Coping with failures

A quick guide

Every traveler makes mistakes. Mistakes that ruin a whole day's work, a whole trip, and cost money or cost time.

"Don't let it bother you"

"Oh, really? I shouldn't let it bother me? Why didn't I think of that?". Sarcasm may apply ;-)
This is an annoying and uninvested thing to hear. If you're not bothered by a mistake, then you just don't care about what you're doing.

It's okay to be upset, sad, angry or whatever emotion your mistake triggers.

What needs to be done is let the negative feelings do their thing. Once they settle, you can start laughing and learning.

I once came back from a 25km hike, only to find out I was supposed to have checked out from the hostel 5 hours earlier. Sitting there, on the street in late afternoon, hungry, tired and with no place to stay. Was I pissed? Yes. But is it a funny story? Also yes. And I'm (almost) sure I won't make that mistake again.

If you want to become a great traveller, you have to make mistakes. You will make mistakes, and many of them. It's part of the game.

Afraid of the wrong direction

This abandoned mining plant in Slovakia is what got me hooked on urban exploration
Fear is a wall. And it does what most walls do so well: Keep people from what's on the other side.

If you want to explore, you need to make errors, mistakes and failed trips. If exploration was rewarding all the time, it wouldn't be exploration. We're going where few people go, and there's usually a reason for that.

The reason we go anyway, is because now and then we find treasures! And that feeling is like few others.

For instance, I love urban exploration. It's not something I specifically set out to do, but it kind of happens along the way, when I just explore in general.

But exploration may become demoralising at times, when you walk from failure to failure. When there's stalemate, and you don't really find anything interesting. This could have a couple of causes though.

The seemingly obvious conclusion is that you're exhausted. When you travel long-term it's easy to appreciate incredible things less, because you see incredible things all the time.

But another possible conclusion is that you've "lost your ways". Maybe you're running in circles, and unintentionally don't really seek out the places where there is something to explore. Maybe, you're afraid of a failed trip?

In conclusion

Mandatory cheesy "happy person on top of the world" photo
You can't avoid mistakes. What you can do, is put them to good use, put them under your belt and use them as a tool in the future.

And never forget that every traveller makes mistakes. Every traveller gets frustrated, upset or angry. It's natural. We love what we do, why would a setback not bother us?

Stalemates also happen. I try to think of them as world economics. No matter what we do, it will always go up and down on its own. You need the downs to appreciate the hell out of the ups.

And most important of all: Remember why you explore and/or travel. Those times where everything works out the way they're supposed to, or something unexpected yet amazing happens. That's what we live for!