We flew into Honolulu from Kauai with a scant two hours to catch our flight home. After pushing our over-laden suitcases through the check-in line, I handed our tickets to the agent behind the desk. She pulled up our reservation on her computer and examined the screen. Then she looked up with a slightly furrowed brow. “This flight is for tomorrow,” she said, handing the tickets back. That’s how my husband, two kids, and I found ourselves stranded for a night in Honolulu.
It was my fault. As usual, I was in charge of the logistics for our two-week trip to Paradise: the airline tickets, the hotel in Honolulu, where we had come to attend my sister-in-law’s father’s eightieth birthday party, the cottage on the beach in Kauai that was so lovely we fantasized about cashing in our tickets and never going home. But in my rush to get the four of us out the door, I’d never bothered to double-check all the arrangements – including making sure the dates were in sync.
We dragged our suitcases out of the check-in line and found a pay phone (this was a LONG time ago). It was the height of the tourist season, when people flock to Hawaii to from places like Alaska, and none of the hotels had a room or were willing to accept a single-night stay. “Maybe we’ll have to sleep on the carpet,” I joked. The kids thought that was a great idea. Then Jeff remembered, Kathy, a friend of a friend we’d met briefly who lived in the city. We called, and she was home. “Of course you will stay here,” she said firmly. “Come over now.”
It was a beautiful turn-of-the-century house with well-worn linen sheets on the beds, a grand piano in the living room, and closets stuffed with beach toys. We settled in gratefully and had one of the best night’s sleep of the trip. With lots of time before our late afternoon plane, we were able to spend all of the next morning on the beach. It was a lucky misadventure. My screwing up the dates led to a wonderful and totally unexpected ending to our vacation.
But I still knew that we’d been very close to spending the night on the airport’s grimy carpet. Not every mistake turns out so well, so since that time I’ve made sure to check and double-check everything before we leave: I confirm the flights and short-term rental or hotel reservations; order medication refills; make sure the ATM cards are working and there’s enough money in our account; alert the credit card companies so our card isn’t rejected after an expensive meal in a distant city; give our itinerary and contact information to our now-grown kids; if we’re traveling abroad, find our passports and the converter plugs ….the list goes on. I haven’t made any serious mistakes since that time. But then, we haven’t had any wonderful surprises. It’s a tradeoff, to be sure.
Have you ever had a travel misadventure? We’d like to hear about what happened and what you learned.