Commentary

Travel to Fail

Written by Carl Hedinger

“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.” ― Franklin D. Roosevelt, Looking Forward

I recently read about the not-so-glamorous side of travel and thought, that’ll never be me. Had I known what a disaster our recent trip would become, would I do it again?

Absolutely.

Why? Because we have to travel and find out that a plan didn’t work, and that our plans should’ve considered this weekend as the last long holiday for months. When an itinerary seems rock solid, its cracks  grow wider and more obvious after they’re exposed.

We were battling against hordes of other cars hoping to check off their spring festival bucket lists, while ours continued to shrink thanks to the emerging time constraints. This seemed normal, judging from the roadside vendors that casually walked through lanes of traffic offering food and drink. So many cars coasted through picking up a coffee or snack.

They knew. Why didn’t we?

Was it a Failcation?

No.

Regardless of the miserable gridlock and anguish, there was always some gold found along the way. Chuncheon was otherwise sleepy and full on hotel rooms for the night, but its wonderful dalk galbi and lovely river bike path eased our nerves before jockeying for a spot on the floor in a noisy jimjilbang.

Guinsa was a memorable place to spend an afternoon, thanks to its beautiful temple mountain that led us through one of the more beautiful lantern displays found in Korea. Mix this with a maze-like procession of prayer halls and buildings designed to help the less fortunate, and I was beginning to forget our problems the day before.

Would we have found any of this without failing on our earlier missions? Probably not, and that leads me to believe that we shouldn’t just travel to succeed and see everything that’s on the list.

.

We Should Also Travel to Fail.

What do we really stand to lose when traveling? Is the end goal really seeing those places that you meant to visit, and nothing else? While battling every desire to lose it and go crazy during our travel mishaps, a variety of music and chatter helped us through this battle.

Something worth singing really helped keep morale up when it threatened to tank. Sometimes the trip isn’t about the destination, but instead about the journey—and who you spend it with. What other time would I have to play, “Name a country, city, state that starts with….” with my wife?

Editing and reworking our travel plans was not so easy, being in a foreign land with travel guides that don’t offer up to date reports on road construction and seasonal festivities. Had someone else warned us away from going this route, would we have stayed at home?

Probably Not.

If we’d never left our town and played it safe during the weekend, maybe we’d have never found out that one destination was in the midst of a festival coupled with a complete road overhaul. I couldn’t hear that from anyone else and be happy with not driving through it, because why go through life following hearsay and the words of others?

What’s the point of travel if we’re always following the words and opinions of others? Sometimes we need to travel without directions, and sometimes regret that decision. How else are we going to grow and become more comfortable with our intuition?

Go out and Fail. Learn from It.

We’ll never reach the top without hitting bottom, and that comes with failing.

That’s why I travel. I travel to fail, so I can eventually succeed.

Want to read more about Why I Travel? Click here

About the author

Carl Hedinger

I’m a writer and recovering American expat who shares my family’s travels through life. Follow our adventures here and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

12 Comments

  • Great post! The Roosevelt quote is great. I’ve recently been learning this lesson the hard way. It’s not only a lesson to be learned in travel, but I found that continuing to move forward despite failings and hardship is crucial. Just keep moving forward. Do something. Anything. Great post, really enjoy reading your stuff. Cheers

  • So glad to read this post Duke – it’s very refreshing to hear someone embracing the fact that travel isn’t always going to be glamorous, but you know what, that’s ok!! And it really is the failures along the way which make us stronger people, and set us up with the abilities to go with the flow and adapt to life on the go. Because these are life skills too!

    I definitely think you have to be willing to fail to reach great heights. Because it’s not the fact that something didn’t go the way you expected which matters – it’s about how you learn to handle those situations and how you get back up.

    Loved this post – loved reading something very honest and very real. Thanks!

    Meg @ Mapping Megan

    • Wow! Thanks so much for your kind and thoughtful comment, Megan. I appreciate you calling it “honest and real” because that was my main goal here. I wanted to tear down the preconceptions that travel is always sparkly, cute, and clean.

      Much appreciated!

      Take Care.

  • Absolutely! I was always afraid of missing targets, of seeming like a ‘failure’ if I didn’t do everything i set myself out to do, felt like I let myself and everyone else down if things happened en-route that prevented me from doing them.

    But really, the very fact of doing *something* means that we never ‘fail’ when travelling; whatever happens is, in itself, something that you wouldn’t have achieved just by staying at home.

    🙂

    • Very true! I think that’s the point when you get started, huh? “Just go somewhere and let the rest play out” is something I really think everyone should know and understand.

      Unfortunately, I sometimes get carried away and am too worried about marking off places visited instead of enjoying the trip there.

      Thanks so much for your comment. It really got me to thinking more about this. Btw, I stopped by your site and really liked it! Can’t wait to “dig in.” 🙂

  • Great read Duke! We typically remember the most challenging journeys. Although, they may not be as “funny” in the moment…they are usually the times we look back and laugh at. Thanks for sharing and thanks for all the support on our blog. 🙂

    • Thank you so much Megan! I really appreciate your comment and would love to hear some of your “most challenging” journeys.

      Btw, I loved your post about Tips to Keep Your Valuables Safe While Traveling. Lots to learn there!

  • Great post! Absolutely agree that you learn more from travel fails. I didn’t just intuitively KNOW how to pack a one bag packing list – when I started traveling I had a serious over packing habit. But like anything in life I learned from my mistakes till I became an expert

    • Wow, you are so right Jo! Travel and learning through trial and error is something I thought was just me. I thought everyone else had it all figured out. I’m so happy that an expert like yourself has also had to learn from past mistakes. Thanks for sharing that with me here.

  • Hi Carl,

    Yep, THIS is what travel is all about!

    I do set up trips and plan quite a bit but also adventure a bunch when I am in town. In our Bali village I take dogs for different walks every few days. I explore new roads through the jungles, different off shoots and new areas. Keeps things interesting. Ditto for our motorbike rides through the Bukit. Stuff gets stale and boring as hell, otherwise 😉

    You have yourself a great adventure today Carl 🙂

    Ryan

    • Thanks for the comment, Ryan!

      I am envious of you being in a Bali Village but have to report that we’ll be headed that way in September. Will you still be around then?