No matter how hard you plan or how obsessive compulsive you think you are, there are always going to be those moments on a journey when things happen that are just beyond your control. As I mentioned in my introductory post on WTDGAP (When-Things-Don’t-Go-As-Planned) a key motivating factor for my insatiable need for travel is to experience life outside of my comfort zone, so it is inevitable that my journeys often include going astray from pre-determined routes. Such “missteps” have rarely been negative – but rather have enriched my experience and often have exposed hidden personal strengths and attributes. More importantly, when looked at in the spirit of adventure – they provide some really funny moments.
While every trip is unique there are a number of commonalities. For many years I have taken on the responsibility of organizing most aspects of my trips with friends, beginning with offering up potential destinations. Once chosen I am off and running, enjoying the challenge of coordinating transportation, pre and post trip extensions and the like, even including appointments for necessary inoculations. It’s akin to putting together a giant puzzle with many alternative pieces and I find it very satisfying.
I also am guilty of making packing lists, using a master list that gets customized based upon climate and activities – here’s an example:
Many of my recent trips have had tight weight limits on luggage due to inter-trip small plane flights so planning this way ensures the smallest amount of items possible. In addition I pack items into individual mesh cubes – shirts, pants, etc. I find this keeps pack-unpack mess to a minimum:
Despite all my pre planning, WTDGAP always rears its head. After arriving at our first Galapagos hotel in San Cristobal we changed quickly for our first hike along the shoreline, so I unpacked my shoe bag that had my waterproof Teva sandals:
One Teva, one Clarks, At least I managed to pack a left and a right sandal and both were black. My fellow travelers got a good laugh and the teasing was kept to a minimum. To be sure this was better than what transpired on a trip to Rome one summer. I had dutifully packed a mesh cube with the pants I planned to wear – unfortunately I left that cube on the couch. Fortunately Rome has many lovely clothing boutiques.
I should mention that WTDGAP moments don’t just happen to me – they are an equal opportunity happening. My friend Lenore had her first Galapagos occurrence before getting on our flight from the mainland in Guayaquil, Ecuador to the island of San Cristobal, and her mishap could have been disastrous. The entire group of travelers had met at the airport and with the help of our magnificent guide Alfredo we breezed through check-in. That is, everyone except Lenore who was denied a boarding pass. Why? Because her first, middle and last names did not appear in the same order on the airlines passenger manifest as listed on the tour company’s submitted list.
You would think that in a small city in a foreign country, this might have proved catastrophic. Au contraire. The airline reps quickly called “the office” and at another kiosk in the airport the problem was resolved and Lenore was free to board – whew! Yes, drinks were imbibed as soon as we got to the hotel.
A long while ago a similar WTDGAP moment occurred. As a particularly amazing part of my career in advertising I often got to participate in global events that my clients were sponsoring, ie The Olympics. The hosting national television network provided trips to the games, including tickets to events, sightseeing and often a side trip to a nearby resort. In the case of the Atlanta Olympics, the side trip was to the Bahamas, and of course we needed our passports. However, when I had received our updated passports before the trip I had inadvertently signed my name to my daughter’s passport. Major oops. However, it was a more innocent time as the authorities let us correct the signature and board our planes.
That innocence was to be shattered forever. The night we left for the Bahamas, a pipe bomb went off in the Central Olympic Park, Eric Rudolph, a domestic terrorist was convicted of that and other bombings and was sentenced to four consecutive life imprisonment terms.
We must always be vigilant, but continue to live life to its fullest possibilities.
Back to lighter fare – I have more Galapagos WTDGAP moments to share – stay tuned for next week’s recap!