Since we’ve temporarily settled into Mahahual for a good portion of the year, our travel has been reduced quite a bit. But those times when the homeowners come down to enjoy their house? Well we’re off to catch up with family and friends and house sit in as much of the world as we can in that time, hopefully as inexpensively as possible.
But here’s the thing with trying to travel cheaply – it typically means you have to forego some things or sacrifice a bit. Look, we have way more time than money (way, way, way more time). So driving for two days to get to a house sit? You bet. Especially in Mexico where there’s great scenery and we never fail to see interesting stuff along the way. Or taking advantage of deeply discounted airline tickets by flying standby? Well, there’s a chance we won’t make the flight, but if we do, we paid way less than the person we’re sitting next to. And if we miss one flight, eh, we certainly have enough time to wait around for the next one. So usually, the time vs. money thing works out for us. Usually. Because there came a time for us recently when it didn’t. Over and over again.
Maybe we just got lucky the past few years of traveling, or maybe we used up all of our good travel karma. Whatever the case, we’ve been hit hard the last few months with some truly terrible travel. Here’s the funny (?) part. Our travel woes started before we ever left Mahahual.
Yes, we left Mahahual with our filthy spare tire inside of our car (and it was flat). Not under the car where it is practical, makes sense and is supposed to be. Inside. Because while packing the car we found out that the place that it belongs was broken and our attempts to get it fixed before our travels were a failure. So off we went thinking, ‘boy this sucks, but it could be worse.’ In hindsight, we really should shut our big fat traps. Because worse it got. And worse and worse. I’m not going to go through step by step what happened, primarily because no one has that kind of time to revisit it. But I will tell you that our car broke down on the way up from Mexico. Twice. Requiring tow trucks (that’s plural), extensive mechanical work and stays in a couple of towns that weren’t part of our planned itineraries (nor will they ever be). Oh yeah, we also got rear-ended, smashed our windshield on a bird and had a nightmare hours long border crossing.
To recap so far – 4 separate instances of car trouble, 3 trips to different mechanics, 2 tow trucks, 1 smashed tailgate and a 4 day trip that took about 7 days and cost about 10X as much as it should. Well, at least the road trip was over and we were off to far away lands and maybe the travel gods would reward us with a surprise upgrade to First Class or something to reward us for our troubles. For real, that
once happened can happen when you fly standby.
First Class this time? Um, no. Unfortunately, this time around, our seats looked more like this.
That’s the life of standby flying. High risk, high reward. This time around, the risk did not pay off. Remote location, bad weather, equipment failures on planes + a high volume of people traveling over the holidays means there were canceled or delayed flights, few seats available and we were left out in the cold. I mean that literally. We had to spend one night at an open-air airport. And man, that night got COLD.
On top of the unexpected car expenses (of which there were many) there were extra nights in hotel rooms, flights and expensive airport meals (and much needed drinks) that we hadn’t budgeted for. This time away from Mexico has put us into some serious debt. But I really hope this doesn’t come across as a poor me post. That’s not my intended point. I’m sharing all of this with you because I want you to know that a life of frequent travel can be hard, and not as glamorous as some people would lead you to believe. Personally, I really don’t have the stamina for constant travel (although maybe actually paying full-price for airline tickets might help ease some of that anxiety).
I also want you to know that at one point in the middle of the night as we lay freezing on metal benches we asked each other if all this terrible travel was worth it. There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation from either of us. Yes. Unequivocally yes.
The reality for us is we either fly standby, or we don’t go. We can’t afford plane tickets to some of the locations we desire to visit. We also have to drive places, or we likely can’t afford to go there either. And so I guess it’s not our choice to travel this way, but it is our choice to travel anyway. Because at the end of the day? We got those broken down cars fixed and we eventually got on planes that got us to where we wanted to be.