This is a list of (very dumb) things that I’ve done while traveling. Yes, they’re true, and no, I don’t recommend doing any of them.
-Get lost in a country where you do not speak a word of the language. Austria, 2000
This was my first international experience, and also a family vacation, so it was an experience to say the least. My cousin and I decided to go for a walk in Vienna, to get some fresh air. We were told to just walk around the block- which would prevent us from getting lost- but why would we listen to something like that? (We were 12 btw) We just started walking and soon enough we didn’t know where we were anymore. We managed to find a police station and one of the officers spoke enough English to understand that we were staying in the building with the mermaid on the side. No address, just a giant mermaid mural on the building. After a while of phenomenal people watching we were picked up by our family who, from that point on, stayed with us for the remainder of our vacation. Lesson: Carry a map, or at least know where you’re staying.
-Pack irreplaceable items in your suitcase hoping it won’t get lost, because it will. Chicago, 2008
For most of you reading this, this doesn’t apply at all, but for a select few it does. One of the things I’ve learned while traveling with the cycling team is to always carry your custom, one-of-a-kind pieces of equipment with you on the plane. This would include prosthetics. Now, I’m pretty lazy, and I don’t like to carry a bunch of stuff with me on the plane, so I check everything. Well this time I decided to pack my arm (and cycling shoes, pedals, and helmet) in my duffel and check it. Of course my bag won’t get lost! I mean, don’t they know who I am? Nothing bad could ever happen to me! Newsflash, shit happens to everyone, usually when you’re least prepared for it. This was one of those times. Sure enough, I was the last one standing at baggage claim when they turned the belt off. No bag for Greta! Somehow my bag got routed through Hong Kong or someplace ridiculous like that I wouldn’t be able to get it for at least 36 hours. Faaaantastic. I need my arm to ride (along with shoes, pedals and a helmet) and when you’re job is Cyclist that becomes problematic. I did get all my stuff back, just a while later. Lesson: Don’t pack your arm in your suitcase. Carry it with you.
-Lock your passport in the hotel safe after mistyping the lock code. Italy, 2009
This one seems like a no-brainer (I guess my brain was routed through Hong Kong with my arm as I wasn’t able to use it.) Nowadays most hotel rooms have safes for your valuables. My only valuable- beside my good looks and wit- was my passport. I decided it could go in the safe with my roommate’s stuff. This safe didn’t just close to lock, you needed to enter the code. Whatever code you enter to lock it, is the code to unlock it as well. When you mistype the locking code and don’t know what you actually typed it becomes an issue. This was an issue I didn’t want to deal with, so my roommate Babs took care of it. Here’s the good part. She found me 15min later and asked what day we were leaving. Why does this matter? She followed that up with “Well, we can wait a week for the safe guy or the hotel can drill it and we’ll have to pay $1000.” Do you have a mouse in your pocket? Who’s this “WE” you speak of? She started laughing 5 seconds after my jaw hit the floor. The hotel was able to get it open without a problem. Lesson: Remember your birthday which doubles as the safe code.