This post is a bit off topic compared to my normal stream of lifestyle related articles but after a fairly recent press trip gone awry I felt like venting in a constructive and hopefully encouraging manner.
While this will likely make more sense to other writers, I think that all of us have had to deal with toxic travelers at some time or another.
Perhaps you picked the wrong travel buddy or got in with the wrong group of hostel goers during your round-the-world trip. Hopefully my experience will relate to one of your own.
Let me set the scene. About two days into a trip through a gorgeous country, one “journalist” started causing issues.
After calling another member of the group a racist simply because she was not dating a man from a different ethnicity, she later repeatedly poked me with an umbrella.
As ridiculous as this sounds, and it was indeed ridiculous, I was appalled that I was being physically assaulted by someone twice my age.
Are you curious to know the reason why I received multiple pokes into my left leg? Well apparently I didn’t anticipate that she would actually put her camera to good use and I snapped a photo at the same time – thus “blocking her shot”.
It was an easy mistake to make. Her previous comments consisted purely of complaints ranging from “I don’t like this dish” to “why wasn’t I offered tea with my dessert” sort of thing. I honestly had no knowledge that she even owned a camera.
Making matters worse, she refused to apologize, instead insisting that I apologize for purposely standing in front of her. I felt like I was in the middle of Alice in Wonderland because logic was immediately brushed aside.
So after this person was supposed to get kicked off the trip, she didn’t and so I was stuck having to be in her presence the remaining three days. It was harder than I expected and as a result I wasn’t able to regain my focus on the destination, which is the prime reason I accept press trips in the first place.
If I could turn back the clock, I would keep these five simple yet effective tips in mind.
1) Channel your Inner Gandhi
As I mentioned, it took a lot of effort not to harshly put her in her place. After the initial poke, I stood there utterly stunned and confused about what had just occurred. We were in front of our local guide and I couldn’t think of a worse time to physically injure someone. I’m naturally shy believe it or not but one thing living in New York has taught me is to stand up for myself, which I did but I could have done a lot more damage.
2) Keep your Sanity
This was my biggest struggle. It’s surprisingly hard to keep your sanity in check when there is a looney on the loose. Luckily, every other person on the trip was on the same page and having sane minds around was invaluable. One skill I wished I had mastered in time was figuring out a way to avoid her at all costs but as we were a small group, there’s only so much distance you can put between you and the other party.
3) Use it as a Lesson Learned
While my leg did take a bit of a beating (this umbrella was unnecessarily large), I did learn something through this odd experience. Seeing how someone could go on a trip to such a beautiful destination and turn it into a “glass half empty” scenario made me promise myself that if I ever get to this negative level of viewing travel, I will not travel anymore. Yes, press trips are work and not vacation, but travel is travel and that’s not something I plan on taking for granted.
4) Feel Good About Yourself
Tying a few of these tips together brings me to my fourth point. Watching someone older than me behave so childishly made me feel like I must be doing something right. I may be the youngest member of every trip I go on but at least I handle myself professionally. Of course I’m nowhere near perfect, nobody is, but I left the trip feeling grateful for my blog, my integrity and of course, my sanity.
5) Remember What Matters
Again, this comes back to blocking out the negative influences around you and staying close to positive energy. As angry as I was about the whole incident, what calmed my nerves was remembering what really matters in my life. I truly believe that you teach people how to treat you yet there are always moments where logic goes out the door and you can’t explain why someone does something hurtful.
Be your own best friend when others aren’t around