Categories: Advice and TipsConfessions

A Little Lesson…The Best Advice My Dad Ever Gave Me

So there I am, 16 years old, hiding in the hotel bathroom while sobbing on the phone and spilling my teenage woes to my dad.

And that’s when he hit me with my favorite advice from him:

The Advice

“Shannon, it’s just money. It’s not worth you being in a miserable situation, I’ll buy you a ticket and you can come home tonight.”

Visiting the Grand Canyon with my dad on the road-trip when I moved to Los Angeles

The Back-Story

My dad isn’t one of those pageant parents, so when I told him I wanted to travel out of the state for an Irish dance competition (the Southern Regionals – I had to go!) he promptly collaborated with one of the dancer’s guardians so that I could tag along with them – girly dance competitions are not his scene at all but it was fine for me to go chaperoned.

Well, the only problem with this situation. The other dancer was a righteous bitch who hated my guts and sadly, I didn’t know that before we left.

Fast forward a bit and she has now spent the past two days of the competition making my life terrible – alternately name calling and articulating extreme hatred for me whenever her grandmother wasn’t around. Then she openly laughed at me when my hard shoe just happened to fly off of my foot and land in front of the judges…

…ok, so maybe that last one was funny, but she laughed at me maliciously, and there is a difference.

What I Learned from Him

Anyway,  jump back to me on the scrunched up and perched on top of the closed toilet seat in the bathroom of our hotel and contemplating my dad’s offer to come home no matter what the expense.

That’s actually all I needed, the reassurance that I could leave if I need to, that I wasn’t stuck without a choice due to unfortunate circumstances (me being underage and all). I ended up staying for the last few days. And my shoe flew off again (damn that buckle), but my dad’s advice stuck.

His Advice and My RTW Trip

See, I make my RTW backpacking sound like roses and flowers all of the time, but backpacking on a budget was a real brutality at times. There were the marathon 24 hour bus rides, attempting sleep on rickety trains (vomiting on said trains), sweaty hikes uphill in search of an incredibly elusive hostel, and bribing people w/money to get out of unfortunate circumstances. And though it was often these same experiences that made my best stories (and I actually kind of love when a few things go wrong and I get an awesome “holy cow can you believe I survived that” story out of it) I always knew that, at the end of the day, I probably wasn’t truly stuck.

There’s an out. Ok, yes, paying $150 for a hotel rather than the planned $20 hostel sucks, but at the end of the day, my dad’s advice held true– there’s probably an out and you’re just not seeing it. And particularly if it’s just money; if that’s all its going to take to make your life suck a whole lot less, then sometimes it’s just worth it.

And the money thing is only one aspect to it – my dad’s advice altered my point of view (even at the awesomely angsty age of 16).

What it taught me was that we normally do have an “out” from situations even when they seem hopeless. There is something that can be done if we are open to looking for it, some other solution or perspective we haven’t yet seen.

Now, when I’m on the road and something is going wrong on my travels, I really try to take a moment and assess how I’m perceiving the situation versus the reality of what I can actually do to change it. Perception versus reality; I’m still working on recognizing the difference, and when I can, my traveling woes aren’t quite so bad.

Have you ever had these type of situations on your travels…when you just didn’t think there was a solution?

This post was last modified on June 20, 2012 7:25 pm

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  • I completely agree- once you can force yourself to recognize the other side of the coin - and that there ARE two sides, you're on the right track. It's the people who think situations are out-right hopeless that we have to worry about :-)

  • Wow - great job of laying your heart out on the line. What a story. Adversity builds character, they say. (And they also say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.)

  • Thanks Andy :-) It was a pretty heartfelt post and if adversity builds
    character then I'd say I have character in spades! ;-)

  • Wow - great job of laying your heart out on the line. What a story. Adversity builds character, they say. (And they also say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger.)

    • Thanks Andy :-) It was a pretty heartfelt post and if adversity builds
      character then I'd say I have character in spades! ;-)

  • I was in a situation a little like this in Malaysia and we were trying to get to Thailand. We'd planned to travel by a combination of train, bus and ferry but we were running out of time and just couldn't get the transport times to link up so that we weren't looking at spending the night at a train station or ferry port. After several stressful hours trying to figure out the possibilities online I was chatting to my Dad and he just offered to buy us the far simpler option of plane tickets and we could pay him back when we were home. He was happy because we were safer and we were happy because we'd found a way out of our problem.

    I think you're so right though, whatever problems we get ourselves into the vast majority are solveable if you look at it in the right way. I always have that emergency credit card on hand for those emergencies that can be solved with a little money thrown at them.

    And Dads are always wonderful at giving you a little bit of perspective.

  • I was in a situation a little like this in Malaysia and we were trying to get to Thailand. We'd planned to travel by a combination of train, bus and ferry but we were running out of time and just couldn't get the transport times to link up so that we weren't looking at spending the night at a train station or ferry port. After several stressful hours trying to figure out the possibilities online I was chatting to my Dad and he just offered to buy us the far simpler option of plane tickets and we could pay him back when we were home. He was happy because we were safer and we were happy because we'd found a way out of our problem.

    I think you're so right though, whatever problems we get ourselves into the vast majority are solveable if you look at it in the right way. I always have that emergency credit card on hand for those emergencies that can be solved with a little money thrown at them.

    And Dads are always wonderful at giving you a little bit of perspective.

    • Aww, I love that your dad facilitated that solution for you guys; it really
      is easier sometimes for an outsider or an outside perspective to really just
      come in and strip the situation down to the basics! Good that you flew and
      were able to safely move on into Thailand. :-)

  • Aww, I love that your dad facilitated that solution for you guys; it really
    is easier sometimes for an outsider or an outside perspective to really just
    come in and strip the situation down to the basics! Good that you flew and
    were able to safely move on into Thailand. :-)

  • This is a great article Shannon! For my first trip I went to visit Taiwan, everything went well until the last day when I got lost and went to to the wrong airport terminal, I remember being on my mobile talking to my mom almost on the verge of crying thinking I was going to miss my flight.

  • This is a great article Shannon! For my first trip I went to visit Taiwan, everything went well until the last day when I got lost and went to to the wrong airport terminal, I remember being on my mobile talking to my mom almost on the verge of crying thinking I was going to miss my flight.

    • Hope you got out of there ok! Parents are so wise sometimes when it comes to
      calming down and solving a situation!

  • Hope you got out of there ok! Parents are so wise sometimes when it comes to
    calming down and solving a situation!

  • Thanks Earl, so well said - it's just so rarely as bad as we can make it out to be that a tiny bit of perspective goes a really long way when you're traveling :-)

  • Wow, that is incredible that you were able to keep your wits and go with the
    flow enough to have all of that sorted out so quickly! And props to you for
    really planning so well; a good example of why it's so important to have all
    of your emergency information in order just in case! Thanks for sharing
    Andy!

  • traveling on budget can be sometimes frustrating but, as your wise old man said, it's not worth to make it ruin your travel experience. when you stop for a second and value both side of the coin, you will find there is always an alternative choice

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