First off, checking in at the airport alone can be daunting. Hold on. Let’s back up. First, making it to the airport in order to check in on time should never be underestimated. Too many times I’ve missed my flight either from traffic or leaving too late, which I end up blaming on traffic anyway. Let’s say the stars align and you make it to your gate on time, no overage in baggage fees, and your sanity still in tow. Now the plane has to function properly and the crew must be there to fly the thing. Nothing creeps me out more than maintenance issues with planes. Don’t get me wrong – I welcome maintenance issues over taking off in a faulty jet. But damn, these things can take hours – and what happens if the broken part breaks again, ONLY YOU’RE MID FLIGHT? On hour 8 of a delay I start asking “God, are you there?” Don’t even get me started on what I ask him once we actually take off, climb to 30,000 ft and hit mad turbulence. So many possible issues and you haven’t even arrived yet. I’ve done my fair share of traveling in my 26.9 years of existence, and with lots of traveling comes lots of #travelfails, all in varying types, shapes and sizes.
I was dealt the lucky card in life. The person I handpicked in 1st grade to be my lifelong best friend just so happened to be an only child. Why does that make me lucky, you ask? The fact that her parents only had one kid meant that basically, I was her stand-in sister and travel buddy during summer and winter vacations growing up. Her family had a condo in Aspen we’d often visit, escaping the small town life back in Fort Smith, Arkansas, for a week or two. Because we came from a city where American Eagle dominated the regional airport and where propeller planes were prevalent, we were used to the cramped planes with rotating blades. What did a jet even look like? Don’t all planes have propellers? Ahh, the simple life. So we took off for Aspen one particular summer and as I was snacking on my free peanuts, the flight attendant came over the loud speaker and calmly reported a blade malfunction on one of the propellers. We would be making an emergency landing in Denver. Cue the cold sweat and white knuckles. Twelve year old me didn’t want to die, but luckily our fearless pilot flew us to safer grounds that day. Perhaps this is where my fear of flying commenced…
Kansas City, MO
Gotta love humble beginnings. One weekend when I was in my ugly stage way back when, we made a family “vacation” out of my dad’s dental conference in Kansas City. On a day that he could escape the tooth talk, we thought we’d do it big and head to Worlds of Fun Amusement Park for the afternoon. Well, after we rode Thunderhawk, spiraled through the Bamboozler and dipped our feet in Oceans of Fun (little did we know this was foreshadowing), things started to go downhill rather quickly…
The sky decided to open and we were caught in a monsoon in a matter of seconds. We made a dash for our car, but turns out neither of my parents could remember where the damn thing was parked. By this point, there wasn’t a dry patch on our bodies and my parents were a nervous wreck not only trying to find the Suburban among 300 other Suburbans, but also tending to the impossible feat of keeping 3 girls, all under the age of 10, calm. Not happening. The parking lot was now a swift moving river, very different from the fun, warm, lazy one we’d seen only minutes prior. The skies had turned on us and we were in a living nightmare. My younger sister’s lace-trimmed socks were now under water and my older sister had just dove underneath a large truck for shelter. Seeing how that could be a bad idea, she crawled out and instead, dove through an open window in the empty car next to it, opening the door for my younger sister and me. A faint memory of a half eaten Lays chip bag still lingers in my mind and at the time, I thought, “Is this it? Are we going to have to ration the Lays crumbs amongst the five of us to survive this dreadful new life?” And then, we heard a knock on the window. Mom and dad came to the rescue with our familiar car – shelter had arrived and we were going to live! It was a traumatic experience, and we stopped going on dad’s dental conferences after that.
While my sister was enrolled in Boston College, I figured I’d pay her a visit. At 16, there’s pretty much nothing cooler than perfecting your beer pong game and meeting hot college boys. I was livin’ the dream. It was all fun and games that weekend, and I learned a lot – beer pong was called beirut in the north?! I boarded a plane at Logan International Airport to head home. We taxied out to the tarmac and just as we were about to take off, the man directly in front of me started having a heart attack. We quickly taxied to a deserted area of the airport where a medical emergency crew met us to tend to the man’s needs. He exited the aircraft and I sincerely hope he’s doing well today wherever he is in the world.
Throughout my four glorious years at the University of Georgia, I must have missed at least 8 flights during that time period for whatever reason (totally traffic). That’s at least 2 flights/year which is extremely unacceptable. I’m purely telling you this in order for you to get a sense of my responsibleness or lack thereof during the college years.
There was one time in particular that I was extremely careless and aloof after landing in ATL. I had a daunting 1 hour and 10 minute drive back to Athens, and I was thinking about what I was going to do for a late lunch. Chick-fil-a was on my mind, and I was sizing up the pros and cons of ordering a #1 or a #5. Did I want a chicken sandwich or chicken nuggets? What about the forgotten Salad menu that the U.S. population simply dismissed? Yea, salads would probably look better on me. Then there was the beloved chicken biscuit that I was 5 hours late for, but would ask about anyway. Whoops, there goes caring about body image. SEE. There’s so much to think about before driving thru and placing your beloved Chick-fil-a order. It obviously took away any other thought process at hand, including grabbing the correct bag off the conveyer belt at baggage claim. Oh, yep, that black one with the silver zippers, yea that’s mine. Off to Chick-fil-a I went. After the hour and 10 minute drive, I pulled up to the Chi O house, unloaded my bag, and went to my room. I unzipped my suitcase to find something very unfamiliar to me. I didn’t own Keds and sure as hell didn’t pack any children’s books with me that trip. I immediately looked at the name tag. OH DAMN. AH OH. A man named Muhammad was somewhere in Atlanta very, very pissed off. What was my life going to consist of now that I was a THIEF?! I zipped up the suitcase, put it back in my car and headed towards ATL to exchange black suitcases with silver zippers. T’was a long afternoon. Thank God for Chick-fil-a.
Atlanta –> Washington D.C.
ATL and I have never vibed well together. It’s not a city that I hold near and dear to my heart, let’s just say that much. That being said, it seemed appropriate to move cities after only 8 months of getting to know the place. I was movin’ on up to D.C., and my mom was in town helping me pack my belongings and drive the 10 hours up the coast. Time wasn’t on my side during moving week, and luck wasn’t on my mother’s.
I landed an interview 2 days before I was scheduled to be in The District, so my mom and I decided that I’d buy a cheap one-way ticket to D.C. for the interview, and she would kindly drive my car after collecting my belongings from theft movers who stole everything I owned 2 days prior, but that’s for another story. Welcome to the city where the players play y’all. That’s all I gotta say. I remember calling her on my layover in Charlotte to ask how the collection went, and she was crying. She had just hit another car on Piedmont, totaling both vehicles. Thankfully, she was okay. To make a looong story short, I ended up making the interview that day in D.C. to only buy another one-way ticket back to ALT to tend to my sweet mother after her hellish day. The good news – I got the job!
On a family trip to the dreamy beaches of France, my sisters and I got a little…bold. Topless beaches are aplenty throughout Europe, and Nice beaches are no exception. We weren’t there for 5 minutes before my older sister threw her top to the side. Of course, once I saw this happen, I did the same. When in Rome, amiright? Well, we looked a bit different at the time. She was quite voluptuous up there and as for me, I mirrored a 13 year old boy at the time so I had nothing to offer. Within minutes, my sister started attracting the attention of passer bys. It wasn’t too long before a photographer got glimpse of her and started snapping away. Call him the paparazzi and my dad the bouncer because once he caught wind of what was going on, he threw the photog and his camera to the wind and told my sister to put her clothes back on before he put everyone on a plane to Arkansas where topless beaches didn’t exist. Or any beach for that matter. It was a tense day for the Murphy family.
Santa Barbara, CA
My travels with or to see Catherine Lowe are anything but smooth sailing. I could tell the story about that one time we met in Portugal to make an appearance on Des’s season, but it took her 48 hours to arrive. Or about the time we tried to make Coachella happen but never actually made any shows. How about the time when we met in Miami for her bachelorette party, and she missed the first day. Don’t even get me started on ‘The Bachelor’ travels.
One memorable experience in particular was when I traveled back to the States for Catherine’s wedding. Everyone had boarded the plane at EZE in Buenos Aires, and we were about to start taxiing. But Mother Nature had other plans. Within 5 minutes the entire airport was shut down due to a huge storm looming directly overhead. After an hour of that mess and rain continuing to pour down, the control tower gave us the OK to take off. Immediately my heart started pounding and my palms started sweating. BUT IT’S STILL RAINING. ARE WE GOING TO CRASH BECAUSE IT’S RAINING? IS THIS ALLOWED? I had so many questions for the pilot, but alas, I kept my cool and started breathing exercises. To this day, that was the scariest flight I’ve ever been on. Multiple times, I thought we were goners. Because we flew through and around storms, coupled with the delay on the ground, I missed the Houston connection and was forced to get another flight out to LAX. Once finally at LAX, I had to board a three hour shuttle to Santa Barbara. It took 35 hours to get there, but it was very worth every minute when I finally saw the beautiful bride.
Many people are unaware of this truth, but after being eliminated by Sean Lowe in Season 17 of The Bachelor, the show’s villain known as Tierra and I were forced to make it back home together. After seeing my “Tierra-orist” mentions play back on the big screen, you can image how awkward this must have been for me. And probably for her as well. After being given the boot around 2am in a mansion on a hill of St. Croix, I was taken to the seediest motel to wait out the next 3 hours until I could catch a flight. It was there that I was told I’d be traveling with Tierra, who was eliminated a bit earlier. We exchanged tired, fake, puffy-eyed smiles to one another as we loaded our bags into a producer’s car. It was only hours earlier that I was caught in the middle of the Tierra – AshLee cat fight. Too bad it couldn’t have been Tierra and AshLee leaving the show together. Could you imagine? I’m sure at that point, they would’ve loaded a cameraman in the car and on the plane to capture all the unfolding drama. I digress.
Tierra and I didn’t exchange so much of a “I can’t stand Sean Lowe” before we boarded a puddle jumper to St. Thomas. It wasn’t until the St. Thomas airport that conversation between us started up. We talked about her side of the story, her sparkle, and her one out-of-control eyebrow. No, I’m just kidding. But we did exchange pleasantries until we boarded the plane to Miami. It was there in the Miami airport that we hugged it out awkwardly and said our goodbyes. I didn’t see her again until the tapping of Women Tell All when we both had long forgotten that embrace we once shared.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
My first trip to Argentina involved a job interview about two hours after landing, right around the time it takes to get through customs and drive into the city. No pressure or anything. This was also my first experience taking the sleep aid known as Ambien. Already, two things not on my side – time and responsiveness.
We landed on schedule which was great, but my bags were lost in the abyss somewhere between Dallas and Buenos Aires, which wasn’t great. I had an interview in two hours and at the rate I was going, I wasn’t going to remember anything about it in my Ambien-induced state of mind. Long story short, I borrowed clothes for my interview from a complete yet nice stranger and made it just in time as the Ambien was somewhat wearing off. I could remember my strengths, my weaknesses and why I was the perfect candidate to be the new Marketing Manager, even though I had zero, repeat zero, marketing background. You gotta fake it until you make it, and apparently I do really well under pressure and Ambien – I got the job! My bag was delivered 24 hours later via American Airlines delivery service.
Ahh, going down memory lane was fun. I can laugh about it all now. Picking and choosing the failures to divulge was difficult because they don’t just end with the ones described above. Have a travel fail of your own? Tell me about it!
omg i made the mistake of trying to read this at work and kept laughing out loud!! the kansas city one was just too much for me, i kept busting up! plus i live here in KC so i especially appreciate it.
i’ve got a good one and will try to keep it short. i was studying abroad in florence and my good friend from high school was studying in rome. we decided to take a trip together to london and decided we would just meet there. well, on the way there i missed the bus to the airport and ended up on a later one, crying freaking out thinking i was going to miss my plane and we didn’t have cell phones to contact each other. ended up making it just fine but then her flight was delayed and i thought i had missed her so there i am crying again in the london airport.
well then on the way back, i had a connection in rome and it all needed to go really smoothly because i only have an hour or less to make it from the rome airport to the train station to get back to florence. well we board the plane in london and we are running behind (already freaking out) when a man a few rows ahead of us apparently hit on the flight attendant and she was NOT having it. they get into this whole feud and the pilot has to come and ask the man to leave or they are going to have to call the police. all this time the clock is ticking and i am freaking out because if i don’t make my train the next one is like four hours later and doesn’t get in until 2 am and my dorm locks you out at midnight. this whole debacle takes forever and in the end he is escorted off the plane by the police. once we finally land, we get on the bus to the train station and they take forever to load but we are finally off. we pull up to the train station one minute before my train is supposed to leave! as we are pulling up my friend grabs my hand and starts yelling in italian to everyone on the train to excuse us but we are about to miss the train! we hop off as it is still moving and just start sprinting, her yelling to all the attendants in italian asking where my train is. we find it as it is taking off and she makes these motions and yells to the conductor to stop the train! he opens the door just long enough for me to jump into the first car and the door slams behind me. didn’t even hug her goodbye but literally the biggest rush of my life!
andddd i didn’t keep that very short.
Lesley Murphy says
Ohhh my gosh this is a great travel fail – but not completely a fail because you made the train! I hope you got your friend a good present for helping you out with her Italian skills. Thanks for sharing, and I’m so happy you know what I’m talking about with Worlds of Fun. Never.Again.
Love these funny, intense personal stories that are so relatable!
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