Over this past month, I have been doing a lot of travel both with friends and on my own. The majority of the time, everything goes smoothly. Flights are on time, street maps are correct, and everyone gets to where they need to go.
However, as it goes with travel, this is not always the case. A couple of weeks ago, I had a stressful run-in at a bus station in Prague. My fellow traveler and I had booked our tickets in person at the bus station to return to Freiburg from Prague. After confirming multiple times with the ticket man, we felt confident that all our travel plans were set. However, when we got to the bus station to head home, we were told out tickets were for the next day. When we finally figured out what the issue was, we had less than five minutes to book new tickets before the bus was taking off. And the driver made it very clear, the bus would be taking off with or without us.
It definitely threw us into a moment of panic. We had so carefully planned all of our travel, so we did not expect the last portion of our trip to be the one that gave us so much trouble. It took us a minute to regroup, but eventually, we got the tickets and made it home.
When studying abroad, stressful travel events are unavoidable. With the amount of travel that study abroad students do, chances are that something will go wrong every once in a while. It’s important to remember that while these mishaps seem like huge deals at the time, they can be good lessons.
This travel slip has made me a more careful traveler in the last couple of trips I have done. I make sure to confirm all tickets and passes, regardless of what kind of transportation I am taking. Even for short bus rides, I make sure that I have everything set. I have also been printing my tickets as an additional safety net. Before, I relied on apps on my phone. However, in case your phone dies or you do not have access to the internet at the moment, it’s not a bad idea to have them on paper as well.
It’s also important to remember to arrive at bus stations, train stations, and airports with plenty of time before your trip leaves. This ensures that if something goes wrong or a trip is early (it can happen), you are there and ready to go. If my friend and I had not arrived to the Prague bus station with plenty of time, we would not have had the time to get our new tickets sorted out. It would have resulted in us staying an additional night in Prague, all because we arrived a bit late to the station.
I think one of the most important lessons that this reminded me was to stay alert. This includes paying attention to people around you in public spaces, paying attention to where you store your valuables, and paying attention to the date that’s printed at the top of your ticket. It’s easy to get swept in the excitement of travel and forget how big a deal it is that we get to travel all over the world with study abroad.