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Traveling is one of the most exciting things I can do with my paid time off. I spend endless hours doing research, planning the exact hotel and attractions I want to see and ensure that my family will have a fun time on our trips.
Even with all of the prepping and planning, I have had plenty of travel fails! Luckily none of my travel fails were all too terrible, but please read my top 7 travel fails. I’m sure there will be more to come in the future because travel is always evolving. And face it, we are humans and we make mistakes.
1. Booking Alcatraz tickets only a few hours after we got off the plane
Flying from New Orleans to San Francisco is an all-day event. You lose two hours so landing at noon is landing at 2 pm, which also means you’ve been up since at least 4 am. When booking tickets for Alcatraz, I didn’t decide which day we wanted to tour the jail ahead of time, and all of the better time slots were taken. We decided that we would book tickets for the 4 pm tour, eat a quick lunch before and be back at our hotel in plenty of time.
When we landed, our hotel wasn’t ready, so we ended up having to freshen up in a random bathroom. We then realized that since we booked our hotel close to the airport (it was way cheaper than city center), we had to fight traffic to make it to Alcatraz. After quickly finding a bite to eat, we were able to visit Alcatraz.
Why was this a fail?
Well, the family was so tired that we had to take a ton of breaks when we were on tour. Also, booking the tour so far into the evening made us feel rushed to complete the tour. We were able to get good seats on the ferry to and from Alcatraz, so at least we got to rest a bit.
Lesson learned: The first day of vacation should be relaxing and do not plan anything for the day you get in. If you are flying in for a special event, like a cruise or a wedding, make sure you fly in a day or two early to avoid unnecessary headaches.
2. Missing my flight from California to New York
My first time flying across the country by myself was for a sorority conference in Palm Desert, California. Since the Palm Springs airport is quite tiny, some of the attendees were instructed to fly into the Ontario airport and get on an hour-long bus ride. Getting to California was an adventure (6-hour delay) but getting back to New York was insane!
First, my flight was at 8 am, which meant I needed to get on a super early bus. I remember sleeping through my alarm clock and immediately getting on the phone with United. Luckily, they had a record of my awful trip from New York to California, so they were able to rebook me on a later flight. No harm no foul, until I realized my original flight from Dallas to New York was canceled, and everyone was trying to get on my new flight. This fail actually turned into a mini-win.
Why was this a fail? Who sleeps through their alarm and misses their flight? This was my first time traveling by myself (at the mere age of 22!), and I was a basket case. I had no idea how I was going to get from one side of the United States to the other without having to pay an enormous fee.
Lesson learned: Do not book early morning flights with an hour drive! I am not a morning person (at all) and adding a commute time of an extra hour is just worse.
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3. Going to the wrong entrance to Bighorn Canyon
On my first road trip across the Midwest, I planned out to visit as many National Parks, Monuments, and Reserves. When visiting Bighorn Canyon I mapped out the perfect route, first visit Little Bighorn Battlefield then take the highway all the way to Bighorn Canyon and drive all the way through. I had read on the website that Bighorn Canyon was open all year round. However, I didn’t read that the entrance I was trying to enter would be closed after Labor Day. We were able to look at a damn (woopie) and had to figure out a way to get back to Cody, Wyoming so we could continue going to Yellowstone.
Why was this a fail? The next day I met a couple who went into the correct entrance of Bighorn Canyon, and they saw a herd of wild mustangs. We are making plans soon so we can go and visit Bighorn Canyon and hopefully get a glimpse of the mustangs.
Lesson learned: Check a website thoroughly and if you have any questions call! Traveling during the shoulder season is great, but sometimes things are closed, and you need to be flexible.
4. Flying standby to Canada and checking our bags
On our recent trip to Canada to board our Disney Alaskan Cruise, we flew standby and checked in four pieces of luggage (yes we overpack, every single trip). So typically flying standby you should bring your luggage with you, but we could not figure out how we were able to bring all of our ‘stuff’ without checking a bag.
Luckily, we did have a few things in our overnight bag – pajamas, contacts, medicines, undergarments, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.
Three of our four luggage ended up being expedited to Vancouver, and one bag (my sister’s) was lost in no-man’s land. Her luggage stayed at MSP for another 2.5 days, and we only got the luggage 2 hours before we needed to board the ship. Let’s just say, it was an adventure.
Why was this a fail? We had four bags and checked in the luggage under three people’s name. My sister, the flight attendant, had to stay behind, which made her one bag miss her flight.
Lesson learned: Not to check any luggage under my sister’s name (if we ever have to split I go with mom and Ally stays behind), and to learn to consolidate packing and bring less.
5. Getting stuck in a snowstorm by the Grand Canyon
While traveling all over the Grand Canyon, we received warning that there might be some snow about an inch or two, we were confident that we could visit the different places on our itinerary, but started to get nervous about the storm. After going through Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument we noticed that the snow began falling. Not really knowing what an inch of snow looked like, we spoke to the park ranger about the weather, that is when we realized we were about to be in a blizzard (I mean I think it was a blizzard) and they were expecting up to 16 inches of snow!
We ended up grabbing lunch and coffee before heading down to Phoenix. While we were eating, the snow picked up even more, and we got even more nervous. We then jumped in the car and got on the interstate to escape the snowfall. Ally drove through the snow for a solid 30 minutes. I’m not sure how far we traveled, but us southerners were quite nervous the entire ride. Oh did I mention we were also on a mountain?
Why was this a fail? We were unprepared for snow! It didn’t even cross my mind that it snows in Arizona. Guess what – it does.
Lesson learned: Check the weather a lot. And maybe get lunch to go if you are worried about black ice on the interstate.
6. Buying Cheese Curds and them ending up in the trash
My first trip to Madison, WI I was so excited about cheese curds that I purchased $30 worth of cheese and cheese curds to bring back to my family so they could enjoy that delicious squeak that happens when you bite into a curd. After talking with Brennan’s Market, they told me the cheese could survive outside of the fridge for about 12 hours. I went to class and had the cheese placed in a refrigerator so I could maximize my full 12 hours out of the refrigerator. After class, I grabbed the cheese, stuffed it in my carry on, and began my long trip back home.
The flight was going from MSN-MSP-MSY, see how a mistake could be made? Boarding the plane in Madison, my bag was too fat to fit in the overhead bin. Before I even knew what was happening, the flight attendant took my bag and ticket and said that my bag would be at my final destination. I looked at my ticket, and it looked like the flight attendant wrote MSP instead of MSY, so I verified with her, and she said ‘Whatever your final destination is that is where your bag will deplane.”
Fast forward a few hours later, and asking three different gate agents why the tracking said my bag was off the plane. The bag decided it wanted to take a joy ride at baggage claim for a couple of hours in- you guessed it MSP. After talking to the airline carrier and explaining that I had cheese in my bag, they expedited the luggage as fast as they could to go to MSY, New Orleans,
The bag traveled from MSP-ATL-MSY, but of course, it missed the flight out of Atlanta, and I didn’t get the bag until two days later. Let’s just say the cheese was very ripe and went straight into the trash. Luckily, the airline carrier sent me a Visa gift card to cover the cheese expense, and I am still a loyal customer!
Why was this a fail? I must have given the flight attendant the wrong boarding pass, and that is why MSP was written down.
Lesson learned: Always make sure when gate checking a bag, that the bag is going to your actual final destination. Also, store all cheese in your small personal carry on.
7. Last week I lost my iPad
Y’all, not even a week ago while I was at Yellowstone I lost my iPad Mini. I can’t believe I did that. I vaguely remember putting the iPad next to my computer in my laptop case because I wasn’t going to use the iPad or computer while hiking (everything else was in my backpack), but somehow when we arrived in Jackson, Wyoming – there was no iPad.
I called the hotel we stayed at in West Yellowstone, MT but no one has turned in the iPad yet. I logged in to find my iPhone, so I could lock down the iPad and send a message to it, but of course, it is not connected to the internet.
I am upset that I don’t have my iPad, but I only really used it to watch TV and read books. Right now I’m using the “backup” iPad that I had replaced because it was buggy and slow, but its better than nothing, right?
Why was this a fail? I lost my iPad, and it hasn’t been found yet :/
Lesson Learned: Make sure to connect the iPad to the internet when arriving at a hotel so that it registers on Find my iPhone. Don’t leave the iPad at the hotel.
What travel fails and lesson learned have you had over your travels?
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