Travel Experiences That You Don’t Expect

One of the things I love most about traveling is that it can be a metaphor for other parts of our life. Outside of familiar surroundings, we are apt to be more alert, more conscious. In such situations we frequently gain new skills—like learning how we respond to unexpected delays and distractions.

It was a discovery I made after spending 10 days with my siblings in Lucca, Italy.

I planned to take a train to Venice, spend a bonus afternoon in my favorite city, and fly home the next day.

That plan began to unravel when I went to purchase my train ticket and discovered that a 24-hour strike was planned for exactly the time I wanted to travel. After making numerous calls to find an alternative option, I was assured that some trains would be running. What I wasn’t told was that I’d be making a five-hour side trip to Bologna. That little surprise didn’t arrive until we’d gotten off the train in Bologna.

Realizing that there was nothing I could do about the change in plans, I decided to look for the gift in the delay. Although, I suspected I was being naively optimistic. Nevertheless, I attached myself to the Del Prado family from the Philippines who were traveling with their five children.

Wing, the mother, was not handling the delay well so I invited her to have a cappuccino with me. When I told her about my efforts to encourage entrepreneurship and self-employment, she lit up.

“You’re talking about me,” she exclaimed.

She was excited to tell me about her business selling handmade children’s clothing. Her husband, she said, was also an entrepreneur, running their ranch. Their eldest son, Ramon, was an animator who was about to have his first film shown on television back home.

While getting to know this entrepreneurial family was great fun, the other thing that was obvious was how kind they were to one another. That same kindness was extended to me and when we finally parted company at the train station in Venice, we were all on the verge of tears. “Thank you for making our trip so pleasant,” said Mr. Del Prado. “We will always think of you as, Auntie Barbara.”

As I walked off in the darkness to my hotel, I immediately noticed the sidewalks were covered with water. Raised platforms had been brought in to make walking possible.

When I got to the hotel, I was told there had been such a storm all day that it looked like a hurricane was coming. Had I arrived at the time I wanted to, I’d have gotten drenched and been confined to my hotel room for the afternoon.

Meeting the Del Prados was a lot more fun.

When things aren’t happening as rapidly as you’d like, start looking for the gift in the delay.

Right now, you may be putting plans in place for your overseas move. Is success arriving more slowly than you expected? Are you tempted to abandon your great idea?

Perhaps you need to slow down a minute, let go a lot, and take another look. Maybe you need time to develop skills for handling new levels of success with grace.

Or maybe your ideas are a bit ahead of the market and it needs time to catch up to your vision. Or possibly what looks like a delay is actually an opportunity to discover something even better than you’d planned.

There’s always a gift if you look for it.

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