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The Dangerous Business of Going Out Your Door I am often tired of myself and I have a notion that by travel I can add to my personality and so change myself a little. I do not bring back from the journey quite the same self that I took. - W. Somerset Maugham

Some Bumps in the Road

BULGARIA | Sunday, 24 April 2016 | Views [322]

I've had pretty good luck in my travels so far, so I really can't complain, but I wanted to share some bumps in the road that I've encountered. I've hesitated to mention these out of superstitious fear that if I complained about these minor things, it would cause worse things to happen, but I've decided to go ahead with it. It's just that I want to share that things can, and probably will, go wrong at some point during travels of any length, and especially during longer travels. If you're considering traveling, you have to be realistic about it and have backup plans when you can. For me, several things happened in close succession, and to be honest, there were are few times that I just wanted to give up, go home, and wrap myself in a security blanket.

The first issue was with my debit card. A couple of weeks before I left home, I realized that my debit card would expire while I was traveling, and I had not received an updated one. I called to inquire and was told that the updated one would not be mailed until it was too late. There was nothing more to do. The last few days of my trip, I would not have a working debit card. I would just have to make sure I had plenty of cash before then. It made me a little uneasy, but I could deal with it.

Next was our taxes. We owed state income tax this year, so my husband sent the payment via certified mail a couple of weeks before he left to join me. Long story short, the postal service tracking information never showed that it was delivered and the check still hadn't been cashed before my husband flew out. Cue panic of tax delinquency and accusations of fleeing the country for tax evasion. I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with the postal service and the state tax authority trying to figure out what to do. No one could give me a definitive answer of whether the payment had been received and just not processed yet or what. In the end, I was advised to wait another week and see if it turned up. If not, I could cancel that check and pay with a credit card over the phone. That plan calmed me down, and I had to make a conscious decision to just put it on the back burner and not worry about it for at least another week.

The next thing was completely my fault and I still can't believe I did it. I am traveling with one backpack and one small rolling suitcase. I left the suitcase on the bus from Tallinn to Riga. I just got off the bus with my backpack and walked away. I didn't realize it until I reached the entrance to my hostel. Panic. My first instinct was to run all the way back to the bus station and hope that the bus was still there. But it had been about a 15 minute walk, and it would be another 10-15 minutes back, so it was unlikely that the bus would still be there. Instead, I went into the hostel and explained what had happened. To my relief, they said the bus company had just called about it. I absolutely hate changing my luggage tags every time I go somewhere new, but I always make myself do it, and this is why. When they found my bag, they had a way to reach me. The hostel receptionist called them back and told them I was on my way back to get my bag. Everything was handled very well and resolved smoothly, but it shook me up. How could I just forget it like that?

Then on my Riga to Berlin flight, the zipper to the same bag was almost destroyed. When I picked the bag up in baggage claim, one side of the zipper closure had been ripped completely off of the zipper and was only hanging on because it was locked to the other closure. The lock looked like it had been caught on something and had been nearly pulled off. The bag was partially unzipped from the damage, but luckily, not enough for anything to come out. I was able to repair it enough to be able to zip it completely, but I had no way to lock it. I flew with it like that from Berlin to Sofia, but I really didn't like not being able to lock it. Wandering around Sofia, we accidentally found a luggage shop, so my husband convinced me to buy a new bag. Problem solved, and no real harm done, but I hated the extra expense and the disruption to the familiar packing routine with the bag I had. Getting used to a new bag felt like a disproportionately big deal because I was starting to feel overwhelmed and weary with the other little things. My OCD tendencies were kicking in to try to ward off any more oversights or accidents, and OCD does not like having to change bags mid-trip.

But, I quickly forgot about the new bag when I found fraudulent activity on my credit card. I had to have the card cancelled. Luckily, I had a backup card, but it would incur foreign transaction fees whereas the card I had been using did not. Remember, my debit card would expire soon too. So, whereas I started with three good cards, I was now down to one and praying nothing would happen to it. Finding fraudulent activity on your card at home is disconcerting enough, but finding it while traveling long term made me feel so vulnerable and tired. It was after I hung up from having the card cancelled that I really considered cancelling the rest of the trip and flying back home with my husband. I'm so glad he was with me during that time. He would have supported either decision, but he knew I would regret it if I cancelled because of this, so he encouraged me to stick to my plan. I still had a debit card for now, I had plenty of cash, I could get more cash before it expired, and I still had the backup credit card. It wasn't so bad. I knew this logically, but I needed to sleep on it.

In the meantime, I nervously checked my bank account and backup credit card account to see if they had any fraudulent activity. Luckily, they didn't. And as a bonus, while checking my back account, I saw that my state income tax check had finally been cashed. It was a good omen that everything would work out in the end, so I have chosen to believe that and to carry on.

Now I just need to stop having dreams in which I find that my bank account is empty! ;)

Tags: backup, planning, preparation, sabbatical, travel

 

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