This post was also featured on TwoBoosWhoEat.com!
I’m so excited Andy and Amanda asked me to guest post! I’m SO jealous they are in Europe right now, hopefully eating gelato as we speak! I’m Kelley and I blog over at kelocity.com!
I’m a type-A planner. I like to research, gather information and make informative decisions. This is especially true when it comes to planning vacations. My husband, Irving, and I rent videos, go to seminars, and read lots of books to learn more about the destinations we plan to visit.
In 2008, we planned our first real international trip together: a two-week Contiki tour of Italy. We booked it a year prior, and used those 12 months to vigorously plan our vacation. We scheduled our flights to arrive into Rome a day and a half early. We wanted to get acclimated to the time change, and get a lay of the land. The extra hotel nights were booked, and so was a hop-on/hop-off bus tour once we landed.
The plan was to fly from LAX to London and then London to Rome. We settled into our British Airways seats and enjoyed the flight. Once we arrived in London, we had a two-hour layover. We had never been to London, so we immediately got giddy we were here. Even if it was just the airport.
We found a hokey British Pub and enjoyed a leisurely dinner. People all around us were hustling about, but we didn’t think anything of it. Everyone seemed to be walking in the same direction, but we ignored it. After our dinner, we saw employees passing out chocolate truffles! “The British are so nice” I exclaimed! “Look Irving, free chocolate!” We were completely oblivious to the chaos that was starting to form around us. And then we got wind of the news…. Heathrow Airport was shut down indefinitely. (Thus the reason for the free chocolate… to appease the passengers!) We were told to get in line with thousands of other people.
Everyone around us was calling with their cell phones and making alternate arrangements. When we travel internationally, we leave our phones at home. So by the time we got to the front of the lines, we were told to come back the next day. After a little more waiting, we were given free hotel vouchers, along with credits for food, transportation and a small stipend. Our flight to Rome would leave the following night. What? 24 hours of free time in London? I didn’t plan for this! I don’t know what I’m supposed to do or which landmarks to see. I haven’t done research on restaurants, hotels or neighborhoods!
But we did what any world traveler would do. We hopped on the underground and made the best of it!
We checked our bags at a train station, got a tourist map from an information booth, and set out to discover London! First stop: Buckingham Palace!
And the changing of the guards!
Big Ben and the London Eye!
Westminster Abbey! (What’s up Will and Kate!)
The British Parliament!
Shakesphere’s Globe Theater!
The London Bridge!
And of course, Harrods!
Not bad for just having ONE DAY in London, right? And we did it all without a tour book! When we realized we were stranded in London, we had two choices: sulk and stay on the phone for hours pleading for the next flight out…. or seizing an opportunity to enjoy a FREE TRIP to London! The airlines paid for our hotel, food, transportation and baggage costs! London hadn’t been on my “Top 10 places to visit” list, but I can already check it off anyways!
And by the way, we did make it to our Contiki tour on time! And it ended up being an amazing trip.
Sometimes it’s nice to get out of your comfort zone and let the “type-A” in us go. The best moments in life happen that way. It was a great lesson for us, especially since it was our first trip together. We both went with the flow, and made the best decisions we could, enjoying the journey as it unfolded. Bon Voyage!