Jet setting around the world often seems glamorous, exotic and seamless. Judging by the many travel blogs and Instagram posts, travelling is an art and the more you do it, the better it gets. But as someone who has traveled quite extensively overt the last 20 years, I’ve realized that no matter how well you prepare, things are bound to go wrong.
Over the years, there have been a few blunders and mishaps that I’ve experienced, some of my own doing, some not. Sometimes these situations upset me, while others made me worried, scared or annoyed. In general though, they forced me to think on my feet, become adaptable and solve all kinds of problems I wasn’t prepared for.
Here is a list of some of my most memorable blunders, mishaps and more.
Paris was the last stop on our most recent trip. I was so excited about returning here and wanted Alex to love it as much as I did that I stressed myself needlessly about ensuring that we had a great hotel in a great part of the city. We didn’t have a lot of time in Paris so I wanted to ensure that we optimized our stay here. For some reason, I was feeling really indecisive about which hotel to choose and left the booking till pretty much the last moment. I finally decided on a hotel, ensuring I was booking the right time and place. It was not till we were on the way to the airport bound for Paris that I realized that our hotel was only booked for one night, not four. That was going to be a problem.
As you can imagine, Paris is a popular destination and hotels book up fast. There was no guarantee that the hotel we were staying at was able to accommodate additional nights and we would either have to go to a different hotel or end up homeless on the streets. Because in my panic-filled mind, these were the only two options available to us.
Alex is a lot more laid back than I am so when I told him what happened, he just looked at me and suggested that I call the hotel. Of course. That totally made sense. Good thing our flight was delayed and one of us had a working phone. Also, it was convenient that they spoke English at the hotel since my French is limited. It turned out that extending the stay wasn’t a problem and we even got the same rate. All was good again and we were ready to take on Paris.
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Couple of years back, on another multi-destination vacation we were to fly from Dubrovnik to Zagreb so we could then catch a flight home to Toronto. The day before we left I realized that when I booked the flight, I accidentally booked it from Zagreb to Dubrovnik which wasn’t going to do us any good.
The good folks at Expedia were very easy to deal with and helped me sort out the flights. Unfortunately, we had to pay again as it was past the cancellation date. Good thing the tickets were affordable, but it still sucked to have to pay again. You can bet your ass that I now triple check the destinations as a result.
You might be reading this and are probably thinking “Kasia, you really messed it up and these are your own doing in both situations.” You are not wrong. I am a bit of a control freak and I love planning the details of our trips, including how we get from place to place, dates and so on. What can I say, I get excited. These little blunders, however, have taught me to improve my system for the next time.
Never fear though, not all of our mishaps have been of my doing.
Another time, we were leaving Athens to catch an early ferry to Mykonos. It was the faster of the available travel options and we got our tickets ahead of time to ensure there were no issues. We woke up and got ready with plenty of time to make it to the ferry yard. We tried to get an Uber with not much success as the service wasn’t as widely integrated as it is at home so we then settled for a cab. Should we have called the cab in the first place? Maybe, but it was now a moot point.
Everything was going great, the roads were clear (as they usually are at 7 am), sun was shining and we were excited to start another leg of our trip. The cab driver, who must have been an aspiring race car driver, got us across town swiftly and with no issues. And then it happened. We hit some unexpected traffic due to construction near the docs. As our helpless driver did his best to get us to our destination, we ended up missing the ferry by mere minutes. I mean really? Like when do these things leave on time anyway? Apparently when we need to take one and we are running late.
So here we were, forced to buy another ticket for the next ferry that ironically didn’t leave on time and took for ever to get there. Sigh.
Sometimes, mishaps also happen during business travel. There was that time we missed the train between Nanjing and Wuxi, but luckily were able to pay a small charge for transferring our tickets and taking the next available train.
The bigger problem arose another time when we showed up for our flight from Beijing to Honk Kong to learn that the tickets we had were for a flight that was two days before. Note that I wasn’t the one who booked them.
Before then, I’ve never missed a flight so I didn’t quite know what to do. The language barrier definitely slowed things down and made me feel more panicky as we didn’t understand what was happening and then how we were going to solve this issue. Unlike my experiences in other countries, we didn’t need to buy new tickets. Instead, we had to pay a small administration-type fee to get us on the flight we thought we were already on. This was a close one.
There are of course all the times when I got sick, but that is covered in another blog and is really not the same thing.
Have you had any unexpected hickups while travelling? How did you deal with them?
Yes! Sign me up for more!