In North America, we have a vacation issue. Most people get very little time off in a year. While Europeans get weeks of holidays, here in the US and Canada, we’re lucky to get more than two weeks. Why is this an issue? Well, for one thing, it gives us an unrealistic expectation of vacation magic when they really should try for interesting travel.
“What is vacation magic”, you ask? Well, it’s the expectation that your vacation will be a magical time that will entertain you, educate you while also resting you so that you de-stress from the last year of work (since your last teeny vacation). Um. Yeah. That would be magic. Unfortunately, that is largely NOT how travel goes and many people then end up upset and feeling, well, robbed of their perfect holiday.
Want proof that people feel this way? Just visit Trip Advisor and start reading hotel reviews. The things people will complain about is AMAZING. Look, I get it. You want to get what you paid for but often you didn’t pay for perfect. And everyone has an off day. Unfortunately, sometimes those off days will coincide with your vacation.
We’ve all been there. My theory, though? Embrace that the boring, the gross and the crazy are part of the journey. And honestly, the often become part of the bigger, more interesting travel story. If everything was sterile, pre-packaged perfect, it would be pretty darn boring.
We just arrived back from two weeks in Vietnam. It was a great trip but we had our share of things that didn’t go quite as planned. The funny thing? Some of the craziest things that happened are the first thing we tell people.
An example…. We travelled to a homestay outside of Can Tho in the Mekong Delta called Nguyen Shack. After spending time in the giant city of Ho Chi Minh, we couldn’t wait to get away from it all and spend some quiet time enjoying the Vietnamese country side.
We arrived at our homestay and fell in love with the bamboo huts with thatched roofs immediately. They were the perfect dwelling for an experience in the tropical Mekong. We also loved that they had a menagerie of cats, two dogs and a pig. Evan was in HEAVEN. On the first night we chatted with the husband of the owner who happened to be from Quebec. He mentioned that the cats were to keep the rats at bay. We laughed and thought nothing of it.
During our first night, Evan, Nicole and I headed across the swinging bridge to our hut. I walked in and missed the light switch. Next thing I knew I stepped on a cat that I had no idea would be in our room. It screamed, I screamed but we all calmed down once we realized it was just a mama cat and her 3 kittens. A family of cats was an awesome addition to our room.
The second night, Dewey decided to stay at the main building to play guitar and hang out with the other guests. I headed back to the hut with the kids. It was late and we were tired. We came in the door and were greeted by the kittens. Mama was no where in sight. Then for some reason, Nicole looked under the bed. “OMG! She is under there eating something and it is BIG!”. Once she said that I could hear the crunching sounds. BARF! So gross but the thought of having to fight her for whatever it was and dispose of it? Even grosser. Instead, I decided to ignore it and let Dewey deal with it. The kids put in headphones to drown out the crunching and went to bed.
Fast forward a few hours. Dewey comes in and I let him know that there is a Dad job waiting for him. He looks under the bed and says “Oh hell no” and comes to bed. We were checking out the next morning so we decided to leave it. It was an eventful night that one. The mama cat was crunching and the kittens threw a party. Running, jumping, galore.
Evan told EVERY SINGLE PERSON we met on our trip about that rat. While it is a gross story, it is also pretty interesting. Plus I would much rather have a cat eating a rat than a live rat lose in our room. Unfortunately, when you have a hut open to the air made of bamboo and thatch…..there will be critters.
Will I blast the homestay? Heck no. We enjoyed the hell out of ourselves. Even though the water never got warm and there was a rat under our bed, it was one of the best parts of our trip.
Plus we have a GREAT story to tell! So chill out, relax and roll with those unexpected hiccups. You’ll enjoy your trip much, much more.