I don’t know about anyone else, but when I plan a trip while I may plan for the worst, I’m still hoping for the best.  Unfortunately, sometimes things don’t go according to plan.

For our trip to Iceland, my friend and I rented a car.  It was little, green, very adorable, and the perfect size for our backpacks, sleeping bags, and tent.  We even slept in the car a few times in the north when snow meant that pitching a tent was impossible.

My friend with our car on Day 1

My friend with our car on Day 1

Then, about halfway into our trip, we crashed the car into a gas pump, doing severe damage to both the car and the pump.

Fortunately, my friend and I were both physically okay, but the crash was a deeply upsetting shock.  My friend and I were both very upset, and then while in the middle of a gas station parking lot she called first the police and the car rental company, and then her dad to talk about what to do because the rental and the insurance were both in her name.  I meanwhile called my mom, and immediately started crying as soon as she picked up.  I explained quickly that we were both physically okay in order to alleviate her worst fears, but that we were both really upset.

For me, I had been so proud of myself and my friend for planning and paying for this trip entirely ourselves, and in that moment it felt as if the whole trip would be ruined or tainted because of this car accident.  My mom then told me a story of how when she and my dad first got married they had planned to go camping, and on the way to the campsite my mom rear-ended another car.  She told me how instead of letting that ruin the trip, she and my dad decided to make the most of it and continue anyway, and they had a great time.  She then said that the only way she would be upset with me and my friend in this situation would be if we let this one incident ruin our whole trip.

After I hung up with my mom, I went and talked to my friend.  Fortunately, we’d paid for the full insurance when we rented the car, so even though we’d done approximately 4,000 Euros worth of damage we would only need to pay 150.  Then, even though we were both still upset, we decided to take it easy for the rest of the day and just try to get to our campsite so we could relax.  My mom offered to pay for us to have dinner at a restaurant to help us feel better, so once we arrived in the town we were staying in we headed to the only restaurant they had, which was in the lobby of a hotel.  After dinner, we went to the local swimming complex where we swam in a heated pool and relaxed in the hot tubs.  By the end of the day we were joking and laughing again.

While the car accident was scary and shocking, I’m glad that we didn’t let it ruin our trip.  Immediately after it happened I worried that all I would remember from Iceland was the sick feeling I felt after the crash, but instead I mostly remember happy events.  The crash has now become a more distant memory that my friend and I are able to laugh about, and I’m so happy that we didn’t let that one really negative experience affect our entire vacation.

The moral of this story is twofold.

1) Always ALWAYS always buy the insurance when you rent a car.  You never know what’s going to happen.

2) If something bad does happen, it’s okay.  Breathe.  Relax, and then let go.  Take care of yourself first, and as long as nothing life-threatening has happened, try and enjoy the rest of your trip.