Last month I was lucky enough to go to Ghent with one of my best friends for a weekend getaway. We’d been planning this trip for months (back in October of last year), and after saving up and finally pressing the ‘book now’ button, we were hyped to get going. Back when we booked it, I couldn’t wait to walk down cobblestone streets and to scout out local cafes. It would be my first adventure in a country abroad that I had never been to before, with a language I couldn’t speak and a best friend to accompany me through it. It was going to be amazing.
And then December hit.
To be brief, December 2018 was the start of a depressing domino effect. It could have been worse in the grand scheme of things. Luckily things have started brightening up earlier this month. But from December to late February, it was a struggle to keep myself together. Unfortunately, our visit to Ghent was amidst this cloud of bad feelings. Due to this, there were two key moments in our visit to Ghent that made me not want to travel.
It started as soon as my eyes opened on day one. My alarm sounds off at 2am, and by 3am, Jordan and I were supposed to be in the car on the way to Manchester Airport. I remember snoozing my alarm and covering my face with my hands. After what couldn’t have been more than four hours sleep, I really didn’t feel like getting in the car for a two-hour car journey to wait in line at airport security. I wanted to sleep: my happy place during bleak times. But this trip wasn’t just for me. I needed to think more positively. I was about to go on holiday after all. And with a friend too!
The feeling drifted away after a while but came back later that same day. We had come across a few benches by the River Lys and decided to stop to eat some of the snacks we had bought from the local Aldi while we figured out how to get to the city centre. Nibbling a packet of cookies and looking out at the reflections on the river, I realised I didn’t want to be here. I wanted to be in bed, covered in duvets, not on some random river with a broken GPS signal.
I want this to be clear: I still had an amazing time in Ghent. It was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve had to date, and I regret none of it. However, I’m sure a lot of other people have felt the same way before. Travelling can be super stressful and sometimes you can be having the best time just to have one phone call destroy it all. So in this article, I want to show you that you can still have a good time while you travel, even if you’re really not in the mood.
If you’re travelling with a friend, stick with them. They can help lift your mood and keep you company throughout your stay. They can give you that little push when you don’t feel like you can push yourself.
In these kinds of circumstances, it’s always important to look after yourself. Make sure you drink water, eat enough, wear suncream. Go find that cafe you saw on Instagram or float down the river on that boat tour you’ve been looking forward to. If you don’t feel up to doing something big that you had planned, just do smaller, more comfortable things. Make sure you’re looking after yourself.
I tend to distract myself from whatever thoughts are looming in my head, and travelling is one of the best ways to do so. Go down hidden alleyways and around crowded squares. Listen to the foreign languages and taste those national delicacies that you can’t ever find at home. Take in everything around you and focus on that instead.
Natural light is scientifically proven to make you happier. Improve your mood with minimal effort: sunbathe for an hour and drink in the sunny rays.
If you don’t travel when you can, when will you? Do you really want to wait a few more months just to see if your mood changes? Be grateful that you are able to take that long-awaited trip and take the chance while you can, because you may not have that chance again!
It’s important to remember that at the end of the day, everyone is different: everyone is dealing with their own disasters and everyone deals with them differently. If you can, don’t let your mood bring you down. You can get through it and still have a good time! So what are you waiting for? Get on that plane, jump into that pool and experience life while you still can.
A little side note: I want to say a massive thank you to Jordan. Without you, I don’t think I would have got up on day one. Thank you for helping me through my crap and making Ghent one of the best adventures yet 🙂
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