the wandering bean – when travel plans change
Adventures Europe

the wandering bean – when travel plans change

the spicy bean - when travel plans change -
After a long walk along the seafront in Barcelona I was starting to feel like I could get used to the whole solo travelling thing. I even plucked up the courage to take myself out for dinner and finally eat some proper food. That was the night before I was due to travel to Marseille, and I was feeling pretty good. A full belly and a renewed sense of adventure had me ready to get going again.

Fate was very much tempted by my new sense of security. I checked out of my Airbnb (by which I mean I left the keys on the table), and headed to a train station to get my ticket. With Interrail tickets most of the train travel is paid for, but on certain trains – typically those in popular tourist countries like Spain, France and Italy – you still need to make a reservation for the train. This adds about €10 per reservation, which I didn’t mind at all. The Interrail ticket is very good value and I got a lot out of it.

However it also adds the trial of actually booking the ticket. You need to go to the train station and actually interact with a person. And to my peril I learnt that you need to do this in advance. Getting from Madrid to Barcelona was so easy that I got complacent. I thought it would be fine to book my seat on the train just a couple of hours before my train departed. Gee, was I in for a shocker.

the spicy bean - when travel plans change -
Turns out travelling from Barcelona to France is VERY popular at the weekends. So popular in fact, that ALL the trains to France were booked. For the entire weekend. I found myself stuck in Barcelona for an extra night with nowhere to stay. At the time roaming was still expensive. I couldn’t call home, I had no internet, no way of knowing what to do.

Thankfully Dan helped calm me down so I could think clearly. This clarity led me to a conclusion that would actually make my trip better. While I was looking at things to do in Marseille, I stumbled upon a bunch of reviews and websites talking about how dangerous it is for tourists. I don’t know if this is true, because I didn’t end up going there. In my fragile state I decided I couldn’t deal with that kind of anxiety by myself. So I went to Geneva instead.

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Yep. That’s the beautiful thing about solo travel. You can just change your plans on a whim and you don’t need to ask anyone. I cancelled my Airbnb in Marseille, booked a hostel in Geneva, booked a train ticket for the next day, and off I went.

Being stuck in a foreign city on your own does teach you a few things about yourself and about how to cope when plans go awry.


When things go wrong it adds to the experience

the spicy bean - when travel plans change -
Why do people travel? We want to see new things, experience different cultures, and grow as people. Personal growth was a big part of my trip. Throughout my life I’ve been seen as “shy” and I hate it. As a result I’ve nurtured a bit of a complex about being boring and almost unworthy of people’s time. Ironically this has fed the perception of shyness creating a vicious circle.

Breaking out of my comfort zone by doing something as extreme as leaving the country on my own seemed like a sure way to fight some of these demons. By travelling, I thought I would become this interesting person, built up by the experience of hopping from country to country solo. It didn’t turn out quite that way.

With time, I’ve realised that while I may not have returned to the UK as a brand new outgoing person, I definitely did grow. My second solo travel adventure to Canada proved this. I felt a lot more relaxed despite travelling a lot further, and I didn’t get homesick.

Getting stuck in Barcelona gave me a great story to tell, and extra day in a fantastic city, and changed the way I think about life’s little curveballs. Definitely worth it.

 Flexibility is key

For most of my life I’ve been the kind of person who likes to plan things to the letter, and gets mad when it doesn’t quite go the way I imagined. It’s a frustrating way to live, and completely disregards the chance for adventure, the individuality of people, and the flow of real life. This is something that I’ve tried over the years to rid myself of. As a teenager I was a bit of a brute due to this obsession with having things exactly planned.

the spicy bean - when travel plans change -
My trip to Europe wasn’t meticulously planned. I tried to use it as an opportunity to feel the freedom of a less rigid schedule. However the airbnbs were all booked and the trips between all scheduled in my planner. I think I made the mistake of planning *just the wrong amount*. I wasn’t organised enough to book my train ticket in advance, but I was still working to an itinerary.

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The big lesson here for me was that it’s not necessarily planning that’s the problem. I can still allow myself to plan, as long as I keep an open mind. Acknowledging that my carefully set out route through Europe was likely to hit a few hiccups would have helped immensely. Perhaps then I wouldn’t have found myself on the edge of a meltdown at the train station.

Remember: things WILL turn out okay

It’s an exaggeration when I say I was in peril. I FELT like I was in great peril at the time, but realistically what’s the worst that could have happened? All I had to do to solve my problem was calm down and think about the options.

the spicy bean - when travel plans change -
From “shit I’ve got nowhere to go” to “it’s all sorted, I’m going to Geneva and I’m very excited” was a rollercoaster ride, but a very quick one. There was a solution. There were MANY solutions. I had money at my disposal. Not a lot, but enough. Once I’d panic bought a roaming day pass from EE I had the internet too. There’s not a lot you can’t do with those two things combined.

I tried to find an Airbnb and failed, so I found a hostel instead. Close to the train station – ideal, in a shared dorm – not ideal. But all I had to do was survive the night, and that seemed very likely. So I was okay. Everything was okay.

The next day I stepped foot in Geneva. I was only there for one night and part of the next morning. The small part of the city I saw was lovely. It’s true that it’s really clean and tidy, but it also boasts beautiful gardens and scenic views across the river. With hindsight, not only did things turn out okay, they turned out better.

the spicy bean - when travel plans change -

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5 thoughts on “the wandering bean – when travel plans change”

  1. When any plans change or don’t go my way, I panic and causes me to have anxiety. So I have to learn to be more flexible with plans and my attitude towards plans. Your pictures are beautiful. Thank you for sharing about your trip! X

    1. That’s what I used to be like (still am like actually sometimes) with plans and anxiety. I think the biggest part of the problem was I used to kind of play everything through in my head before I did it and imagine it exactly how I thought it would pan out. Obviously things never go exactly as you think, but because I’d already lived it in my mind it would screw with me when it didn’t go the same way again. It’s hard letting go of the panic, but it’s a journey full of little steps that all eventually make up to a big difference.

      1. Yeah that’s kind of how I do it as well and if plans change last minute I panic a bit because it’s new and I haven’t thought about that change. Well done for making steps to change that, as I know personally how hard that can be

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