Simple Planning Makes for a More Enjoyable Vacation
June is "Rebuild Your Life" Month... time to think of ways that you can rejuvenate yourself and reconnect with those you care about most. If your vacation includes travel, I encourage you to plan at least one trip that is purely vacation. Make first day of summer (June 21) your deadline for finalizing summer travel and vacation plans.
The annual family vacation is typically a time for fun and relaxation... if you plan ahead. For those who don't plan accordingly, it can also be a time of disaster, stress, and heartache. Unfortunately, most people don't associate planning with fun. I've learned that leaving even smallest details unattended to can be a recipe for disaster. I'll illustrate my point by sharing some personal experiences.
Confirmed Airline Reservations... Ha!
Six years ago my family planned a summer vacation to Alaska. Because Alaska only has a couple months of warm weather, we knew that month of July would be a busy time to travel there. That's why we purchased our airline tickets six months in advance. With paid tickets in hand, I called airline day before to confirm our reservations. They confirmed that we had paid reservations for flight.
The next day we got to airport 1.5 hours before departure time. That's when we were told that flight was oversold and we did not have confirmed seats on plane. I said, "How can this be? We bought these tickets six months ago! We were among first passengers to purchase tickets for this flight! And we're here early... most other passengers have not even checked in yet!!" The agent behind ticket counter explained to me that, because we had purchased tickets so far in advance, seat assignments were not made at time of purchase. (We since learned that most airlines do not have their computers set up for seat assignments until 60-90 days out.) Those who purchased tickets or called to request seat assignments within 60 days of departure had reserved seats. We were placed on waiting list.
Our story had a happy ending. We got last three seats available... all in First Class! Although we had a favorable outcome, our vacation could have ended in disaster. This is one lesson I will never forget! I've just purchased airline tickets for December to Hawaii. Although flight is almost sold out, airline will not make seat assignments until 90 days prior to departure. Guess who has a reminder in her tickler file to call airline in September! (Learn more about setting up your own tickler file here: http://www.orgcoach.net/companystore ickler_file.html )
Guaranteed for Late Arrival to Hotel... Ha!
The summer following our trip to Alaska, our family vacationed in Minnesota. Our flight was scheduled to land very late in evening, so I asked our travel agent to set up a guarantee for late arrival when she booked hotel reservations. Our agent confirmed that she had given hotel our credit card to hold room. As planned, we arrived at Doubletree Hotel at about 11:30 PM. When I went to registration desk to check in, I was told that there were no rooms available. I was shocked! I presented them with a printout from our travel agent, which confirmed our guarantee for late arrival.
In search for a greater understanding of what a "guarantee for late arrival" meant, I asked to speak with manager on duty. I asked him, "If we had not checked in tonight, would hotel have billed our credit card for room, even though there are no rooms available?" That's when I learned that Doubletree Hotel's guarantee was only a one-way guarantee. He confirmed that this was their standard policy. Having difficulty comprehending this policy, I reframed question: "So if we are paying for room, why is someone else sleeping in it right now?" He informed me that guarantee did not obligate them to provide accommodations in their hotel; it simply meant that they guaranteed we would have a place to sleep that night. As I stood at counter, desk attendant spent next 20 minutes calling other hotels and motels in area. Finally he informed me that they would put us up at no charge at Prime Rate Motel down road! Hardly accommodations we had planned on... and "down road" was 15 miles away!
When we returned home from our trip, I called Doubletree Hotel headquarters in Phoenix to see if this was their corporate policy, or just local policy for that particular location. I was shocked when their customer service rep informed me that this was "standard practice in industry," adding that "the airlines do it all time." From now on, when I know I will be checking in late, I ask explicit questions about a hotel's policy regarding guaranteed late arrivals.
How High Do Mosquitoes Fly?
Of course, some things are simply beyond our control, and no amount of planning can guarantee a flawless vacation. I remember one of my first trips to Jakarta, Indonesia, where my husband's brother and his family live. We had made long flight halfway around world, and I was exhausted. (A quick geography refresher: Jakarta is near equator, and it is very hot and humid there.) We were staying in a nice hotel with modern comforts of air conditioning and purified water... two important elements for me.
When we checked into hotel, we were informed that they would be doing some electrical work on elevator shafts, and would therefore be turning electricity off for entire hotel from 2:00 AM to 8:00 AM while they did work. I thought to myself, "Well, by then I will be asleep and I won't even notice it."
Boy, was I wrong! At 2:40 AM I woke up in a sweat. By 3:00 AM I was really hot and sticky. I had a brilliant idea! We were on 12th floor, and I decided to open windows to let in some fresh air. There were no screens on windows, but I figured that we were high enough off ground that it would be safe to open them. I made an assumption that mosquitoes would not fly that high. Again, I was wrong. Within a few minutes I had 32 mosquito bites covering my body and more were buzzing in my ear. Now I was not only hot and sticky, but I also felt like one huge, itchy, miserable welt. (My husband only had two mosquito bites. For some reason, mosquitoes have always liked me more than him.) We ended up leaving our hotel room and walking around lobby rest of night.