Why Even the Best Trip Plans Can Fail

Yesterday, I planned to visit Notre-Dame cathedral and the Louvre. However, the protesters in Paris prematurely canceled my itinerary. In a matter of moments, the major sights of the city were shut down to the public for their safety. It did not matter if you had tickets, if you had been waiting an hour in line, or if this was your last chance to take in some of Paris’ most famous attractions.

What Can Ruin a Trip

While protesters may seem like a one-off, there are several things that can put a damper on your excursions. Situations that can ruin your trip in which you have no control over include:

  • Inclement weather.
  • Sickness or injury.
  • Theft.
  • Terrorism.

How to Deter What You Cannot Control

I like to review the weather of my destination every day for the foreseeable week. Making sure that I plan trips outdoors on nice days and museums and the like on rainy days.
While illness and accidents happen, making sure you take care of yourself while traveling is crucial. Load up on vitamin C, eat your veggies, put on your coat and hat, and get enough sleep each night. Your body is in a foreign place and its susceptible to virus picked up at airports, on buses, and the thousands of other public places you plan to visit. Additionally, keep a small first-aid kit with you. Basic items I like to have include:

  • Over the counter pain reliever.
  • Band-aids and antibacterial ointment.
  • Cold and flu medication and cough drops.
  • Benedryl or other anti-histamines.
  • Tums or other antacids.
  • Dramamine or something for motion sickness.
  • Cortizone ointment.

While having a travel-size pharmacy in your carry-on may seem like a waste of space, you will be happy to have it when you are feeling unwell. While most items like these can be found in the country you are visiting, the packaging is most likely to be in the local language, making it more difficult to find what you need. Likewise, you may have difficulty finding a shop that sells what you are looking for. Plus, do you want to go through the effort of finding medication when you’re sick?
Every experienced traveler knows not to leave all your money in one location, even if that one location is that hidden traveler’s pouch tied to your calf or stomach. I usually keep my big ticket items (the GOOD credit card and higher bills) in a more difficult spot to reach i.e. interior pockets, in my bra or shoe. Then, I have smaller cash notes, the backup credit card, and my identification (not passport) in a more accessible area. This is for two reasons.

  1. You need to access your funds quickly. I traveled with a friend who kept all of her money in a hidden pouch tied around her waist. Whenever she wanted to buy something, she would lift her shirt and pull out a wad of cash. A secret compartment is only hidden if it stays out of sight.
  2. It is better to give the robber something. Robberies are quick. Not even the person asking for your money wants to draw out the ordeal. If you say you do not have money, then you may get hurt. Criminals can be desperate, so they will take something, anything. Being about to pull out less than 50 dollars/euros/whatever to hand to them could save you from losing more, such as your jewelry, coat, or shoes, as well as being struck or worse.

If you are visiting a location that has been affected by terrorism, then try to be aware of the local news. It is easy to set off into vacation mood and only focus on having fun, but being aware of the political situation can save your trip. I knew about the protesters in Paris so when I saw them, I knew to keep my distance. It’s not that the protesters themselves were dangerous but the reaction from the police that I needed to avoid. Namely, tear gas and mace.

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