How many of you have a backup plan in the event that something goes awry on your vacation? I guess I was pretty naïve years ago and thought that nothing major would ever happen to us, I mean you’re only supposed to have fun on your travels, right? Well, sometimes I feel like we just might be the Griswolds, because we have some crazy travel stories to share! While looking back on some of these fiascos, we can laugh at the memories now. But, travel mishaps can be quite stressful in the moment. Here’s a look back at some of our worst travel memories and some of my suggestions for getting through these difficult situations.
Our Very Own Travel Mishaps
Car Trouble – Years ago we learned just what we were made of when our Yukon decided to completely shut down while we were out in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming, 19 hours away from home. I must also mention that this of course happened on a Saturday evening, after regular business hours. This was the first time I think I have ever seen my husband flustered and nervous. I mean, don’t most horror movies start out this way? And we also had our boys with us, so that added a whole other element to the situation.
We quickly realized that we really work well together as a team. While Jereme tried to troubleshoot the issue and move us down the road to a better area, I diligently began calling towing companies in Wyoming and Montana. This was a job in itself, because most places were closed and cell service was spotty. Finally, I found a company that was open and even though we had to wait stranded on the side of the road for four hours while they worked a wreck, we were safe and we were together. Jereme somehow managed to get us near the only restaurant in this small town, so we were able to grab dinner while we waited. And we learned that there are still some pretty amazing people in this world. The waitresses at this restaurant refused to let us pay for dinner, I literally left that place in tears. We were so grateful for the hospitality. And even though we were stranded for three additional days in a hotel room without a vehicle, we managed to be okay!
Now, I can’t even make this part up, but no lie on the way home the same Yukon, freshly repaired, completely shut down again. On the highway no less, in Colorado Springs. This was after spending all of our savings to get a brand new computer system shipped to Wyoming from Montana and then installed. I almost lost it, but managed to remain calm. Colorado Springs is a little bigger of a city than most in Wyoming, so we had better options all around. My dad ended up coming to the rescue and getting us home. And we actually ended up enjoying our unplanned time in CO. We were able to Uber around to some fun attractions while we waited for my dad to make the 12 hour drive to us from Texas. And even though I still have some PTSD when any vehicle I’m in makes the tiniest noise that seems out of the ordinary, we learned a lot about ourselves and how we work as a team!
I sure did love that Yukon, but we quickly got rid of it when we finally made it back to Texas! Overall, we learned that remaining calm, saying lots of prayers, and working together helped us get through this situation. And, I will never regret over packing, it really came in handy when we had extra clothes while being stranded!
Main Attraction Closed – So, we are the people that spent thirteen months planning and preparing for a trip to Yellowstone National Park only to arrive and find out that it was closed the whole entire time we were there! Looking back, we would’ve done things a lot differently, but at least we can kind of laugh about it now and we have a story to tell.
The day we pulled into West Yellowstone was the very day that the Park made the decision to close due to the historic flooding that happened in the northern area. We were a little flabbergasted, as the area we were in, which is near the east entrance and hours away from the north entrance, had the most beautiful blue skies and not a drop of rain in sight. Nobody really knew what to do. Online sources were saying that the Park would be closed for years, while the local news stations in the area were predicting only a day or so of closures. We decided to wait and see what would happen. I wish we would’ve just got a refund and left early. We ended up spending a lot more money than we had budgeted for because we had to find activities to do outside of the Park.
This incident taught me a lot. Even the best plans can go awry at no fault of our own. While it was very disheartening, we rebounded and made other arrangements and ended up having a great time. In hindsight though, we probably should’ve just called it a loss and headed towards home and maybe stopped in Colorado for a day or so. I would advise you to cut your losses if you ever find yourself in this situation. Unless there is a confirmed re-opening date, I don’t recommend waiting it out and spending money while you do!
Severe Weather – We have had all kinds of different weather related travel issues on our adventures! We’ve been in Galveston during a hurricane and we’ve experienced true blizzard conditions in Colorado. We’ve been on the road during an ice storm and have flown home in an intense Texas thunderstorm. That landing attempt was NOT fun!
Weather conditions are definitely not in our circle of control. The best way to prepare is to be alert. If you’re traveling in the winter, be prepared for blizzard or icy driving conditions. If you’re traveling in the spring or summer, stay weather aware for any severe thunderstorms and tornado warnings.
We’ve traveled through it all and it’s not really fun. I’m sure I’ve gotten a few extra gray hairs from all the worry. My best advice is to remain calm, even if you don’t want to, but especially if you have kiddos with you. They’re great at sensing your moods, so give them the calm. On one road trip we were driving back home from South Carolina and there were tornadoes directly to the north and south of us. We were just driving along, no clue in the world that we were basically in between two very serious storm systems.
I learned the hard way to pay attention to those county line signs so that if a weather warning comes across the radio, you’ll know if you’re in the clear or not. I feel like weather apps are getting better at sending alerts specific to your location. So, make sure you download something like the weather channel app and allow notifications.
I have also rearranged our driving route home a couple of different times. I’m kind of nerdy and enjoy things like the weather. I follow some storm chasers on social media, too. If they post about heading to an area for an upcoming chase or post weather models online and I’m planning to drive through that general vicinity, then you bet I reroute or change my travel dates and either leave earlier or stay an extra day!
Illness – A few years ago we were hiking a super hard trail in Custer State Park, SD. Our boys were and 5 and 8 at the time. The five year old was rocking the trail, but our eight year old was in full struggle mode. We started fussing at him to keep up and to stop whining. Little did we know that he was starting to get sick. By the time we finished that 4 mile hike and got back to the hotel, he had spiked a fever. We felt so awful for him!
Getting sick is never fun, but especially not while you’re on vacation. I swear, I started quarantines before that even became a household thing! Having kids and being a teacher almost guarantees that you might face an illness at some point while traveling.
Usually before we’re set to leave for a trip, I become a totally uncool mom. We don’t have sleepovers, we don’t visit places like those fun indoor trampoline parks, and I’m making sure we are all constantly washing our hands and taking our vitamins. I’ve learned to bring the whole medicine cabinet with us when we travel! I bring it all, the thermometer, fever reducing medicine, allergy pills, cold/flu, tummy, cough meds, etc. I also bring a first aid kit for any minor injuries. I feel like it’s better to be overly prepared than not prepared at all. I also make sure to bring Dramamine and Benadryl everywhere we go! I can get really car/motion sick and nothing can ruin your day like a bout of this on a long road trip. Being prepared really helps to ease my anxiety when we travel.
Other Tips & Recommendations
I know that even though we’ve had a few travel mishaps, we’ve been really lucky that nothing has been worse! This got me thinking a little about what all could go wrong on a trip and are we prepared? Here are some additional tips and things that I prepare for before traveling!
- Check vehicle, make sure tires & windshield wipers are in good condition.
- Bring along a battery charger or jumper cables.
- Screenshot or print your reservation confirmation in case it’s lost upon arrival.
- Call ahead to the hotel and reconfirm your booking before your travel date.
- Make sure you have extra money or a credit card in case of an emergency.
- Travel with a first aid kit, extra food/water, blankets, and medicine in case you’re stranded.
- Take a photo of your passport in case it gets lost.
- Bring your insurance cards.
- Share your travel plans with a family member – Life360 app is great for this!
- Pay attention to your surroundings.
- Always follow your gut.
I hope this post was informational. My intention was definitely not to scare anyone from traveling, but to remind you that mishaps can happen and it’s better to be ready and prepared than blindsided. We’ve had far more positive experiences than negative ones! If you’ve had a travel mishap and have any other tips to share, I’d love to hear them. Otherwise, stay safe and happy travels!