Accidental Tourist? Tips for Maximizing Happy Coincidences and Avoiding Bad Ones
Accidents happen when you travel.
The bad accidents -- the fender-benders, the missed airline connections the unfortunate food-borne illnesses -- are the ones that come to mind first, of course.
Here's one from Cindy Barthi, a hotel reservationist from
"The valet attendants had some very sad faces as we approached them with our claim check," she says. "The general manager met us and this is what he showed us: A palm tree had come down on our car during the winds."
Oops. Good thing Barthi wasn't in the car.
You don't necessarily think about the happy accidents, though. Like the terrific restaurant you discovered while wandering through a medieval European town, or that cutie you met on the train and is now your pen pal. We think of these, instead, as one of the unexpected benefits of travel.
But they're really the other side of the same coin. Accidents -- good and bad -- happen when we're away. More so, maybe, because there's a certain randomness about travel -- a sense that the unexpected can happen.
For better or worse.
No one has tried to quantify the happy coincidences, like meeting the love of your life while you're on vacation or finding the best hot dog stand ever, at least not that I'm aware of. But a recent poll by the
Sometimes, bad accidents can lead to good things. Barthi's hotel did everything in its power to make things right, including finding her a replacement rental car and ensuring that her damaged vehicle was repaired quickly. "They even offered us a certificate for two free nights," she says. (Next time, she may ask the valet to park her car away from any palm trees.)
So how do you maximize the happy coincidences -- and avoid the bad ones? I asked the real experts -- travelers like you -- for your advice. Here's what you told me:
Be open to new experiences. Happy accidents happen when you are open to trying new things.
Adjust your perspective. Sometimes a different perspective can make for happier accidents. Tour guide
Timing is everything. Happy coincidences are often a matter of fortuitous timing.
One more thing: The line between a happy accident and an unhappy one isn't always clear. Take the case of professional triathlete
Eventually, the book caught the interest of a publisher, and turned into a line of food products, all because of one traffic accident.
So was that accident desirable or not? In the short term, no, but the long-term consequences were arguably positive for Brazier's career.
In other words, even a bad accident can sometimes turn out for the best.
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(c) 2010 Christopher Elliott
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