Bali!
So as good as it felt to wallow for a moment in the negative, I’m so glad I listened to the friend version of myself. She was right. I woke up the next day, feeling a lot better and my body was on the mend.
Now I felt like I didn’t have to let these minor setbacks spoil the rest of my trip. I ended up having an incredible time. Enjoying black sand beaches, local markets, a fabulous cooking course, meeting new people, and trying out some aerial yoga.
So, next time something rubbish happens on a trip (which invariably it always does) I will take that time to wallow but I will also take the time to reframe and get some perspective from my kind friend, me.
Thank you for reading! Hearts and tips are always welcome and your support is very much appreciated.
This story was originally published on Medium
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About the author
Hi! I’m Georgie and I share travel stories of when sh*t happens. I think that sometimes the worst things that happen to you traveling, are often the funniest
Follow me on Instagram! https://www.instagram.com/sh.t_happens_lost_girl_travel/
Very well written. Keep up the good work!
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