A recent article written by a travel colleague had me thinking back to a similar experience I encountered a number of years ago. A lesson learned on how NOT to start my vacation. Thankfully it turned out OK - THAT time.
But it sure had me totally stressed out.
So what happened?
I was meeting my family in San Diego to catch a Mexican Riviera cruise. My flight left Phoenix at 9 am, plenty of time to get to the cruise that was scheduled to leave at 5 pm. It's a quick one hour flight and the airport is less than 10 minutes from the port. No problem! Or so I thought.
Who would ever think that during that one particular hour my flight was supposed to land the airport was shut down due to inclement weather. This never happens. NEVER! Well, except for that one hour. My flight was turned back and there I was back in Phoenix.
While there were numerous flights going to San Diego, finding a seat was another story. All flights were now delayed because everything in San Diego was backed up and other passengers from cancelled flights were scrambling to find seats too. Plan B (alternative airports) and Plan C (renting a car and driving) didn't come together in time to make the ship's departure time.
If I didn't get to the ship in time it would be 4 days until it stopped in the first port of call.
Can you feel the stress building?
Fast forward - I finally got a seat, arrived in San Diego, grabbed my luggage, got to the port and immediately boarded the ship. The door shut right behind me. I really was the last person on board. Thankfully the captain had been notified and he held the ship an extra hour (I wasn't the only one in this predicament but the absolute last one to arrive).
This was NOT the way to start my well deserved time off.
The colleague I mentioned earlier had a similar experience. She had a short 2 hour drive to catch her ship out of Miami. She gave herself 6 hours to get there. Plenty of time, right? Well, an accident on the freeway made it a parking lot very quickly with no way to get off and find another route. This cruise was a transatlantic, so you are either on it when it it leaves port or you are out of luck. Thankfully she made it with 20 minutes to spare, but still, not the way to start.
Besides not letting your vacation sail off into the sunset without you, what is the moral of these stories?
Whatever type of vacation you are taking, when it has a fixed departure date/time, get to the departure city at minimum one day before.
This is especially important when your trip is overseas or if the starting point includes longer or multiple flights or driving. Plan for delays, missed connections, a flat tire etc. I regularly hear people say this won't ever happen to them. Chances are it won 't, but then again, why chance it?
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Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder