Journalist Seeks Coping Strategies for Vacation Disasters

Hello. I'm writing a piece for a dating website on what couples can do to recover from common travel-related setbacks without affecting their relationship status. How can they prepare for each one before they happen? What tricks/tips do you suggest for dealing with delayed flights, car trouble (breaking down/accidents), weather woes and unexpected illness while keeping their budding relationship on track. If you have a story to tell yourself, I would love to hear it.

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In 1992 my wife and I once flew a series of puddle-jumpers to Union Island, a sleepy, semi-arid speck in the Grenadines.  A sailboat captain and his first mate (in every way) were scheduled to meet us there, and we would take a week-long sail northward to Tobago Keys, Mustique, and the other Grenadines. He met us, as arranged, at what was then the only bar on the island (or so it seemed), where he told us that he was fighting with his girlfriend right now, so he simply could not accommodate us. Sorry, he said, you're on your own.

So there we were, abandoned on this barren island with no transportation out of there (just a landing strip with one carcass of a goat that someone had shot, and another carcass of a small plane that had apparently experienced a rough landing). My wife might well have turned to me with the old Oliver Hardy line, "This is another fine mess you've gotten me into." But she didn't, because she understood that the situation was out of my control. And that's key in marital relations: Don't snap at your spouse for things he/she can't control -- especially if the spouse is in as big a pickle as you are.

We found someone with a telephone and managed to contact the New England-based yacht charter company (Nicholson), whose manager was horrified at what had happened. She somehow found an ultra-luxurious yacht in Guadeloupe that was available and booked us tickets to Guadeloupe for the next day, all at Nicholson's expense.

Meanwhile, what to do these next 24 hours in this quasi-desolate place -- carp at each other? No thanks: It's critical to be able to switch gears, to go with the flow, when you're traveling. We found a ferry that would take us to a neighboring island, Palm Island, where there was a resort owned by Caribbean legend Johnny Coconut (John Caldwell, I think). We checked in, had a wonderful time there, and took the ferry back to Union Island the next day for the first of several small planes that would get us to Guadeloupe that day. 

Upon arrival, we had to keep telling ourselves to go with the flow, because we'd really had our hearts set on the Grenadines. But we forced ourselves to adjust, my wife was smart and considerate enough not to blame this mess on me, and (who knew?) we fell in love with Guadeloupe. 

Thanks for the story, Ed. My piece is targeted toward newbie couples. Would it be a fit for what I'm looking for?

Sure, because this happened pretty early in our marriage. (And we're one of those couples that met, moved in together, and got married -- BAM.)

Can I email you some questions? I'm looking at five specific scenarios that couples hopefully can avoid or teach how to cope with for a dating site. Let me know.

Ed. Fascinating story. 

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