Travis’ IPod is currently missing, and while he is frantically sprinting back to the place we were staying, I find myself standing guard over our remaining belongings in the Sibiu train station.
Thinking back over our previous travel adventures, I have to admit we’ve been pretty lucky. Aside from almost forgetting our laptop and Travis’ wallet in the Copenhagen airport due to a migraine-induced momentary lapse of reason, and a frantic journey across Lisbon when we realized we were in the wrong bus station, we have had relatively few incidents of note. And save from a mistimed punch to the side a few weeks ago that cracked said IPod’s screen and a few colds here and there, we really haven’t suffered much loss to person or property.
We have never been pickpocketed or robbed. Never scammed (too badly) by a cabbie, and never had anything stolen from our room. Most of our minor mishaps have been a result of our stupidity or honest mistakes (like forgetting a your IPod on the bed). As we periodically read about other travel bloggers’ horror stories, we can’t help but feel grateful – although I’m sure Travis doesn’t feel that way right now.
Thinking about these things as I sit in the station, I can’t help wonder if we’ve learned anything during our 7+ months of traveling. Are we still as naive as the moment we emerged bright-eyed in the middle of a bustling London at rush hour, immediately feeling overwhelmed and intimidated. Have we absorbed any of the posts on travel tips written by our fellow travel bloggers? Has traveling made us better travelers?
30 minutes ago, with the misconception that Travis’ iPod was safely tucked in his coat pocket, I would have proudly defended our travel style as smart and responsible. And to be honest, it almost certainly still is. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that you really have no way to gauge how successful your trip will be until a situation arises. In the end, despite all the planning, maybe it is just left to circumstance.
We’ve read so many tales of people who have had horrifying experiences. And these are savvy and smart world travelers whose experience is second to none. It would be inaccurate to attribute these unfortunate events to poor traveling sense as in most cases it is simply “being in the wrong place at the wrong time”.
Sure, sometimes we have to take the blame. Just yesterday we were making our way back to our guesthouse in Romania when we stopped to count to make sure we had enough money to pay for our room. Standing in the middle of a street at night with 600 RON (nearly $200 – the average monthly income in Romania is around $600/month!) was an admittedly stupid thing to do – and to be fair we quickly realized that we were being foolish and walked back to our room to count it. Sometimes you forget you are traveling and simply revert back to old habits.
As I see Travis running back to the train station (he looks pleased), I know that while this predicament is mainly self-inflicted, chance always seems to have her sticky little fingers in everything we do. Being a good traveler seems to be a combination of preparedness, awareness, and the ability to react and adapt to adverse situations with a calm and cool head.
For those interested, Travis did indeed manage to get his IPod. As the people that run the guesthouse were not around, it only took him scaling the gate, wriggling his fingers and a stick into the locked metal mailbox we dropped our keys in, and simply walking back into our room to grab it off the bed. He is complaining that his fingers hurt – but I think he’d rather have sore fingers AND his IPod than no sore fingers!
Thankfully the cost of this little incident was only $14, the cost of our now unused train tickets. On the plus side, the bus we took that left an hour after our scheduled train departure, arrived 50 minutes ahead of schedule (as our driver was apparently Mario Andretti) and we arrived on time to meet our AirBNB host in Brasov!
If you’ve ever had an unfortunate experience or have thoughts on developing as a traveler, let us know in the comments!