“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Travel (Mis)Adventures

A lot of people probably think that when a travel consultant takes a trip there are no glitches or hitches. How I wish that was true. While experience, planning and foresight mean most of my trips are pretty smooth, when you travel as much as I do, there is bound to be an occasional hiccup.

Some years ago, I was setting out for a Mediterranean cruise with Lisa and Mike, my daughter and son-in-law. I had reminded them to the point of nagging not to forget their passports. As we waited for the cab to take us from their house to the airport—you guessed it! I realized my passport was back at my house. Fortunately, I always plan to get to the airport way early. I jumped into my car, sped home, got my passport, and spent a lot of money to park at the airport for two weeks.

Some things happen that are no one’s fault. My friend, Lynette, and I were traveling in Southern Spain. We picked up a rental car with a stick shift. Hadn’t driven one of those in a while. We were on the road, about two hours from the airport and about another hour to our hotel, when people started honking at us and gesturing. We just smiled and waved back at the friendly Spaniards. Then someone who spoke English called out that our car was smoking! Clutch problem! We had to call the rental car company and wait for 90 minutes for them to drive out to us with a replacement. Night had fallen and finding the hotel proved to be yet another adventure.

Also, on that trip, we had trouble getting used to Spanish dining schedules. It seemed like every time our American stomachs were hungry; the restaurants were closed. A lot of cheese and wine kept us going though. Lesson learned: investigate local customs.

Then there was the cruise when my cabin-mate and I maybe indulged a bit too much in rich food (and drink) on Captain’s Night. We had a very early shore excursion the next morning and my friend woke up with an upset stomach. We went to the ship’s doctor to get some Imodium. When she told him her symptoms, she was ordered back to the cabin for three days in quarantine in case it might be Norovirus. She bravely said “Well, you have fun with your family and tell me all about it.” “No, dear friend, they quarantine everyone in the cabin.” After shedding some tears, we made the best of our three days, playing cards, reading, and drinking wine to drown our sorrow. We didn’t even have a balcony, just a small window! Moral of this story: Never go to the ship’s doctor unless you are actually dying. (And pack your normal OTC pharmaceuticals.)

Sometimes we let our guard down when we travel. My family and I were staying at a really cute little VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) on the beach in Aruba and got a little too relaxed. After a day of sun and sea we left all our snorkel gear out on the front porch overnight. Next morning, it was predictably gone. Someone had come right up on the porch and taken our expensive gear. I was glad that I had travel insurance and got reimbursed for almost every penny, but it cramped our style a bit. Two lessons here—keep your guard up when you travel (we never would have been so bonehead at home) and always buy travel insurance.

When my family visited Italy there were ten of us and cars weren’t going to suffice, so we rented two vans. Now the streets in small Tuscan towns were laid out before the automobile was invented and they are typically very narrow—hard enough for a small car to get down, let alone a big van! We were going down the street with walls rising on both sides of us, towering over our car. I was very nervous. Arnold told me not to worry, just watch the mirror on my side to make sure it didn’t hit the wall as we inched along. I did my job and we didn’t hit—on my side at least! We heard a grinding noise, but I knew it couldn’t be us because Arnold was watching his side and I was watching mine. Well, when we got out, the whole side of the van (Arnold’s side) was scraped. We continued our trip and when we turned the vans in, there was no one to report it to. We were told just to leave the keys and they would send our receipt. I worried for a week about how much that scrape would cost us and knew I’d be talking to my insurance company about it when we got back to the States, but, surprisingly, they did not mention it or charge us for it. I guess that happens a lot in those ancient Italian hill towns.

I hope my stories have made you realize that everyone, even seasoned travelers, encounters difficulties when traveling. You just deal with what comes your way—keep on going and having fun. Don’t sweat the small stuff. And it’s all small stuff.

Hoping all your travels are smooth sailing.