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What I did on my summer vacation — part 4

August 12, 2022 | Family,Summer,Traveling

Dream vacation, nightmare travel planning

A few days before our trip, I asked, “I just realized we have 2 or 3 ferry rides from Seattle to Victoria. Should I book those in advance? Or will we be OK to show up, buy tickets, and wait for the next ferry?” And she did NOT say, “Yes, I would highly recommend buying tickets in advance.” I already knew those words were in her vocabulary, but she didn’t choose to use them here. Nope. She didn’t answer my question at all. I was slammed with work before I left, so I didn’t have time to check on it myself or to keep after her for an answer. She sent me a link to scan passports and vaccine cards to prepare to get into Canada, and I spent what little time I had taking care of that. In any case, I had almost SIX HOURS to think about this whole thing while waiting for a ferry. We showed up before 4 p.m. at Port Angeles for the 5:15 p.m. ferry, but it was full. So, we waited on standby, not knowing if we’d even get on the 9:30 p.m. ferry. (The last one.) I had a lot of time to think how much it would cost me to get a hotel room in Port Angeles (I called and they had rooms available) and to eat the cost of the hotel and whale-watching boat tour in Victoria. We got on the 9:30 p.m. ferry and had to drive in the dark to find our hotel and check in after midnight. We were up bright and early the next morning to eat our lovely breakfast (it was an adorable B&B and I wish we could have spent more than a few hours there) and get to the pier for our tour. The tour was four hours of wonderful information and education about whales and other animals we got to see. I would absolutely recommend it.

The trip back to Seattle was brutal. We had bought ferry tickets ahead of time this time, but the 3 p.m. ferry was already full, so we got on the 7:30 p.m. ferry. After the two-hour ferry ride, it was dark, and we still had two hours to go. I was so tired, I stopped at a gas station for coffee and a power nap. It was after midnight when we got to the hotel, but they had a shuttle service that would pick us up at the airport (which is something our travel agent should have told us) after dropping off the rental car — which I did that night instead of with all our luggage the next morning. When it was all said and done, I hit the pillow at 2 a.m. and got a couple of hours of sleep. The shuttle (which was free) took us to the airport the next morning. Because they “aren’t allowed in there” to drop us off at Delta ticketing, we got directions for how to navigate from where they dropped us off to the ticketing counter. I had meant to pay for priority when checking in for our flights, but I couldn’t find how to do that on my phone. So we had to stand in line for an uncomfortably long time. Then we had to search for TSA PreCheck. It was a relief to get to our gate in time.

Then came Atlanta. People who help with travel planning do important work. I had physical challenges to deal with on this vacation, and the lack of information and misinformation I got gave me several sleepless nights and extra stress. That culminated in a panic attack in the world’s busiest airport. I really did try to power through everything, hoping whatever mistakes happened wouldn’t ruin my entire dream vacation. But it’s when I look back now that I realize those mistakes by that travel agent weren’t just inconvenient. They did me actual physical and mental harm. Yes, I have some beautiful photos and some great memories, and I’m glad for that. But the “service” I got was harmful. I want to continue traveling, and I still need help with planning, but I’m scared now whether I’ll be able to find anyone trustworthy.

Looking back now, I see that the point I should have walked away, giving up her nonrefundable fee and paying whatever penalties there were, was when she didn’t update her system, which then threatened to cancel everything — and she called, expecting me to do something about it. But it was 1 month from our vacation, and I had no way of knowing how many mistakes she would make and how devastating they would be. Or maybe the time to walk away would have been after her I’ve-done-this-for-10-years snit. Yeah. That’s the one that should have done it. Sigh. Live and learn — and hope to do better for myself next time.

Posted by Becky @ 6:25 pm  

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