My Favorite Mistake

Day 4 and already the cracks are starting to show. A long day at work and the last thing I want to do is write. Yet, I know that once I get going and see the finished post at the end of it, a sense of accomplishment will wash over me. So, owing to the commitment I made to myself, I will soldier on and get down to it. After all, a challenge is a challenge.

Day 4: Mistakes

Everyone makes mistakes. We forget to ask for Coke without ice in Mexico and spend the rest of the trip in the bathroom. Or we arrive at the airport for a 7pm flight only to realize the flight left at 7am. Tell us the story of your worst travel mistake.

Thinking back on my travels, I don’t recall mistakes per se. Sure things didn’t go as planned or I exhibited some less than stellar judgement, but in all honesty that’s what travel is all about. It’s getting outside of your comfort zone, experiencing something new and finding out about yourself in the process. So when I think back to my illustrious travel career a couple of doozies spring to mind.

1) Mistakes in Transit: nothing is worse than showing up at the airport and realizing you: a) got the flight time wrong b) are at the wrong terminal/airline or c) my personal fave…at the WRONG airport. Yup. You read that right. Wrong airport. I was 16, a junior in high school and my dad was taking me to Colorado to check out colleges. I would like to state, for the record, that my dad is the quintessential traveler. A man who made his living in sales and marketing, he traversed the globe racking up more frequent flier miles than he could ever redeem (he’s still trying to this day). He booked our tickets through his trusty travel agent, Ruth, and the trip began like any other. My dad packed up the Grand Marquis and off we went to John Wayne airport. Drop off the car, head to the terminal where the booking agent explains to us gently that we’re in the wrong place. I’ve never seen my dad look so flabbergasted in all my life, he actually sputtered, “No, no. It couldn’t. It couldn’t be. Ruth. Ruth. She knows never to book me out of LAX.” With a quick turn on his heel, we grabbed our bags, ran to the car and hit the 405. While we missed our first flight, we thankfully caught the next. And to this very day, I always triple check my departure airport (especially handy in NJ where there are three major airports in the vicinity).

2) Mistakes of Epic Libation: I know, I know. You’re shocked that alcohol could be a factor in travel mistakes. Wish I could say I was free from this error in judgement. But you’re out, you’re having fun, your friend shouts out, “One more round!” And you think, why not? What’s the worst that could happen? Besides, I’ve always been the girl who will stay to the bitter end for fearing of missing a funny moment that would turn into an even funnier story. As a result, I’ve been known to consume one too many for fear of missing out (the FOMs as my friend Deneen calls it). And since I’m all about the story, it would be a travesty to leave. Case in point? Heading out to a Thanksgiving party instead of packing for my trip home when I was in grad school. Stayed out too late, had a cocktail or two, but didn’t miss out. Instead, I had a brilliantly fun and zany night out with my friend Neda that involved a heated debate over Weezer’s blue album. Needless to say, I woke up late, haphazardly packed and nearly missed my flight home since I fell asleep at the gate at Boston Logan. Did I mention I forgot to call my parents and let them know when I was arriving? Thank goodness for layovers, where I was able to call my dad and let him know my arrival time. Not my finest moment – and now preserved on my blog.

3) Mistakes of Forgetfulness & Theft: Picture me: an 18 year-old girl living in London for the summer. It’s 1994, ATMs weren’t the preferred method to procure cash, so Amex traveler’s checks were the way to go. After a week of living in the hostel, it was time to strike out on my own and get a sublet. I head to the local bureau de change and flush with GBPs, I settle into the cubby area at the hostel to call the 5+ flats on my list. Not having much luck, I settle back in the common area and peruse the daily paper for additional housing gems. About 5 minutes into my search, I jump up with a start. My wallet! On top of the phone! I race down the hall and see it perched on top of the phone. Just where I left it. Heaving a sigh of relief I walked back to the couch and flipped open my wallet to find it…empty. All my freshly exchanged pound notes. Gone. A frantic call back to my parents (middle of the night for them…natch) and they thankfully helped me get back on my feet. But lesson learned: I’ve never set my wallet down anywhere since — grab what you need and put it away. Perhaps I’m a little obsessive, but you lose your hard-earned cash at 18, you learn quickly.

And so, there you have it. My trifecta of mistakes or as I prefer to look at, opportunities to learn a bit more about myself. And besides, they make for good stories. So I’ve got that going for me.


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