The essence of wise living is anticipating the unanticipated and expecting the unexpected.
~Kevin A. Woolsey
What I am about to share is an inside story, never before told to any member of the traveling public. Resort owners and innkeepers worldwide all have our little behind-the-scenes secrets told only to other innkeepers we really trust at end of season parties where we try to top one another’s tales of guest or maintenance horrors; this is one of ours. One afternoon while cleaning the bathroom floor in one of the cabins, our housekeeper glanced inside the toilet. Something in the bottom of the bowl caught her eye. Knowing she had already cleaned the darnn thing, and thinking that she must have accidentally dropped something without realizing it, she leaned in for a closer look. I am betting that all five foot three inches of her became airborne at that point because just as she was thinking about getting her brush to move the object, it moved on its own. It was a snake.
I heard the shriek, saw the hasty exit from the building, and went to investigate. I developed immunity a long time ago to housekeeper stories of giant spiders leaping from the bushes, so in I calmly went to see what was actually lurking in the toilet. It was a snake. And not a small one, I might add. Two eyes, forked tongue, scaly skin, the works. Right there below the water, in that part of the toilet where things usually disappear with a whoosh.
We promptly invited a skeptical Gary to the viewing party, but apparently Mr. Snake felt that the room was a little crowded at that point, and poof, he disappeared without even a whoosh of water. Vanished. We waited. Gary sent me for tongs from the kitchen. No snake. A plan developed to close the door and come back quietly with tongs at the ready. He had to come up for air sometime, didn’t he? To make a very long story short, we tried everything we could think of to entice that damn snake out of that damn toilet. For two weeks. Two weeks! I’m talking cheese, pork chops, and tuna. We blocked the bathroom door with towels and waited. Got ants. No snake. We saw glimpses of him once or twice smiling at us from the bottom of the toilet the first week, then nothing. He left the premises as quietly as he came.
Why am I telling you this story? Not to give you potty issues, but I bet you’ll be checking now before you sit won’t you? No guest ever saw the snake, but it could have just as easily been someone other than the housekeeper who found our friend. The happy travelers among us would simply have been shocked, accepted the fact that unexpected stuff happens (particularly in toilets), and graciously moved to another cabin, knowing that they had a story to tell for the rest of their lives. I shudder to think about what the unhappy traveler type might have done.
I envision bad online reviews, complaints to the BBB and the health department, credit card disputes, maybe even a lawsuit. A snake in the toilet? That’s probably good for a year or more of unhappiness for all involved, don’t you think? The point is, that if you travel you are going to encounter some stuff you did not expect. Get a jump by expecting the unexpected.
The Bad Stuff You Should Expect
- Weather It will always be hotter, wetter, windier, colder, or more uncomfortable in some way that you expected. Plan for it and stay happy when everyone else around you starts to whine.
- Delays From traffic snarls to flight attendant contract negotiations, something is always out there lurking, just waiting for the chance to keep you waiting. Build extra time into your itinerary and you’ll be one step ahead of the delay monsters.
- Short tempered, overworked, underpaid employees. Somebody is going to be less than pleasant to you. It’s a fact of travel. It’s a fact of life. Get over it. Don’t make a big issue of it. And for heaven’s sake don’t pay it forward.
- Accommodations that don’t look like they did on the Internet If traveling for you is all about perfect accommodations, then you’ve come to the wrong blog. Stop right now and go buy a glossy magazine. If you are still reading, then my advice is to do the best research you can, expect less, and travel with a can of Lysol. I know that sounds extremely cynical coming from someone inside the travel industry. It isn’t that, as an industry, we aren’t doing our best to provide you with wonderful accommodations, or that we deliberately try to mislead you with our websites. (Okay, there are some out there who are, but most aren’t.) It’s just that this blog is about finding joy in all your travels, and that joy starts with you, not the hotel.
- Minor Illness Gary and I have traveled with colds, sprained ankles, strained backs, eye infections, bladder infections, upset stomachs, broken toes, and torn ear drums. We learned a long time ago that “farmacia” is the second most important word in the Spanish language, “baño” being the most important. We also learned to travel with a very extensive first aid kit stuffed with a remedy for almost anything. We carry eye drops, ear drops, and cough drops as well as antacids, pain killers, stretch bandages, and an ice pack. The idea is to keep minor illnesses minor and to stay as comfortable as possible while you endure.
- Things are going to cost more than you thought. Taxis, tours, drinks, food, tips, it all costs more than you thought it would way back when you were sitting in your living room in your PJ’s being seduced by that Internet sale on airfares to the Caribbean. Unless you are going somewhere to visit relatives take 20% more cash than you think you need and take two credit cards with plenty of open credit left on them.
If you really wanted a life with no surprises, wouldn’t you just stay home, where you at least have a chance of controlling your surroundings? We travel because we crave new experiences, new faces, or new connections with familiar faces. But new is messy. Get used to it and move on.