When traveling, be prepared for the unexpected

You only expect to sleep in an airport during a major weather event, but mechanical problems can ground you as well. Would you be prepared?

You only expect to sleep in an airport during a major weather event, but mechanical problems can ground you as well. Would you be prepared?

The more you travel, the more experience you gain, and we learn from experience. However, we will never learn everything, so it pays to be prepared for the unexpected.

Just got back from a trip that illustrated that point very well. I keep refining my packing system every trip, getting lighter and more efficient. Got it down to one carry-on bag for a six-day trip. Still had more clothes than I needed because I bought some at the destination. However, than can backfire too.

I kept telling my wife not to dress or pack for the cold and snow we were having in Denver, but for the slightly wet sixty-degree temps predicted for San Francisco. And since my daughter and I often buy souvenir hoodies at her dance events, I purposely did not pack warm clothes, to leave room coming back.

Everything worked out as planned, until about an hour into the flight, when the captain announced we had a “pressurization problem.” Options were explored, but we wound up returning to Denver. Nice airplane at the next gate we could use to get back in the air, but the crew was no longer “legal” to fly to California. So we had to spend the night in the airport, or get a motel for 4 hours. The latter didn’t seem worth it.

Apparently, it gets pretty cold in an empty airport at night, and the only “24-hour” restaurant in this major facility closes for a couple of hours right around our boarding time for the new flight. The nice vouchers provided by the airline never did get us our badly wanted breakfast. I can sleep nearly anywhere, and did so for an hour or two, but others just shivered under the complimentary blankets.

I’m seriously reconsidering my usual packing routine. For one thing, since Southwest Airlines allows two free checked bags, my “one carry-on” austerity philosophy seems pretty irrelevant. (Although I’ve never lost my luggage that way.) For an airline where that wasn’t true, I am really looking at wearable options. I already do cargo pants, and a fishing shirt with lots of pockets. I wonder if I got one of those travel vests if I could forgo luggage altogether. I do love the unencumbered lifestyle, except when it means I’m volunteered to carry another family member’s suitcase. Live and learn, right?

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