Travel is one of my favorite things to do. I am travelling to India in less than 10 days and preparations are ongoing. I will soon share some disorganisation tips on travel preparation, but today I would like to reflect on some past experiences.
My biggest travel disorganisation success was several years back when I was travelling to Oxford, England, to a conference. I had been invited to present a paper there many months before the actual event, so I had the chance to get a good airfare deal. I looked a bit around the net and found that I could travel from Finland via Oslo to Heathrow for a fairly low price, and then take a bus from London to Oxford. I sat down and booked the plane ticket. I’d to arrive in London in the afternoon before the first day of the conference. After that I would have enough time to take a bus and arrive to Oxford in the early evening. After the booking was done, I skimmed through the documentation I had received from the conference organisers and panicked. I seemed to have booked the flight to go on the very day of the conference, which was too late, as I was presenting my paper on the first day! I quickly went back and changed my booking to fly one day earlier. Some weeks after, the organisers offered the participants to have accommodation on campus and I reserved it. I was to check in the night before the conference after I arrive by bus from London. I must say I was very proud of the whole operation – everything was booked ahead of time and I only had to worry about my paper.
After many weeks of being buried in research, reading and writing, it was March, the time for me to travel. I printed my tickets and reservations, but did not really look at the printouts – at least once in my life I did everything on time, and in an “organized” manner. Or so I thought. On the plane from Oslo to London I wanted to give one last look at my paper and the conference schedule. I still remember the mixture of surprise, panic and anger at myself at that very moment. I even looked around the plane to check if anybody noticed how entirely silly and helpless I actually was. I realised that I am on my way to Oxford two days instead of one before the conference opening, and that I will arrive there in the evening and have no accommodation. A couple of cold sweats and internal cuss monologues later I rewound the film and realised I had actually changed the initial (and correct) flight booking to an incorrect one. That is what you get when you leave important information scattered in million different papers and folders – a disorganisation technique carried out to perfection.
In short, my biggest travel blooper is changing a plane booking from a correct date to an incorrect one (and to this day I have no idea what kind of logic lead me to that), and realising it only while already on the plane, flying to an unknown town on a cold spring evening, with a big chance of sleeping in the park. I can tell you that I did manage to find accommodation that evening in Oxford. I found an Internet cafe and searched for local hostels, so I did not spend the night on a bench in the part. There is also a very good thing about this mistake of mine: I actually had one whole day before the conference to enjoy the beautiful Oxford in early spring . So, all in all, it turned out to be a nice adventure.
What is your biggest travel blooper? I’d love to hear your experience!