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
We 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!
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?
The 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.
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 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.
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?