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How Do You Turn Around A Really Bad Start?

Our day began very early in the sunny city of Brisbane, Australia. We were gently woken by my iPhone’s alarm at 5am in the morning — we had plenty of time to get ready before we caught our flight to Bali.

Everything was going according to plan. Despite the early wake up, even our toddler, Amaya, was happily enjoying walking to the train station and the train ride to the airport, followed by watching Dora the Explorer on a big screen in an airport cafe.

At 8:50am, we boarded our flight, which took off soon after. Slowly but surely, Amaya became unsettled. We did our best, but one of the flight attendants seemed to be getting annoyed. Amaya’s television screen kept freezing up (never get in the way of a toddler watching the Wiggles) so in search for more to do, she occasionally walked across the isle between my partner and I, sometimes stopping the attendant in her tracks. The attendant shortly and sternly muttered, “Be careful!” It was okay though, I breathed and survived, especially since Amaya had been jumping all over my lap and trying her luck at a feed for most of the flight (we’re weaning). When we arrived in Bali 6 hours later though, we were all starting to feel really tired, and a little worse for wear.

With two luggage trolleys and Amaya asleep in the Ergo, the five of us made our way towards the airport’s exit. Before us, a sea of Balinese drivers patiently awaited newly arrived travellers, waving placards with their names. I suddenly wondered if our transfers had actually been confirmed, since we hadn’t received a confirmation since we made our booking the day before.

No-one was there to pick us up!

My partner, Doug, went to the service desk to have an announcement made, as the flight was 25 minutes early. Who knew, maybe they were still coming? We waited a little longer, but decided to ask the service desk to call the place where we were staying.

What we found out was not only would there be no transfer, but they couldn’t even see our booking… and they were an hour and a half from the airport. The receptionist’s english wasn’t great and the kids were growing increasingly restless, so in order to avoid a coup, I told Doug to cancel the booking, so we could find somewhere close by to pass out rest until the next day.

While we sat in a cafe and the kids drank iced chocolates, I found a Balinese villa that looked simply amazing, and it offered all the features that were important to us. It had wifi so I could get some work done, cable TV for the kids (so they could chill out and watch some english programming), breakfast included for the first night and that all important air conditioning. We always have a rest day after a travel day and this place hit the spot! So I booked it.

It was even shorter notice than the last booking we made, but heck, I wanted to rest our weary heads somewhere comfortable and it offered a great last minute price.

As we walked towards our driver’s car, I didn’t notice a small patch of water which felt as slippery as detergent. I hit the deck hard, landing on my left knee. Thankfully it was a rare occasion where I wasn’t carrying Amaya, but I was in a great deal of pain, and I started to feel frustrated about our start so far. The day had been testing, exhausting, frustrating and painful. Thank goodness we were minutes away from a beautiful Balinese villa with everything we needed — then it would all be over.

We made it to the villa!

On arrival at the villa, I started to relax. The two-storey property was HUGE and had all the beautiful Balinese features you see in magazines — the dreamy day bed amongst perfectly manicured, green gardens. A rectangular fish pond that spanned the width of the entrance, full of goldfish, peacefully swimming along. Huge glass sliding doors and high ceilings. A private pool out the back. It just felt amazing. But unfortunately, our bad luck kept on coming.

Not long after we put our bags away, the owner and staff came in to visit, we were asked to pay for the room in cash, because they had no credit card facilities — even though we booked online via a booking site, it was just to secure the booking. So In order for them to get paid, they wanted to drive us back into town to go to an ATM and back. We were absolutely stuffed having been awake so long and after a big flight and a scramble to find accommodation – I was too much. Grudgingly, they agreed we could do it in the morning.

While I understand that most people come to places like this to relax, I needed to be able to access my emails and contact my developer after an important development day. However, we were informed wifi was not working. We also discovered cable tv wasn’t working due to a storm the previous day, so there was nothing to watch but Indonesian programming behind snowstorm image distortion.

There was no tea, coffee or milk in the room to have a relaxing hot drink after our big day.  Anyone who knows me will understand what a disaster having no tea is for me, hehe!

A glimmer of light amongst the exhaustion and stress was when the staff — two Indonesian women with broken English — offered to cook us a BBQ dinner. All we needed to do was to pay for the shopping and they would go buy the groceries and then cook it for us. Things started to look up.

One of the staff looked after the shopping and cooking, while the other started cleaning for us. In horror we watched as she slipped over on the front step.

Sporting a bruise the size — and colour — of a plum below my knee, I had de ja vu of the airport. I was feeling exhausted, sick (I was fighting off a mild infection), run down and beaten up, aching from hip to toe. Little did I know, I was yet to slip over again as the cleaner had — but this time, while holding Amaya.

The next morning, I fell hard on a step, cutting my foot on the sharp edge. It started to bleed and I started to fume. Prior to my second fall, Amaya had fallen over 5 times in 10 minutes – it was like an ice-skating rink. Both Doug and my eldest daughter, Marisa, slipped on the pavers out the front, but they were thankfully able to balance themselves.

The last straw was that there was no breakfast provided as per the booking page. We were hungry, there was no cafe within walking distance, the staff were nowhere to be found and at that point, we just wanted to get out as soon as we could. We thought we understood from the cleaner that she would be at the villa at 8am, but her English was very bad. So we waited until 9am local time, which was 12pm AEST, before we couldn’t take it any more – everyone was hungry (especially the poor, ropable toddler) and we had no wifi or phone in the room to call anyone or get anywhere.

I ended up using my Australian phone to make a call for $20 (just a few minutes) to organise a transfer from our villa to a resort we planned in advance. We didn’t care that our room was highly likely unready, we had to get out of the villa. It was horrible.

This was all not to mention that we had an argument with the staff, as we wanted them to help us drive to the ATM to pay them, but they kept saying “You no leave with bags!” We were also informed that we needed to pay them extra for cooking the BBQ, when we were told it was just shopping. It just became more and more ridiculous.

But despite all that, we finally arrived at our new destination, cranky, hungry and ready to meltdown. So, how do you recover from that? What good can you take from it?

Telling our story actually helped us to laugh about it, as wound up as we were at the time. But, I thought about it a great deal and came up with six ways to help to quickly turn a bad travel experience around, so you don’t ruin the better experiences.

1. Realise It Was Only One Experience

Just like relationships or marriage, people tend to pour a sour view on everything based on one bad experience. When you think about it, it was one tiny representative of many opportunities. It was a lesson learnt, so don’t take one experience to heart as being the way things are. It would be easy for some people to say, “I hate Bali, I’m not coming back!” But those who know what Bali is really like will tell you that it’s not at all like that everywhere.

2. Care For Yourself

When you’re tightly wound up (and sore all over in my case!) it’s time to care for yourself. Don’t seek to feel better by yelling, blaming or unhealthy habits (smoking, drinking, eating – whatever your vice) as you need to put yourself first. You need to see that you can cope with these intense emotions and get past them on your own, in order to get better at handling them.

My partner lovingly ran me a bath and sent me to the bathroom. As much as I resisted and worried about my cut foot stinging, as soon as I sunk into it, my worries melted away. He even brought me a cup of tea and my laptop incase I wanted to work. Nawww.

3. Get Out In Nature

Nature is so very calming, grounding and soothing. Again, as much as I resisted due to the size of my to-do list, grounding was the most important thing I needed. As Tony Robbins says, ‘change your environment!’ It was exactly what I needed, and it works every time!

I chose to join the family and explore the grounds of our new hotel. It was as if it knew I needed it. I was mesmerised by what was around me, rather than being in front of a screen in a room where I was a snowballing stress ball. Peace fell over me.

4. Exercise

If you have the opportunity, get some exercise. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. It’s well known that exercise helps stimulate those happy hormones, and is great for your immune system. It’s a great mood booster for those with anxiety and depression.

5. Write About It

This has definitely been therapy for me. Going as far as having a ritual of starting off your day writing down everything in your head to help clear it before you begin is a great way to have a better day. Especially if you are a creative person or a writer, it’s really freeing to just write whatever you’re thinking down, so you can start the day without a head full of cars racing along on a super freeway.

6. Care For Your Thoughts

It’s too easy to slip into a negative headspace at times like this. Thoughts become feelings, and feelings become beliefs.

Like many business owners, I’m a big believer in the law of attraction — what you think about, you attract to you. For example, if you keep thinking about how bad it is, you will see and feel more bad experiences.

If you focus on gratitude and seeing the good in things, you will see and feel more good things. Feeling bad does not feel good, and it wont do anything to change your circumstances. You’re also more likely to make worse decisions when you feel bad.

So be sure to care for your thoughts, because it can impact on your experiences more than you realise. It’s okay to feel a range of feelings, just don’t get stuck there.

How do you turn your bad experiences upside down?


Kelly Winder is the creator of BellyBelly.com.au, a doula, writer and mother to three awesome children. Currently she's travelling the world for 12 months with her partner and three children, and hopes to inspire more families to do the same.

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