How to Survive those Bad Days Abroad

Travel isn't always sunshine and butterflies. Here's what I do when I'm having a bad day while abroad!It’s embarrassing to admit that, when traveling, I can have bad days.

But it happens.

There is nothing more enjoyable to me than traveling.  I will willingly be cheap in order to save for travel.

Travel brings out my favorite version of myself, and the adventure of traveling does wonderful things to my soul.

And then, when bad days happen when I’m traveling, I end up feeling even worse because I want to be having fun and enjoying myself, damnit!

So, in honor of my “I shouldn’t feel like this when I’m traveling in Italy!” moment from last week, here are the things I do to get over my cranky, miserable self on bad days.

Take a moment.

It all started when I couldn’t sleep, then ended up on the wrong tram while trying to get to the Trevi Fountain, then started my period, then showed up late to a meeting, then made a rookie mistake of printing out the wrong email for my train ticket, then missed my train to Florence, then couldn’t navigate the streets of Florence with my suitcase because of the huge number of tourists, and finally received a panino with a type of meat that I can’t stand.

With a beautiful view of the Ponte Vecchio on an otherwise perfect evening, I sobbed in my hotel room while whining about the panino.

I knew that, if I didn’t take time to cry like a toddler, I wouldn’t be able to break my mood.

It’s important to find a way to release the feelings you have in a positive way.  Listen to some music, cry, write about your emotions, do some yoga, talk to someone who is with you, go for a walk, or do whatever you usually do to refocus yourself.

I encourage you to think twice about calling back home on a bad day – you probably connect more with your friends or family when you’re having a rough time, and then they don’t hear as much about the great times (since you’re usually too busy having fun to talk to them).

(As proof, some of my friends still think I hated everything about living in Korea.  For the record, that isn’t true.)

Don’t guilt yourself.

As I was blubbering to myself in the hotel, I kept saying “*sniff sniff sniff* BUT I AM *sniff sniff* IN FLORENCE *internal and external wail*”

Yeah.  That only made it worse.

Let me say what I should have said to myself then – it’s okay to have those moments!

I would be lying if I said that traveling is always sunshine and butterflies and unicorns and glory.

(I mean, that’s what my pictures say, but those only show part of the story.)

Travel can be hard.  You are human.

Just have your feelings, let them out, and tell yourself that it’s okay to human today.

And then…

Give yourself some perspective.

I had to remind myself no fewer than 10 times that I was going to Cinque Terre the next day, and then would have time to visit the beautiful cities of Florence, Perugia, and Rome.

It went a little something like this:

“You’re going to *sniff sniff sniff* Cinque *shuddering breath* Terre tomorrow. *wheeze*”

“You’re going to *snort* Cinque Terre *blows nose* tomorrow.”


It took about twenty minutes of crying and repeating this before I accepted the fact that I had things to look forward to.

I made a deal with myself to wake up early the next day to walk the city alone so I could enjoy the city.  There’s nothing more enjoyable for me than having an early morning in a city by myself.

That did the trick.

Keep reminding yourself about why you’re doing what you’re doing and how much of a badass you are for traveling.

It’s hard to find that perspective on really bad days, but with perseverance you will come around!

Check yo’self.

If you’re feeling better, go easy on yourself for the remainder of the day.  Even if you’re not able to put yourself in a great mood that day, there’s always tomorrow.

(Also, there’s always cat videos on YouTube.)

However, if you are feeling anything else – numb, indifferent, anxious, angry, or anything harmful – it is a good idea to find someone to talk to in order to get back to your normal.  If you need a psychologist, visit or contact one.

Also, if you have previously had any depression, anxiety, eating disorders, or anything else, latent tendencies can resurface when in unfamiliar locations.

Again, check yo’self.

A bad day in Florence is still better than a good day anywhere else!

As they say, “a bad day in Florence is still better than a good day anywhere else.”

I’d have to agree.

Related Posts:
The “What the Hell Have I Done” Moment

15 Truths of Studying Abroad
Surviving the End of Study Abroad
Study Abroad Guide: Preparation Phase
Study Abroad Guide: Prepare for Anything

3 thoughts on “How to Survive those Bad Days Abroad

  1. Great tips! I’d like to stay that studying abroad is the bestest adventure 100% of the time, but the truth of the matter is, it is hard. There are extremely lonely and difficult and scary moments. In the end, those moments will become valuable memories that help you learn more about your goals and your world. Going through them isn’t fun.

  2. Truth! The afternoon I arrived in Edinburgh (drenched in sweat as I repeatedly crashed my five months of belongings into the uphill cobblestone streets), I was so exhausted and confused and literally lost that as soon as I found my flat, I collapsed on top of my luggage and sobbed for a good 20 minutes.

    Travel is wonderful in so many ways, including that it stretches us to be uncomfortable (especially while we’re traveling alone). These are great tips!

    1. I can only imagine that :-D. It’s so cathartic to have a good cry! And all of those bad days make us better people… Eventually. And you make a great point about leaning into that discomfort :). Thanks for sharing, Liz!

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