This post is part of a L’appel Du Vide feature, Misadventure Mondays. In each segment, I’ll ask one of my favorite travel bloggers to share one of their Travel Misadventures. This Monday, Steph and Tony from “20 Years Hence” share their tale of missing a boat in Puerto Rico.
Steph recently received her PhD in Psychology, and Tony pays the bill as a graphic designer (he deserves all the credit for our blog!) and used to work as a professional photographer. Although Steph is originally from Toronto, Canada & Tony hails from Minnesota, we met, fell in love, and got married in Nashville, TN where we have been living together for the past five years.
It was never our intention to stay in Nashville long-term, and we knew that once Step Graduated, that would be the perfect time to move. However, rather than jumping right back into full-time jobs and being full-fledged adults (we’re only 29!),we decided this would be the perfect opportunity to do some extensive traveling without having to worry about running out of vacation days. Our current plan is to spend the next 12-18 months traveling throughout Asia and Europe: we start in Japan and will work our way westward back to North America (but the exact route we’ll use to get there is still anyone’s guess!).
Describe your travel style:
Steph is always on the hunt for a good deal, so we are definitely frugal travelers, but we aren’t afraid of spending money on the occasional indulgence… though lodging is rarely what breaks our budget. We tend to be quite active on our trips, as we like to be out and about, seeing and doing, whether it’s visiting museums or swimming in bio-luminescent bays. However, most of our trips wind up being “food cations”, and more than one trip has been planned on the basis of the regional/local dishes we wanted to sample once we reached our destination! We also love taking public transportation, and try to fly only when necessary.
What’s been your best/worst travel misadventure? Tell me about where you were, who you were with, and what happened.
Our best travel misadventure took place when we visited Puerto Rico. Although many visitors stay on the main island, we had discovered that most Puerto Ricans take their vacation on the nearby island of Vieques. After researching ways to get there, we discovered we could take a ferry that took 75 minutes but only cost $4 per person. That was a bargain that was too good to pass up! All of our internet sleuthing suggested that tickets could only be purchased at the pier,so that is what we planned to do.
However,when we got to the pier, we were given the impression that it was some how possible to make reservations or maybe even buy tickets in advance.Unfortunately, the ferry that was next slated to depart was already sold out,and the people at the pier were very reticent (and to be fair, there was a Spanish-English language barrier) about whether we could buy tickets for the next ferry. What the website failed to mention is that locals who live on Vieques are given priority to purchase tickets on the ferry, which only makes sense as they need to be able to get home, but what this means is that it is very confusing to try and get a ticket if you are not a local, especially because it is unclear when “non-local” tickets go on sale for each ferry. This paired with the fact that it was extremely hot AND we also happened to bastuck in line with the WORST TOURIST ever (Seriously. She kept loudly complaining about the fact that no one could/would speak English to her, and got very aggressive about “local ticket” issue, confronting several local women who were purchasing tickets. Oh, and she was trying to get to Vieques because she had to check out of her hotel in San Juan because the “water wasn’t blue enough.”) made for a situation where tempers were high. Because we were on a bit of a time crunch (if we missed the next ferry, we would not make it to the rental car agency on Vieques before it closed, which would mean we had no way to get to our guesthouse…) we decided that we had to abandon our plans to take the ferry and started to research other options.
In the end,we wound up taking a taxi to a nearby airport and took a mini turbo-prop plane to Vieques.
Apart from standing in line with the most insufferable human being on the planet in the sweltering Caribbean sun, the only negative part of our misadventure is that it cost us a little bit of extra money. It would have been cheaper to take a taxi to the Fajardo airport (or catch a connecting flight in San Juan to Vieques inthe first place) rather than taking one to the piers and then trying to find a taxi in that area to get us to the airport. Additionally, instead of only spending $16 for the two of us to get to Vieques and back, we wound up having to pay $90 on round trip flight tickets.
The upswing is that the flight we took was way better than taking the ferry! Not only did it get us there in about 15 minutes (even with the delays at the pier and missing the ferry we were planning to take, we still made it to the island ahead of schedule!), but it was also really fun! The plane was TINY(only had 8 seats, including the pilot) and we flew low enough that we got a great view of the island. And for the price, it’s not like it really broke thebudget… for the views we got, $90 was a steal!
What did you learn from this misadventure that you can share with other travelers?
The thing we learned from this misadventure is that it’s important to always be flexible!Even the best planning can sometimes fail you, and in those instances, instead of having a meltdown, just go with the flow. In our case, our original plane falling through was one of the best things that could have happened to us; if not for that we never would have considered taking the flight, and it was definitely the more memorable experience (and was the one we weren’t even planning on having!).
What’s the one other lesson you’velearned on your trip that you wish you had known before you left?
Research is no substitute for first hand experience: all the Googling and guidebook reading in the world will never prepare you for the real deal, so it is important to keep your expectations in check! And as hard as it is for Steph, life has a certain way of foiling even the best-laid plans and it is important to keep yourself open to the unexpected opportunities that crop up along the way.
Also: in many cases, you get what you pay for and if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Being thrifty and budget-conscious is all well and good but if the cost is that you’re making yourself miserable, it might be good to loosen the purse strings a bit!