I have to admit, before leaving to spend six weeks in Europe last summer I was nervous- not necessarily about my safety, the long flight, or the volunteer teaching program I was doing in Italy. I was nervous that I was going to sabotage my own trip by trying to control everything.
That may seem crazy, but I know that in general I struggle with feeling a need to be in control. However, every adventurer knows that things rarely go as planned. I knew there would be surprises on my trip, and I was hoping I would be able to let go of my desire to control each situation.
As expected, plenty of things went wrong. My phone was stolen, trains were delayed, hot water didn’t work, my group got lost on the way to Cinque Terre, I slept through my alarm, buses refused to stop for us, my luggage broke on the streets of Croatia... But it was all so chaotically wonderful and exciting!
The challenges that I was nervous about actually made the trip perfect in a way that I couldn't have planned. In fact, the times that didn’t go smoothly were some of the greatest parts of my trip. I have amazing stories and hilarious memories that I will never forget during my six weeks in Europe.
I laugh when I picture myself dragging my broken luggage around Croatia in the sweltering midday heat, having no shame that I was obviously a tourist. When our bus in Rome drove right past us without stopping at the bus stop, we had our own adventure navigating around the beautiful city and made new friends along the way. And I can't even count how many times we had to sprint through train stations so we wouldn't miss our train!
I am no travel expert, but last summer I learned that a good traveler is flexible, positive, and able to roll with the punches. It is impossible to control everything, and it’s probably good that we can’t, because we would miss out on so many unexpected surprises.
Great things happen when you travel that you cannot even imagine or prepare for. Luckily I was able to overcome my control issues and have an incredible time in Europe! I wouldn't change a thing!