We recently returned from a visit to Puerto Rico, which gave us an excellent opportunity to visit different parts of the island and to meet some of the local travel suppliers. It was a great trip on the island, but we’ll write more about that next time.
THIS post is about the transit part of our travels. You know, the “getting there” part of the journey that is often the most challenging part of any trip. Most times everything goes well, a few times there are some problems, and on rare occasion the trip turns into a massive failure.
For us, our transit gave us a few challenges and experiences that we’d like to share with you. It’s a reminder that there is always a disconnect between the reality of traveling versus the idealized promotion of the idea of travel.
In a world full of Instagram influencers, companies wanting to lure you in because of the awesome features of a place, and everyone trying to frantically get your attention, it’s important to ground expectations of travel in the harsh light of reality. So, with that said, when some adversity arises, it should all be taken in stride. Breathe. Regroup. Take the next step. Move on.
So, our fine readers, here is a list of our travel challenges on this trip. Some felt exasperating, some humorous. It makes us appreciate the hard work of everyone in the travel business.
Hotel Choices. Our first hotel choice prior to flying was near the Phoenix airport in a pretty sketchy area. East Van Buren Street in Phoenix looks like a scene out of Breaking Bad — a collection of auto shops and cheap motels. Yikes! Our Hilton Garden Inn hotel was OK, but we’ll avoid this area next time.
Airport Parking. Be sure to research the parking at large airports. Skyharbor/PHX is huge and there are many parking lots. Download the airport maps, make your choice, and that will make your travels infinitely easier. (Yes, we didn’t quite do this on this trip.). A big shout-out to the Sky Harbor/PHX parking gang that has a service to help people find their cars. You guys are awesome!
The Bagel Nazi Lady. After our first flight from Phoenix, to Charlotte, NC, we had breakfast prior to our next flight. Remember the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld? Well, meet the Bagel Nazi Lady. She scared the couple ordering in front of us. Her gruff “What do you want?” statement meant you really should know what you want right away lest she cut off your head. Not what you’d call great customer service, but she did leave quite the impression!
While at Chicago O’Hare airport and walking to our terminal, we used the walking escalator to get us along a bit quicker. As it was almost time to get off, an older woman and her grandson didn’t seem to notice the time to get off. Well, their luggage fell over, they stopped, we almost fell on top of them, and we had to scramble to clear the way — otherwise we’d have a pileup and maybe injuries. Fortunately, everyone was fine with only a few bruises from our team to report later.
August. The Caribbean. That means tropical storms. We watched systems develop throughout our stay. We were lucky as the systems stayed away from Puerto Rico during our stay and only gave us some rain.
Mind-numbingly tight flight connections. When you have only 45 minutes between flights, you begin debating the odds of missing your flight early in the game. So much can go wrong. It just takes one hiccup in the system, you know. Our inbound flight was 5 minutes late and our connecting gate was further away than we thought. Commence the hustle to the gate! We made it, but just barely, and with only a few minutes to spare. And out of breath, too!
Coffee Robbers. Do you notice that people tend to be in a rather fragile state-of-mind while traveling these days? It sometimes leads to weird behavior. So it occurred at a Starbucks. While waiting for our coffees, one arrived, but was promptly snatched up by a woman who apparently really needed her coffee. We had to convince her to give it back and that it really was not hers. She ultimately relented. I hope she received her coffee!
I am the CEO of a startup nautically-focused travel company, former associate professor and research scientist, traveler, lobster lover, and now doing what I can to help preserve the planet for future generations. The ocean is the key.
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