My 7-day vacation was a write off…or was it? Lessons learned.

I thought I’d tell you about my long anticipated week-long vacation in the middle of the winter season. (I know, a travel consultant is the last one who should be going away when all he’s been doing is planning your trips…but we’re human, too!)

I might as well have stayed home in the ice and snow, since I only saw the outside of the hotel twice in seven days. (And I’m still taking drugs now that I’m home!)

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This blog isn’t meant to scare anyone from travelling or taking his or her vacation, but maybe you can learn from my rather disappointing Caribbean trip – which had nothing to do with the destination, actually. It was just a series of unfortunate events:

1. I had the beginnings of a head cold when I left, so I stocked up on aspirin (and even Echinacea, as recommended by a good friend) and included both in my regular bag of antiseptic cream, band aids, anti-diarrheal pills, insect repellent, regular prescription pills, etc. (which should always be with you, and not in your checked luggage).

2. What I could not have predicted was seven days of rain on the island, with intermittent and infrequent hours of sun. So, take one head cold + constant dampness + being overtired upon arrival = instant chest cold on Day # 2.

3. But you don’t want to be a complete killjoy, so you go out with others on a tour on Day # 3. Not bad, but you forget the sunscreen, and are rewarded with a bright red face and arms during the few welcome hours of sun – and the chest cold gets progressively worse. (You can’t believe you left the sunblock in your room! Duh.)

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4. On Day # 4, you’re coughing and blowing your nose enough that other hotel guests decide you have a highly communicable disease, so you find yourself watching a lot of bad Lifetime movies in your hotel room while the monsoon rains continue. (Did I mention the mosquitoes suddenly find you at night and manage to get in through your screened window? Where the heck did I stash the Off! ™ Spray?)

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5. On Day # 5, you accept your hotel manager’s offer of seeing the nice Canadian doctor who services that end of the island. In your congested head, you know darn well that what you’re feeling is not the typical chest cold you’d have at home, so seeing a professional is suddenly necessary. (You’re glad to have bought travel medical insurance once again, in case it’s something serious, and know you have to pay the doctor at the end of the appointment. He may not take your credit card, so you bring enough US dollars with you.)

6. About $100 later, and getting some antibiotics and cough syrup from the born-in-Saskatchewan doc (who is overly chatty, and hates Justin Trudeau: I let that one slide, as I’m anxious to leave), the hotel manager and I return to the hotel.

7. I figure that by Day #7 and my departure, I will feel well enough to take at least a taxi tour of the southeastern end of the island, which is not well known to tourists (as I prefer the off-the-beaten-path-type places). I hire a terrific guide and driver, named Linus, who is fearless against potholes, dirt roads, errant goats, and ridiculously narrow roads up a mountain – and who charges a very reasonable hourly rate.

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8. What this whole scenario boils down to is this: whatever plagues you on vacation, it’s still an illness which will set you back physically and psychologically, so take it easy. Don’t make a bad situation worse by not sleeping enough, or over-drinking or over-eating. Pace yourself. Drink lots of (purified) water. See a doc if your instinct tells you to (or the hotel manager thinks you should, because now you’re looking positively green).

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9. I didn’t mention that I always take a bottle of antibiotics when I travel from my family doctor back home, which is only for bacterial infections – not viral ones like the common chest cold.

10. Depending on where you go, even the ice in your drink may be contaminated, so be careful randomly ordering drinks. You’re safe with bottled beer or sodas; just clean the spout. Be careful with salads if the resort or restaurant is not highly rated: you have no idea if the vegetables are being washed with purified water. (And peel fruits before eating them!)

Just remember: you’re not withering away in paradise – you’re just not up to scratch for the time being. Let your friends and family do their thing: you concentrate on getting better, and sit by the pool (between the torrential rains) and enjoy your solitude.

…And smile! It is better than the snow back home.

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PHOTOS by Bruce Bishop Communications Ltd. (c) 2017 All rights reserved.

For complete trip planning advice, please contact Bruce or any of his three vacation consultants, at +1 (902) 881-3097.