Anyone who travels a fair amount is bound to have a few travel fails or mishaps along the way. Lord knows we’ve had plenty of them over the years. Usually we just roll with the punches. That’s pretty much all you can do when things don’t go according to plan. But our recent trip to Vail, Colorado in January was a series of travel fails that ultimately left me feeling like the universe was telling me not to travel in 2017. Dear Universe: I’m not listening to you.
Have you ever had so many travel fails in one trip that you considered giving up traveling?

I have. It was our first trip of 2017, and before we even got to the airport, it was already off to bad start.

Travel fail #1

My husband is a meteorologist, and when the weather is even remotely bad in our area, he gets called into work. It’s the nature of the business in which he works. It just so happened the day we were supposed to fly out there was freezing rain and ice forming on the roads. Despite it being a vacation day, he had to go into work. We were forced to cancel our morning flights, and re-book new flights that put us out two grand.

Travel Fail #2

Travel fails - Parenthood and PassportsWe got into Vail late that night and were eager to get on the slopes the next morning. But about six ski runs into our day, my stupid, intermediate-skier self followed my expert-skier husband through the caution gates and down a black tree run that I truly had no business on. The trees were closer together than I was comfortable with, and it had just dumped snow the night before. The thick covering of fluffy powder made it difficult to make the narrow turns through the trees. After a couple of falls into deep powder, and an almost-panic attack I could finally see the clearing in the trees. We were almost to the bottom of the run from hell!
Travel fails - Parenthood and Passports
The tree run I shouldn’t have attempted
I started on the path that looked like the easiest way down. Within seconds I realized it was a horrible mistake. A downed tree completely covered in fresh powder brought me to an abrupt and painful stop. My skis slid under the hidden tree and I felt my legs hit the trunk. I tried to quickly turn to prevent breaking my tibias. My body twisted, but my skis, now buried deep in heavy snow, didn’t budge. My contorted body fell to the ground, and a sharp pain instantly shot through my knee. I screamed in pain as my husband made his way over to me and dug my buried skis and legs out of the snow.
I sat there on the now visible tree trunk trying to regain my composure, before putting my skis back on and attempting to finish the run. We were still a long way from the base of the mountain.

With every attempted right turn, my knee would give out and the pain would radiate through my entire leg. Somehow, I made it off the run and eventually got to the base. I wouldn’t ski again for the rest of the trip.

Is it broken? Is it torn?
Travel Fails - Parenthood and PassportsThe next day I could barely put weight on my leg. I spent the morning at a medical clinic getting x-rays and having my knee examined. I left Vail without any official diagnosis and was told to follow up with an orthopedist when I got back home to see if my ACL was torn. My non-refundable ski passes went unused the entire week. This was officially the most expensive – and worst – ski trip we’d ever taken.Travel Fails - Parenthood and Passports
The orthopedist took one look at my swollen, wobbly knee and gave me his initial thoughts… my ACL was shot. My next trip, he said, would be to Surgery City, followed by a nine month tour down Rehab Road. I. Was. Devastated. I blamed my husband for taking me down that run… and Vail for naming the run “Teacup Glades”. Seriously, does that sound like the name of a crazy hard dense tree run covered in giant moguls? I think a more appropriate name for that run would have been “Body Bag”, or “Dead Man’s Run”, or “Hey, Stupid, Don’t Go Down This Run”. Perhaps, that would have saved my knee.

Travel fail #3

So after a week of sitting in a hotel room with my knee iced, it was finally time to leave Vail. I was ready to put this trip behind me. Unfortunately, it would be awhile longer before we would be able to do that. During the first travel fail moment of our trip, when we cancelled our original flights and re-booked different ones, my husband inadvertently booked our return for one day later. So there we were, at the Vail airport trying to get home, without flights.
Although typically we would have just stayed an extra night, that wasn’t an option. I had two huge can’t-miss meetings at work the next day and had to get back that night. So once again, we were forced to purchase pricey day-of tickets to get home. However, there was one minor snag in the plan. Our only flight option that night was out of Denver. We had 3 1/2 hours to get to the Denver airport, and the roads were iced over. By the grace of God, some unsafe, white-knuckle driving on slick roads, and a jog through the airport terminal on a wounded knee, we boarded the flight home with literally 5 minutes to spare.
Travel fails - Parenthood and Passports
Thumbs up, we made our flight!

Travel fail #4

If you thought the horror story was over… it isn’t. We arrived home around midnight. I got my cranky, sleepy, hungry toddler to bed, and crawled into bed myself. One hour later, I wake up feeling sick… not the “annoying sniffles” kind of sick… I’m talking “violently throwing up until I collapse on the bathroom floor” sick. I had food poisoning. It lasted a full 12 hours, which meant during all of my important meetings the next day, I had to excuse myself, run to the bathroom and barf. I guess the only silver lining in this case was my husband and daughter were spared the same misery.
The rest of January didn’t turn out any better.
I had several more travel fails in the first month of 2017, including several cancelled flights and getting rerouted to (and then stranded in) an airport I should never have flown into in the first place. Adding insult to injury, I tore my last pair of contacts, then broke my glasses, and also ended up sitting out during our second ski trip of the month to Big Sky, Montana. That trip was another non-refundable trip that was booked prior to the whole running into a tree thing.Travel Fails - Parenthood and Passports
Our toddler also got sick on that trip and threw up all over our hotel room, which was what felt like the last straw.
Just when I thought I was ready to give up traveling all together, the calendar changed and so did my luck.
Two days into February, I got the results back from the MRI done on my knee. Despite the orthopedist’s initial thoughts, the scan showed my ACL in tact! I am still in a knee brace for another month, and turns out I do have some small fractures in both my femur and tibia, but they will heal on their own. My next trip won’t be to Surgery City. In fact, we’re going back to Vail! We are heading there in a few weeks so I can redeem myself on the slopes and replace the bad memories with good ones. Only this time, I plan to be a bit smarter. Needless to say, Teacup Glades is not a run I plan to go down again.
Have you ever had a disastrous trip before? What are your worst travel fails?

24 thoughts on “Travel fails: why I almost quit traveling”

  1. God, the bad luck just kept coming in January. February started out pretty good and I truly hope it will continue down that road for the rest of 2017. I never had such a series of bad luck (knock on wood), but it probably would have me want to quit traveling too. And believe me, we would have had a major fight over those rescheduled flights! 😀

    1. Yeah, we’re still paying off those rescheduled flights. :/ And it was definitely a topic of tension in our household. I leave for NYC tomorrow (for work) so I’ll soon find out if my traveling luck has truly changed! Fingers crossed!

  2. What a horrible experience, Melissa! I hope your knee gets better soon, can’t believe you’re already planning another skiing trip! We’re off skiing in a few days too, and I’ll make sure to stay on the marked slopes after reading this 😉

    1. Thanks Jurga! I’m hoping to be ready to ski again in a couple of weeks but my knee still has a lot of healing to do. I’ve been in NYC since last week (for work) and have definitely felt the knee pain.

  3. What I would give for one more powder day in the trees. I skied professionally for 20 years through most of the mountains in the Northwestern United States until my knees gave out entirely. It wasn’t as sudden as a tree buried under snow. It was a structural misalignment that would have worn through my cartilage with any kind of activity. Traveling now is what helps fill the void that skiing left. How ironic that skiing almost ended your traveling.

    1. I love skiing! And tree skiing is typically my favorite. So sorry you had to give it up! 🙁 I think it was just a culmination of everything that happened on that trip that made me question if I needed to take it easy for awhile.

  4. Wow! I can’t quite believe just how much bad luck you had!! I’m glad to hear your knee is on the mend. You’ll be good now for 2017 because all your bad luck has to be out the way!!

  5. Oh my, what a story! Just when you think you are safe and on home ground, you get food poisoning – the worst luck. I think we all have these moments of travel despair, but it is amazing that your knee is not as bad as your thought and you are getting back out on those slopes – good luck!

  6. Such a pity. Unbelievable, it seems you really caught all the possible fails in this one trip. But the good thing is, that things can only get better from that point and I am sure your next trip to Vail will be even more amazing! But great to see, that you don’t loos your optimism, because that’s I think anyway the best way to handle such moments 🙂

    1. Definitely hoping the next trip will be better. And I totally agree. The best way to handle those moments that are completely out of your control is to just roll with the punches and stay positive.

  7. That’s a huge amount of fails for one trip, and one month. I’m so glad that Feb has looked much better for you, and that your knee is actually going to be ok on its own (without surgery)! The worst travel experience I had was when my husband and I packed up our lives in the UK and decided to move back to Australia 1 year after we were married. We had saved our hearts out to have a massive honeymoon adventure after leaving the UK, and heading through the US before arriving home in Oz. On arrival in NYC, my husband was interrogated for 3 hours then deported back to London where we no longer had a home. The customs guys told me he would just need a visa and be able to come back the next day. It was a lie. But I believed it and stayed in New York. When we found out that he wouldn’t be allowed back into the US, I had to cancel our honeymoon trip and figure out how to meet up with the husband in Sydney. We lost about $10k in prepaid travel expenses, and our honeymoon totally ruined. It took YEARS for me to get over this! But we’ve now been married 13 years, and managed to re-do the ‘stolen’ US honeymoon in 2011. So these bad experiences that you and I have had, always bring a silver lining!

    1. Oh my! That sounds awful!! I can’t imagine how I would feel in that situation. And the fact that it was your honeymoon makes it even worse! Your honeymoon is supposed to be so carefree. I’m glad you finally got your stolen honeymoon back, and I hope you enjoyed the states!

  8. Oh my word that was just miserable. Not sure how you made it through. This is so much more than just running with the punches it was like the universe was colliding to tell you not to ski like ever again. Good for you that you are heading out there again to replace those bad memories with good ones. And also glad your baby and husband were spared the sickness. Good luck in your upcoming trips and I hope that from now on it is all perfect.

  9. I’m so sorry for the pain (both physically and on your wallet) that you had to go through but I couldn’t help but chuckle. Seriously, Teacup Glades? WHO in the world came up with that name?! I’m glad your ACL is okay and that you’ll be going back to Vail to redeem yourselves haha. Fingers crossed for no last-minute flight changes and not-so-crazy runs!

    1. Right?! when I think of teacups I think of the baby rides at amusement parks.. not a scary ski run that could kill you. Definitely plan to make the next trip to Vail better than the last one.

  10. What a nightmare month and start to the year. My 2016 was a nightmare, I wasn´t able to do much travelling as I badly broke my wrist and needed to be home for physio. One year later it still does not move and I don´t have much strength in it. Thankfully I am back on the road and feeling positive about 2017!! I hope your 2017 gets better and you enjoy lots of travels.

    1. Thanks Clare! That was my biggest concern when I thought I had a torn ACL is that I would have to go through extensive rehab and would likely not be able to travel much. I was very thankful and relieved when they said it wasn’t torn. Happy travels!

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