Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I made a horrible travel mistake. Well, actually, the jury’s still out on who made the mistake, but let’s just say that regardless of who was at fault, I was certainly involved and effected by the horrific, stressful outcome. And this one was even worse than our Rome driving debacle.
I like to refer to it as the homecoming from hell.
After spending a lovely time in Paris, we enjoyed our last rainy day exploring the city and eating a leisurely lunch. We returned to the hotel, packed our bags and were waiting calmly for our taxi to the airport.
As we were sitting in the hotel lobby, I reached into the bag to locate our airline tickets. I pulled them out, glanced at them and took a double-take at the flight time. My temperature went up, I began sweating and a feeling of panic set in.
Wide-eyed, I stared at the tickets in horror and disbelief as I began calculating the drive time and the two-hour requirement for international check-in. Somehow, we got the flight times mixed up and what we thought was plenty of time for a 9pm flight now became a dangerously small amount of time for our 7pm flight.
This is the series of events that followed:
1. We frantically asked the front desk to call the taxi to ask them to come quicker, even though the taxi was already on the way. The hotel clerk looked at us like we were nuts, which we of course were. You could hear the phrase “Stupid Americans” rolling around in his brain.
2. We jumped in the taxi when it arrived, tried to explain to the driver that we were late, so late, and to please do everything he could to get us to the airport. Pronto.
3. We prayed.
The taxi sped to the airport. Of course, we hit traffic along the way. Upon arrival, we flew out of the car in a frenzy and ran to the nearest gate attendant. We frantically explained our situation. I was hopeful because we were there about an hour before the flight took off and we had no bags to check (we only had carry-on luggage). Surely that would be enough time. But my hopes quickly turned to despair, as we were denied boarding. Essentially, we had missed our flight.
Since it was the last flight to our destination for the day, we now had to reschedule a flight for the next day and because I don’t sleep in airports, we had to find a room at an airport hotel, which was no easy feat.
We finally got settled into a hotel at some ungodly hour of the morning and intended to get a few hours of sleep, but then something else happened. As if I hadn’t suffered enough that evening, in some cruel twist of fate, the universe flipped a switch that brought on what I’ll refer to as intestinal distress.
Exactly what you want when you’ll be trapped in a window seat on a plane for a nine-hour flight.
Nice. Real Nice.
Needless to say, it was, and still is, the most stressful, uncomfortable travel experience of my life. I don’t wish it on anyone.
So why am I telling you this? Because I’d like you to learn from my mistakes and give you a few tips on how avoid it and/or deal with it should something similar happen to you.
How can you avoid the same mistake?
1. Make one person responsible for the arrangements, tickets and itinerary. This way there is no back and forth and “Oh, I thought you knew what time the flight was.”
2. Double and triple-check your tickets for the date and time of your flight. Then check again the day before you leave. And check again the day of. You get the idea. Never enough checking.
What would I have done differently?
1. Have both the domestic and international phone numbers for the airline programmed into your cell phone. Just in case.
2. Stay put. Don’t even try it. Looking back, the one thing I wouldn’t have done is attempt to make the flight. Once I knew it might be next to impossible to make the flight, I should have just called the airline and changed my tickets for the next available flight. Stay another night at the hotel or find another close by. You may end up spending a few bucks you hadn’t budgeted for, but you’ll also end up spending more time enjoying your vacation, which sure beats putting yourself through a very stressful situation!
I’d have paid almost anything to avert the crisis I lived through. Next time, I’ll choose to stay Paris.
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