I’ve had plenty of awesome travel days. Whether it be a friendly TSA agent, a short Starbucks line, or an entire row to myself, traveling has brought small perks I did not foresee. That being said, I’ve had my fair share of hard travel days! Since I’m all about transparency, why not share my hardest travel days with y’all? Read it and weep…
1 // surprise 10 hour layover in Dublin
This fiasco is from my days as a baby traveler, when I didn’t know my rights or the options available to me as a passenger. When I was on my way to study abroad, I was already two days late to my program due to unforeseen circumstances with the airlines I flew with. JetBlue had to reschedule my itinerary for exactly two days later because of the tragedy in Ft. Lauderdale airport in early 2017, which resulted in a shutdown and loss of access to their fleet.
Since I was already running late, why not make it later? At Boston airport, my layover was a few hours long. My red eye to Dublin was due to depart at 6pm. We didn’t leave until 8:30. Naïve me thought that I would still make my 6:30am connection.
Instead, the customer service reps gave me two breakfast vouchers and re-routed me to depart for Barcelona at 4pm. That was a surprise 10-hour layover with one drink voucher, and one breakfast voucher. I mentioned this in my Hotwire post, but I need to get on the Aer Lingus diet if all they’re craving in 10 hours is one meal.
Now, I know that I can leave the airport in Ireland as a U.S. citizen and come back 2 hours before my EU flight. No more sitting in the airport for hours on end! Had I known that 2 years ago, this would have been a completely different story. The next time something similar happens, I’ll be heading straight for a luggage locker and on to explore.
2 // Barcelona to Berlin during a labor strike
I admire Europeans’ willingness to openly criticize their governments. When I was a student in Barcelona, there were protests held at least 3 to 4 times per week as a result of changes in student funding for higher education. Austerity measures made these young adults angry, and ready to tell the government about it.
Similarly, workers will be sure to protest if they feel their employer takes advantage of them. This is exactly what happened one March Friday when I flew from Barcelona to Berlin at a bright and early 6am. Thankfully, I booked a cheap ticket that was the first to leave. If not, I wouldn’t have made it to Berlin at all! Every other flight that day was cancelled due to a strike at Berlin airport, a ripple effect that started in France.
As a result, we couldn’t land in Berlin. Instead, we had to land in Leipzig and be driven in buses chartered by the airline to Berlin airport. This means I woke up at 3am, got on the night bus at 3:30am to get to Barcelona airport by 4am, took off at 6, and didn’t get to Berlin until about 2pm.
This whole time, I hadn’t eaten. I was miserable. By the time I took the metro to my friend’s apartment, I was ravenous and exhausted. When she opened the door, I just needed a hug. The rest of the weekend was awesome, though!
3 // attempted robbery in Rome
This was one of my hardest travel days, with one of my most difficult travel moments. But, it’s funny now!
Because I’m mixed-race, many people assume that my mom and I aren’t family. When she plugged her phone into the charger a few feet from our seats and then got up to buy food, no one thought we were together. They assumed no one was watching when she left.
They thought wrong.
Some guy that had been sitting there with his family stole her phone, and was shocked when an enraged me ran up and snatched it back from him. I made a scene, I won’t lie. I yelled at him and everything. You see, he was walking towards a gate that was boarding their flight. I was sure he was about to get on that plane and we’d never see my mom’s phone again. He took the cord, too, and it was our only iPhone cord with us on the trip! I could not let him get away.
After I chased him and got it back, he came trying to halfway apologize and make me look crazy. Once he left, my friend turned to me and said, “I’ve never been more afraid of you!”
That moment was hilarious and victorious. I’ll never forget it.
4 // 24-hour travel day with no data
This one was harder on my mom than on me, but it deserves to be in this post. Earlier this year, I was on planes and in airports for 24 hours straight from the time my alarm went off in Kyiv until I hit my pillow in Nashville. Long travel days don’t bother me, and I actually love long flights. But, this day was rough.
I had a Ukrainian sim card with a local provider and a phone plan. As a result, I had data there and in the United States. But, I had a layover in Germany, where I had no data. The airport and plane WiFi didn’t work to send my “I got on the plane” text to my mom, so she didn’t sleep the whole night from worry.
I did my best to relax on the plane, but my seat was behind a sizable man who reclined his seat very far. He and his travel buddy were loud the whole time, snored, and passed gas for the majority of the 11-hour flight. At least I had essential oils to put under my nose, and headphones to watch movies! I also had a seat between myself and the other woman in my row. She was friendly, and we had more space than anticipated, which was nice!
The whole flight, I did feel bad that I couldn’t send the confirmation text to family. They were already stressed enough about what was going on, and I didn’t want to add to that. But, I thankfully made it home safely.
Considering how mild these four experiences are, I’ve gotten off easy! From social media to meeting other travelers in-person, I have heard some travel horror stories. I have yet to necessarily experience those, but knock on wood…
One of the best things about travel is how much you can experience in such a short amount of time. Sure, it brings unique lows, but it also brings euphoric highs. If you’ve experienced something traumatic or just awful while traveling, I hope you do what’s best for you, whether it be getting back on the horse or enjoying home for a while.
Have you experienced a hard travel day? Share your stories in the comments! Oh, and happy exploring!
*Cover photo by Bailey Zindel. Thanks, Bailey!
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