Big mistakes can actually be miracles in disguise.
When traveling, it’s easy for things to go wrong. Much of travel is out of our control. We can’t control the weather, unexpected changes to itinerary, or delays. I’ve always been a pretty go with the flow type of person. When mistakes happen, I choose to look at the benefits, rather than negatives. This mindset is exactly what allowed me to take back control when an unexpected change happened during my travel abroad.
I studied abroad in the Czech Republic for a semester. It was December of 2019 and it was time for me to go home. I had to get back to my family in time for Christmas, so I scheduled my flight back a few days prior to the date. I chose a connecting flight to get back.
Whenever I’m travelling abroad, I like to catch connecting flights with long layovers so I get an extra stop to check off my passport. However, this layover was short. It was only a two-hour layover in Portugal before I was boarding another plane back to the United States. I knew I’d be rushed for time during this transition, but I had no idea what was in store for me.
I woke up early in the morning and headed to the airport, ready for my flight.
That’s when the uncontrollable happened. My flight was delayed thirty minutes. It wasn’t the end of the world. I’d had delays in travel before and I would still have enough time to connect to my other flight. However, the time for takeoff kept getting pushed back. Groans escaped the mouths of the passengers waiting to board and eventually an hour and a half had passed before we were able to board the plane. I’d only have less than an hour to connect, but was still confident I could make it.
The plane landed and you could tell which passengers needed to get off the plane and onto their connecting flight. Americans and people flying to America filled the aisle and pushed their way to the front of the exit as quickly as they could, rushing out. I was less forceful. As I said, I have the mentality of whatever happens, happens. I continually reminded myself that even if I missed my flight, everything would be okay. I’d figure this out. I eventually made it off the plane and waiting at the end of the terminal was a group of angry passengers and a man with documents in his hands.
The airline employee was informing all of the passengers on my connecting flight and a few others that we would not be able to make it. However, the airline had already changed our tickets out for the next available flight and given those that would have to spend the night in Portugal a free hotel stay, a free taxi ride, and food vouchers.
My jaw dropped to the ground.
While other people around me moaned at the inconvenience, I was elated. A free stay in a country I’d never visited? Sign me up. I headed to the outdoor area with my carry-on to catch a taxi. While there, I saw a guy I recognized from my flight. We rode in the taxi to the hotel together since it was faster to get a ride if you weren’t traveling alone. I was given my room key and took the elevator up to get settled in.
The hotel was really nice and exceeded my expectations.
I had to keep pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. I had a free dinner at the hotel that night and then walked across the street to pick up a bottle of wine and a few snacks. It was already the afternoon once I got to the hotel so I took it easy and stayed in.
The next day I woke up early so I could explore Portugal before I left. My flight wasn’t until 4pm, so I had a ton of time. I went straight to the city center and began exploring all of the various monuments and points of interest. I talked with locals freely and was in the best mood.
I was taking full advantage of this random opportunity I’d been given.
On the flight back to the United States I felt restful and joyful.
To this day, that layover in Portugal was one of my best travel experiences and one I’ll never forget. Big mistakes can actually be miracles in disguise.