Despite what Instagram leads you to believe, holidays and travelling aren’t always picture perfect. Everyone knows that when you step out of your comfort zone, there’s a risk of serious unfortunate events occurring, be it lost luggage, crime, or a ‘holiday belly’ – if you know what I mean. But, even if the logistics of your holiday goes swimmingly, there’s always a chance of a classic #travelfail.
What is a #travelfail?’ you ask. Well, it’s an experience that’s either embarrassing, awkward, or ridiculous, that takes place when you are travelling, and trust me, I’m #travelfail prone! I’ll be posting the most awful, but hilarious stories of my experiences in the UK and elsewhere.
Warning: Icky photos of injuries are shared in this post.
Picture this: seven adults – three generations – standing in line for the bag drop at Gatwick Airport. The trip had been a year in the making, coordinated by the matriarch of the family, my mother, Debbie. Waiting for us in Lanzarote were my aunt, uncle and two cousins, and the remainders – me, Dan, my parents, my nan, my brother (who awkwardly is also called Dan) and his girlfriend Demini were desperate to devour a good breakfast before the flight.
The queue for the staff operated bag drop was endless, but the queue for the self drop – a fairly recent addition to desks at major airlines was less so. Why? Was it that people wanted someone else to do all the hard work for them? After all, their holidays were beginning. Was it that people didn’t realise they could use the machines? Or was is the natural suspicion and technophobia of man leading them to trust another human being to ensure their luggage goes to the correct location?
Ever efficient, mum led us to the self bag drop with the confidence of a queen, or a slightly mad field marshal. She, dad, Dan and Demini went first, and I took on the role of captain, directing Dan and my nan to the screen next to them.
The first bag went on without a hitch: Valerie – 17kgs – tag attached – sent.
Then I clicked ‘add bag‘.
Then I realised something. I hadn’t scanned the next boarding pass. The next bag on the conveyor belt was under my nan’s name, certainly throwing her weight allowance way over the allocated 20kgs.
‘Shit,’ I gasped. There was no back button. The ticket printed and I was stood dumbfounded, not sure what to do next. Mum stopped her loading to assist.
What do I do? Is it ok? Panic ensued, and I ran to ask an assistant, who exhaustingly reassured me it was fine.
‘George, it’s a total allowance,’ someone said as I returned to the desk, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
But to our horror, the conveyor belt began to move, and Demini’s orange suitcase, which mum was yet to tag due to my idiocy, started to slowly ebb away from us, beginning its journey into the abyss.
But all’s too weak for brave Deb! The rest of us were frozen, stunned, as my mother, like Hercules diving into the pool of Hades to save a dying Megara in the Disney movie, lunged onto the conveyor belt to rescue the escaping bag. Seconds seemed to stand still as my mum struggled to pull the bag – the prize catfish – back to stationary ground.
For a moment, our whole family stood in awkward, uncomfortable silence, while mum lifted her trouser leg to reveal a gaping wound: raw and purple and pulsating. Our silence continued as we finished loading our cases, in fear that the event had ruined my mum’s holiday before it even started, and as we exited the bag drop area.
Then I caught my dad’s eye. And we couldn’t hold it in any longer. The two of us snickered, then we just couldn’t stop, especially as my dad, with full sympathy for his wife of 31 years, verbalised his vision of her as Woody the cowboy, hurtling through the hidden conveyor belts of the airport, a la Toy Story 2.