This place sucks. The people aren’t friendly. We would just leave now but we paid for 6 nights and can’t get a refund.
Have you ever been in one of these spots? It’s tough - but at least it’s temporary, right?
Another 4 nights and you’ll hit the road or pull up anchor.
Hidden Cost of a Negative Experience
There’s another cost. The memory of this visit will linger. Based on this one bad experience you might rule out an entire city, region, or state from future visits.
You may even become a negative tour-agent, selling your bad experience to other travelers and hoping they avoid it.
String together a few of these bad experiences and you may start considering giving up this life you worked so hard to attain.
Take action in the moment to reclaim that future memory.
We are coming out of one such visit. Here’s what we did - maybe it will work for you too.
Our Sucky Stop
We were in Louisiana - coming north out of New Orleans. New Orleans is one of our favorite cities. We’ve been there a few times and know how to find parking and live music for a fun night out.
We like Bayou Segnette State Park which is close to New Orleans. Just across Lake Pontchartrain is another Louisiana State Park we’ve heard good things about but had never visited.
It was a weekend but we stopped in anyway to see what was open. They had sites for two nights. Then the person ahead of us in line cancelled a reservation for the site we had just chosen. We were in for 6 nights.
We like to say we go into experiences with no expectations. Yea, right. Here’s what we secretly expected:
- An awesome state park (we had read other traveling family reviews that were positive)
- A cost of $20/night (that’s what the last LA state park cost)
- Free laundry (because the last LA state park had it)
- Working wifi (because the ranger said it worked when we called)
- An open visitor center (because the website said so)
- An easy-to-navigate layout (because the last state park had it)
- A list of rules and an explanation of where to put what tags on our vehicle and campsite (because state parks are pretty good at telling us their rules and processes)
- Open well-marked hiking trails (because we figure rangers don’t want people to get lost)
Here’s what happened instead:
- The overnight cost increased $8/night the day we arrived
- The laundry wasn’t free
- The wifi wasn’t working
- The visitor center was closed
- The park layout is odd with tight corners around large trees
- We received no list of rules and three different rangers told us incomplete versions of the park rules and processes
- The hiking trails had large closed sections, other trails had planks through mud pits
The Other Campers
We were already feeling down about this stay but there was a larger context.
It was Easter.
Easter in a Louisiana state park is a scene of shiny trucks pulling new toy hauler 5th wheels. Carried along are big grills, sno-cone makers, bouncy houses, and battery-powered riding toys.
The soundtrack to this scene is loud music, hooting and hollering, and cheering at lawn games.
People would wave, nod, or watch us leave but then retreat back into their group. The kids tried getting a football game together with the neighbor kids and were rebuffed.
We kept thinking there was a different vibe to “these people”. We then felt guilty for being judgmental of neighbors who were just out to celebrate Easter with their friends and family.
We were lonely and bored. We were just killing time before we could leave again. We didn’t fit in. We felt isolated.
We ditched the suburbs but the suburbs caught up.
What to Do?
With another 4 nights in this place yet I couldn’t stomach the vision of us all moping around the trailer staring at screens.
We had to do something.
We had to change our mindset. We had to take action to reclaim that future bad memory.
We had to quit being frustrated with complete strangers for not living up to our expectations.
We had to move.
Basically? We had to ditch suburbia again on a smaller scale.
We gathered ourselves in and pushed ourselves out.
Took Family Time
More time together is one of the biggest reasons we wanted to ditch suburbia to begin with.
We rented a Redbox movie - a superhero film with lots of explosions and gunfire. We cranked it up over the sounds of music and campfires outside.
Got Out of the Park
We know that physical movement is important to shaking off the funk of a bad experience. We:
- Took a long father/son bike ride and talked about how to look for jobs, how temporary agencies work, etc
- Went to the local library and sucked down great gobs of wifi that actually worked
- Had a parking lot date - sitting on the truck tailgate drinking a coffee and eating a snack
- Got our kayaks out and took a long morning paddle through a bayou and into Lake Pontchartrain