A couple of years ago we had a trip planned to Costa Rica. We wanted to fly from Sao Paulo via Panama City – where we would meet with my husband. A Dutch travel agency had planned the trip and had come up with a wonderful itinerary for us. We were all excited about it. Our first day away would be our daughter`s birthday, then we would celebrate Christmas and New Year´s there as well. Everything was prepared, we were all excited about this adventure – but it all ended in a very unexpected way…

Early morning on Dec 20, 2014 we had to get up to go to the airport. Me, the two kids and our suitcases. We took a cab and arrived in time (which you never really know in Sao Paulo). Once in line for the check in there was a man checking everyone’s travel documents. And BOOM! Where is your medical confirmation for yellow fever? What?! No one had told us about it! Ok, the kids don´t have one and mine is at home… The following couple of hours were so stressful. I tried everything in order to get us on that flight. I talked to the airline, to the medical department, to my husband, to the travel agency. The thing is, when you fly from Europe to Costa Rica, you don´t need this paper, but flying from Sao Paulo you do. In the end we had do go back home. On the way I had the kids vaccinated and a doctor officially confirm their vaccine. The airline agreed to put us on next day´s flight and so we were hoping to start our trip with one day delay.

The next day – our daughter’s birthday – we got up very early again and drove to the airport. I had all papers with me. But once more BOOM! The vaccines had to be done 10 days prior to the trip. So again, I discussed everything with everyone I found, but without success. In the end I had spent about 10 hours total at the airport plus commuting back and forth, trying to keep the spirits up and to solve the situation. It was our kid’s birthday, we all were excited about the trip, we had planned to meet my husband, it was close to Christmas and on top of all this the agency didn´t help at all. What had looked like a perfect vacation was lying in pieces in front of us. In the end we decided to go back home and wait for my husband to be there the next day as well. To sum up, we were all very sad and disappointed.

But, here it comes! After a nap, I decided that I wouldn´t let this ruin my kid’s birthday. We talked about what would be a good thing to do today. My daughter wanted a strawberry cake and to go to the park. So I bought the cake, took out her presents from the suitcase, decorated a nice birthday table and we had a very nice and memorable birthday – just the three of us. In the end, we quickly booked flights to Germany and arrived on Christmas. We had a family Christmas and enjoyed our stay at home with family and friends a lot.

If we experience something bad, we can influence our feeling about the situation by making the end less painful or bad than the main part of it. I still have the bad feeling about those two days at the airport, about all the stress and about the ignorant agency. But I feel happy when I think about how nice the birthday was and how we had a really good time in Germany. This influence we have on the memory of an event by ending it in a positive way is called the recency bias.

Try to minimize bad endings and bad memories by using your recency bias and – BE YOUR BEST SELF!