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Sixty-Something: My Best Vacation Mistake

T.J. Clemente

The author on vacation. (Photo courtesy of the author)

Being sixty-something I have done quite a bit of traveling. After all, Americans love to travel. I remember the days when the game was to time it that you entered the airport just in time to board the plane. Nowadays that's not the case as it's close to a shoeless MRI to get through TSI security after waiting on a long line going back and forth. That being said there is always the excitement of adventure that fuels you through all the obstacles. Over the years I have had some major screw-ups while traveling.

Before I reveal my best mistake I will talk about my worst. Easily the worst experience was when I booked my family for our annual ski vacation in Chamonix, France and rented our usual regular apartment. I did everything but the rental, which I left to someone else who could write and speak French. Back then there was no email or Internet so things were done well in advance by mail and French franc money orders. So after an all-night flight to Geneva and the usual rental car situation of arriving before the rental office opened (thus having to wait), I was able to drive the short one-hour drive to Chamonix. While driving everyone else would sleep. When I arrived in Chamonix I parked in an "Agency #1" parking space and went in with my reservation. Imagine how surprised I was when after finding someone who spoke English she told me my apartment contract was for next week! My French expert screwed up the dates, and since it was in French I never read the details. I assumed it was correct. I had some very bad next few hours, eventually the agency owner let us stay in his Chalet.

Now for my best mistake! Just this last week my wife Cindi and I traveled to Cancun, Mexico. I now book everything through Expedia. I pick the flights, the hotel, the transportation, etc. The last time we went to Cancun I chose the Fiesta Americana and loved the hotel. Therefore I booked it again or so I thought. I did not realize there were actually three Fiesta Americana Hotels in Cancun. So imagine the surprise when the hotel airport shuttle drops me off in the dark at a hotel I have never seen before. Then I am whisked into a room and not to a check in counter. In this big spacious room a nice woman welcomes us. She explains our package (the one I picked on Expedia) is their "all inclusive" package, which means all drinks, all meals, all snacks, all room service is already paid for. No towel fees, no taxes, no gratuities charges. There was even a sort of Starbucks and Ice Cream Shop all included! The strange thing is that the hotel fee last year was about the same amount as this time, but it included none of the above.

My first remark was, "This is great but there is a mistake here, I booked…." At this point my lovely wife Cindi poked me and said to the woman, "Wonderful, thank you!" For the next week I waited for the catch as we ate in their Italian restaurant, their steakhouse, on the beach lunch huts, and the specialty Mexican food restaurant. Dudes appeared almost always to ask if we wanted a beer, frozen drink(note the Blue Parrot in E.H. charges $17 for a frozen Margarita), and here they were all free.

The moment of truth came as we checked out and our worst fears, that all was too good to be true, were not realized. The bill at check out was practically nothing. As we left Cindi said, "This was easily your best mistake."

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