Bed Bugs, Billfolds and other Travel Blunders

About six years ago our family did the drive to the cloud forest town of Monte Verde, Costa Rica. The dirt road we had to take to get there was completely washboarded and littered with potholes, some as big as car tires. The road veered extremely close to the mountain’s edge, providing some scary, albeit beautiful views of the landscape. Finally, to make the journey even more fun, Emily and Liv, who were 3 years and 16 months at the time, found great hilarity in constantly saying “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…” so they could hear their voices do that weird, reverberation thing. It was two solid hours of nerve-frying, white-knuckle driving hell. Then suddenly from one second to the next, everything was completely smooth again. As we entered Monte Verde, beautifully paved roads stretched before us like some sort of vehicular apparition. Never before in my life had I felt so much gratitude and love toward the local civil service crew.

My point: If we didn’t have some bumps in the road, we wouldn’t appreciate the times when the pavement runs smooth. Such is the case with any travel experience, and with everything in life for that matter. This trip is no different. Sadly, most of our bumps so far have involved me losing stuff. First I left an important travel case at my brother’s house near Chicago, requiring him to search for it and then mail it to us at our next stop. Then I left Brian’s cell phone at the top of a fjord. We didn’t realize my folly until we were sitting down to dinner that evening, so Brian had the fun 6-hour task of taking a ferry back across the bay, driving to the base of the trail, hiking up and back for 2.5 hours, and riding the ferry back.

For my encore presentation, I left my wallet on our flight to Barcelona. I’ll only take partial responsibility for this one. It’s really the airline’s fault since the new pay-for-your-peanuts policy FORCED me to take my wallet out of my carry-on. :-) Luckily I realized my grievous error before we left the airport, but unfortunately not before the plane flew off for its next destination. The good news is they’ve found my wallet, flown it back to Barcelona, and we can pick it up when we go into the city this week.

The only bumps that haven’t directly resulted from me forgetting something are the ones on Alison’s skin, which we think are bed bug bites. BLUH! Being the third and smallest of our kids, Ali often gets relegated to a sleeping pallet on the floor when we stay in hotels. (I’m sure this will be something she tells her therapist someday…sorry kiddo.) Such was the case in our Norway hotel, which is why we think she’s the only one in the family effected so far. However, apparently bed bug bites can take up to 14 days to show themselves, so maybe the rest of us will be itching soon as well. Regardless, we had to clean out all of our luggage to make sure we weren’t bringing an infestation of the little critters to our family in Andorra.

This, of course, led me to my next blunder (#4 if you’re counting). When throwing our backpacks into the washing machine, I overlooked one of those Flip cameras which Alison had apparently found before we left Chattanooga and tucked in her bag. The device is now sparkling clean and rendered completely useless. At least I didn’t forget it somewhere…I just forgot it existed.

So those are the bumps so far. Only molehills, no mountains. We’re now in Andorra with our family – Brian’s stepsister, her husband and their 4 kids. We’re all staying in their apartment together, so I’m sure we’ll have some humorous anecdotes over the coming weeks resulting from this multi-family household. We’ll be here through June and will be getting into work and homeschool routines, doing some service projects here and in Barcelona, and exploring the beautiful Pyrenees mountain region. Today we did an Andorra 5K called the Dia de L’esport per a Tothom. It was a fun way to spend the morning and the best part is I made it through the entire thing without losing a single item! Whoo hoo!
5k Family

About the Author

Mom, wife, friend and change agent traveling the world with my family to learn our place in it. After spending a career in organizational change management and community initiative implementation, I put my career on hold for our family's trip around the world. In April of 2014 we sold almost everything we own, put the rest in a storage container, and departed on this journey. While my husband continued his software development work to financially support our trip, I planned and documented our adventure, homeschooled our three daughters, and found volunteer work opportunities for us to do in the communities we visit. Now that we've returned to the U.S., I'm completing book about our family's adventure and our lessons learned.

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  1. Bed bugs! Oh that’s super gross. I applaud your calmness friend. I love that your telling the “true” story behind all of your perfect family pictures. If only we all did that on Facebook! Keepin’ it real with your travelin’ mc’s (which I hope didn’t get bedbugs). Ha!

  2. Oh No! Shades of one of our visits to Mari, when I had bedbug bites all over my face and hands from an inn in Venice! I remember the routine well!

  3. I know! Less than a week into this thing and we’ve already got the infamous bed bugs under our belt. Maybe we’ve gotten it out of the way early and won’t have to deal with it again. Fingers crossed! Ali’s a trooper though and they don’t seem to be bothering her too much.

  4. Even with losing some things, you sure seem to have it all together better than I would. Y’all enjoy this ‘down time’ which clearly is just you staying in one place for more than a few days. Now, I must go scratch lol….just the thought…bless her heart. :)

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