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When Travel Goes Wrong

Enjoying cava sangria in Barcelona with new Finnish friend Linda

Today is guest post day for the Blogathon, but my trading partner accidentally broke her blog earlier in the month and is still working on getting it back up and running. Instead, you get to hear from me, again, for the 16th day in a row now. (Worry not, though, my guest blogger will be back when everything’s sorted out.)

Little hiccups like this happen all the time in daily life — and especially in the world of travel. Flights are canceled, weather doesn’t cooperate, and reservations are lost. I got a cold right before I left for San Francisco last year, leaving me a coughing mess on the plane and short of breath on all those steep hills. In Paris, I threw away my ticket for the Métro after getting on, not realizing I needed it to exit as well (and then spent an awful lot of time figuring out how I was going to escape the station). In Chicago, I got dreadfully lost — actually, that’s happened to me in more cities than I can count. In Ohio, I ripped my favorite jeans; in Iceland, I neglected to pack a jacket to wear; and in Hawaii, I couldn’t figure out how to park my rental car.

It’s all part of the experience. A trip to Spain that was doomed from start to finish began with a much-delayed flight and ended with an oversold one, leaving me stuck at the airport. In the middle, I was surrounded and groped by three drunken Spaniards who I was sure were going to mug me (fortunately, I guess, they were intoxicated enough to be more interested in my lips than my cash) and parted ways with the people I’d traveled there with, changing it to a solo excursion. But on the bright side, I saw amazing sights and made friends in the hostels I stayed in — I still occasionally hear from a couple of them even now.

The best-laid plans … well, you know what they say about those. If nothing else, the challenges of traveling make for memorable stories down the road and a chance to exercise your problem-solving and coping skills. It is, after all, about the journey — and that includes good and bad.

Have you had any travel experiences that took a turn for the worse?

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7 Responses to “When Travel Goes Wrong”

  1. Oh, I took three people with me on a trip once that I was leading, and my car battery died the next morning. Luckily, I had my AAA card, and the battery was able to be replaced fairly soon. But it was slightly embarrassing and upset the schedule. Then, the guy I was with got injured and didn’t want to call a doctor. We watched him wince in pain all day until he finally admitted, “It hurts bad!” Next stop was to the emergency room, where I spent several hours in the waiting room, while my other companions stayed behind at the B&B. Things happen. And fortunately, I was with people who took it all in stride.

    • Haley says:

      It definitely helps when you’re with people who can roll with the punches. That reminds me that I woke up while traveling once to find paramedics in my room — my aunt had to be taken to the hospital. It all turned out okay, but it was a frightening way to wake up!

  2. Tia says:

    I think travel is more complicated and prone to hiccups with three children in tow, so we always seem to have some kind of experience. We try to make the best out of unexpected layovers and rebookings (with five people this is NEVER fun). I try and let the stress wait until I get home and find something fun about the unexpected while traveling. (not so if my luggage is lost, though, I must admit). Thanks for the post!

    • Haley says:

      I agree — the more people involved (especially kids), the better the chance that something will go wrong. I, at least, look back on all my vacations as a child and find that lots of the most memorable moments were when something went wrong. We still talk about how my uncle got his car towed in D.C. and then couldn’t find it and how my grandpa took up so much room next to me on a vintage train that I had a painful indent in my side from three hours of being stuck against the side of the car. But lost luggage is never a good thing!

  3. Anjuli says:

    Ah yes, I know ALL about plans going awry- how many times have I heard an someone at the airline desk or the hotel saying, “This has NEVER happened before…” hah!… but as you said, all these hiccups make for great travel stories- and boy do I have a treasure trove of those! :)

  4. […] remind me of my early twenties in Europe, Southeast Asia and beyond. I especially appreciated her When Travel Goes Wrong post. Sometimes that’s when you have the best stories to […]

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