So today was supposed to be the start of my big trip; traveling around the world and going on uncountable adventures. But… no. No, it was delayed yet again by random bureaucratic nonsense.
So my mom and I (thankfully she offered to drive me, so I didn’t have to try and get a cab into Boston at 4:00 in the morning) woke up at 3:15 on Thursday morning, threw my bags into the car, and headed onto the road. I was exhaustedly tired, but full of adrenaline, expecting that I’d be on an airplane flying to Aruba for seven hours on the beach. We parked with little fuss, found the check-in area without any trouble, and I walked up to check my backpack in before the flight. As I went through the pre-flight check-in procedure everything went rather smoothly; I swiped my credit card, swiped my passport, entered emergency contact information, and picked out how many bags I’d be checking. And then it hit, “Please show the printed slip to an airline representative”.
I handed the woman behind the counter my slip, she uttered a “hmmmmm” while pressing way too many buttons on her keyboard, and then finally looked back at me.
“When is your return flight booked for?”
What? “Umm… never? I’m going to be traveling around the world for a long time” I replied.
“Ohh. Dear. Well you don’t have a visa to Venezuela, and you need a return or continuing flight booked in order to enter the country. Same with Aruba, so you’ll have to sort this out in Miami. I’ve checked you into this flight though”
“Wait… so I could be stuck in Miami? I’d prefer that not happen… is there anything we can do now? How can we make this happen right now?” I asked her, my voice slowly starting to creak and strain.
“Here’s the Priceline customer contact information, give them a call. I can’t do anything from here.”
Great. So I call Priceline, and their not open until 6:00. My flight is supposed to leave at 6:40. While I’m waiting for them to open I try to quick-book a flight into Brazil for myself, since that should theoretically clear this entire thing up. Kayak has a flight! I check it out, but of course the link from Kayak to the airline doesn’t work, so I try to go there myself. Its in Portuguese. I fill it out as best I can, only to find out that I need a Brazilian visa, and to get that I need a flight exiting Brazil. I nearly punch my computer across the terminal in frustration, instead somehow burying myself in trying to figure out what to do. My mom’s pacing around behind me, trying to keep herself calm too… I feel horrible, todays already stressful enough for her, seeing her son starting on a trip around the world with no plan on returning home soon. And now this…
When 6:00 rolls around I call priceline, since I didn’t have any luck booking myself a flight (A combination of the slow netbook, Google trying in vain to translate the website, and my lack of a Brazilian Visa). I talk with the woman on the other line, and end up canceling my flight, saying that I’ll rebook it for another day, once I have my shit figured out.
So here I am… sitting at home instead of on the beach in Aruba, trying to figure out how the hell I’m going to deal with this shit. I figure I’ll drop the entire “plan as I go” scheme, cut away my ability to improvise and make “in the moment” decisions, and just book my entire South-American section NOW. I’ll loose a lot of my flexibility, which was a huge goal for this trip, but at least I’ll actually be able to go, right?