We flew home from a vacation in the Caribbean over the weekend. A wonderful time and all that, but we learned a few things I thought might be helpful. Not really about the Caribbean or specifics about where we stayed or dined. Rather the things we learned were practical, to be remembered and used in the future for vacation planning and execution.
The first thing is: Choose a resort on the leeward side of the island. Many of the islands straddle the boundary of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. On the leeward side of an island the water is calm and the breezes are refreshing. On the windward (note the wind portion of the previous word) side if you travel east the next thing you will encounter is Africa. There’s a whole lot of miles without anything to cut the wind and slow it down. This results in pretty steady 30 to 40 mile an hour wind blowing across the beach you were hoping to spend the week on. Also, the waves are driven by these winds lifting the surf into motion which this old lady doesn’t want to struggle against.
Number two lesson: Don’t listen to the person at the counter on the small island where there is only one plane, the one you are to take, at the airport gate when your plane has a mechanical problem and they tell you, first, “You’ll make your connection.” Second, “It’s not Airline 1A’s issue since you’re going to change to Airline 2. Go to their ticket counter when you get to San Juan and they will reschedule your flights.” When the flight attendant tells you to go to your departure airline to deal with the situation, don’t believe them either.
Number three: Don’t leave the customs area going to said Airline 2’s ticket desk. This is of course at least three miles away. You’ll end up being told to go to Airline 1’s counter. You’ll walk back two and a half miles. Airline 1 being the parent company of Airline 1A’s regional one. Then you’ll be told you need to go to Airline 1A’s counter since you flew in on it. Fortunately, this counter is only a half a mile away but there is a line 30 people deep getting rescheduled. There are only two people handling this with two to three others standing behind chatting. The man who helps you will then ask, “Why didn’t you stay in the area after going through customs?”
Number four: Check in when you get rescheduled. This is to assure you are actually in the system for the flights the next day, especially if you are having to change airlines again to get to your destination. It’s under 18 hours now with an opportunity to sleep for no more than four hours so this shouldn’t be a problem.
Number five: Don’t throw away the toothbrush you took with you until you are back home. I thought about it but decided to keep it, my friend didn’t. She didn’t ask for one at the motel desk either ending up brushing her teeth with her finger.
Number six: As you walk down the concourse watch for the service desk just in case you aren’t in the system for seats on the flight you have a voucher for. Lessens the panic when you are very close to boarding time and going in on six hours of sleep the day before and four hours from last night.
Number seven: Never pack your car keys in the suit case you checked to meet you at your destination. The couple we vacationed with left their car in the airport parking lot. He packed the car keys in the suit case. You guessed it. The luggage didn’t arrive when we did. Fortunately, their son met us at the airport. Something he’s never done before.
Number eight: Don’t throw away the baggage claim tickets for that day but get rid of the ones from previous flights so you know which ones will match with your luggage when it finally does arrive.
I hope this helps you with your own future travels. I’ll store these in the back of my head and hope I don’t have to either relearn them or learn new things next year.
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Sophie Dawson is my pen name. The real me is the wife of a farmer in western Illinois.
I have two grown sons, one of which is married to a wonderful young woman. They gave us the most wonderful granddaughter ever in November of 2010. I'm not the least bit prejudice. :)