How to Beat a Bad Travel Day

Bad days are a fact of life. It doesn’t matter if you’re stuck at the office with an a-hole boss or stuck on a beach in Thailand during a monsoon, a crappy day is a crappy day no matter how exotic your zip code.

In fact, bad travel days sometimes feel worse than regular bad days. When things go wrong on the road they do in dramatic fashion: you get stranded at a bus station in the middle of the night or you end up in the hospital with the worst food poisoning of all time. Even if it’s not something that serious, the bad feelings are intensified by the fact that:

  1. You don’t have you usual support system
  2. You’re supposed to be having a good time! Travel guilt is the worst: you came all this way and paid all this money and for whatever reason you are still miserable. That more than anything can really drag you down even further.

So what can you do to combat a really bad travel day (or even worse, a series of bad travel days)? Here are my tips:

Don’t Beat Yourself Up

As I mentioned above, sometimes bad days are just a part of life. It’s okay to be miserable even if you’re in paradise. Beating yourself up just puts you into a shame spiral that makes everything a million times worse. So refuse to police your thoughts. Instead, either ride it out or work to fix the situation.

Spoil Yourself

After a really crappy day, it’s okay to spend a little extra on something you wouldn’t normally. A nice meal out, a cool souvenir or even a private hostel room might be just the thing to lift your spirits. I’ll never forget nightmarish overnight bus ride in Laos and how much splurging on a Thai massage helped keep me sane that day.

Be careful of drowning your sorrows in alcohol though, that sometimes makes the problem worse.

Stop what’s NOT Working

Sometimes it’s just bad luck but oftentimes travel feels wrong when you are pushing too hard for something that is just not you.

When you find yourself unhappy for many days in a row, it might be time to consider a location change.If you’re an introvert, you probably can’t make yourself love a party town like Vang Vieng, and if you’re a city person than being way out in the country might bore you no matter what you do.

Vent Somewhere

If everything is just going against you, it never hurts to let off some steam, either on the internet (one of the perks of having a blog) or to a friend or family member back home. In truly dire situations even writing my angst out in a notebook has helped immensely. Once you get all of those negative thoughts into the world, they are no longer rattling around your head causing trouble.

Accept that today is just going to suck but it will be over soon

There’s a certain zen-like feeling in just accepting that the day is ruined and there’s nothing to be done about it. When all else fails, just give in and wait for tomorrow to come.

How do you cure a bad travel day?

  • Andre V.

    Excellent and original article! Bad travel days are horrible sometimes and make us question almost everything in our lives. Thank you for the tips. Although very simple and immediate, they are effective.

  • Andre V.

    Excellent and original article! Bad travel days are horrible sometimes and make us question almost everything in our lives. Thank you for the tips. Although very simple and immediate, they are effective.

  • http://www.sixvaser.com/ John Cain

    Best thing to do is forget the dorms and get a private room or a hotel for a day or two.

  • http://www.sixvaser.com/ John Cain

    Best thing to do is forget the dorms and get a private room or a hotel for a day or two.

  • http://twitter.com/IndecisiveRease Rease Kirchner

    The first big trip I ever took on my own, I got a serious case of travel guilt. It was only my 2nd day on the 3 week trip, but everything went wrong. My friend and I were miserable and the worst part was the guilt we felt because we felt miserable on vacation. We split up for a few hours so we didn’t feed out negativity by rubbing off on each other, got a good night’s sleep and planned a better day the next day. I usually just take a step back, get some ice cream, and move on. 

  • http://twitter.com/IndecisiveRease Rease Kirchner

    The first big trip I ever took on my own, I got a serious case of travel guilt. It was only my 2nd day on the 3 week trip, but everything went wrong. My friend and I were miserable and the worst part was the guilt we felt because we felt miserable on vacation. We split up for a few hours so we didn’t feed out negativity by rubbing off on each other, got a good night’s sleep and planned a better day the next day. I usually just take a step back, get some ice cream, and move on. 

  • http://twitter.com/TravelandGraphs Ryan McCoy

    Agree with John, my cure for a bad travel day is to be alone for a good stretch of time and do as little as possible.

  • http://twitter.com/TravelandGraphs Ryan McCoy

    Agree with John, my cure for a bad travel day is to be alone for a good stretch of time and do as little as possible.

  • http://www.solofemalenomad.com/ Elle of Solo Female Nomad

    This post came at just the right time as I have had my first bad travel day. A taxi driver in Peru kindly pointed out that my large denomination note was counterfeit! Not only did I lose out on money but i also come accross as a dishonest traveler. So yes, bad travel day. I like your point number 2. That is the guilt that you should be happy and having a good time. I think you have to let yourself have a bad day and take it easy. We have to all realise that we are allowed to have bad travel days!!

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      Oh no! Careful with those large bills. I’ve also heard some of those taxi drivers switch to a fake note while you’re not looking then claim you handed them the fake note.

  • http://www.solofemalenomad.com/ Elle of Solo Female Nomad

    This post came at just the right time as I have had my first bad travel day. A taxi driver in Peru kindly pointed out that my large denomination note was counterfeit! Not only did I lose out on money but i also come accross as a dishonest traveler. So yes, bad travel day. I like your point number 2. That is the guilt that you should be happy and having a good time. I think you have to let yourself have a bad day and take it easy. We have to all realise that we are allowed to have bad travel days!!

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      Oh no! Careful with those large bills. I’ve also heard some of those taxi drivers switch to a fake note while you’re not looking then claim you handed them the fake note.

  • http://letsgo-travel.com/ Ken

    Stephanie, I like your post…it’s important to overcome your bad travel day so that the “bad” mood wouldn’t keep on “spoil” your journey

  • http://letsgo-travel.com/ Ken

    Stephanie, I like your post…it’s important to overcome your bad travel day so that the “bad” mood wouldn’t keep on “spoil” your journey

  • prime_sarmiento

    Thanks for sharing this article such a great post very useful tips and information. Spoil your self I think that’s the best idea to take all the worries and bad moods.

  • Jaryd Krause

    I hate those retched bad travel days and your article explains perfectly how to deal with these occurrences. One great way I deal with these is by being alone and thinking about the past few places I have been and what I have done. This brings on a sense of achievement and helps me to relax for a day or 2 as though I feel I have deserved it. Could work for others too, but Cheers, this is a really great blog

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      That’s a great idea!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • Jaryd Krause

    I hate those retched bad travel days and your article explains perfectly how to deal with these occurrences. One great way I deal with these is by being alone and thinking about the past few places I have been and what I have done. This brings on a sense of achievement and helps me to relax for a day or 2 as though I feel I have deserved it. Could work for others too, but Cheers, this is a really great blog

    • http://artofadventuring.com/ Michael

      That’s a great idea!
      Thanks for reading and commenting!