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The year was 1997 and I decided to solo travel to the UK, specifically England, Wales and Scotland (Great Britain). I didn’t know it then, but I was in for a trip of a lifetime!
When I told my parents I wanted to travel to the UK, my mom was all for it. She said the experience would be good for me. That it would help me to grow as a person and become more confident and responsible.
My father on the other hand wasn’t thrilled about the idea. His exact words were, “What are you trying to do? Give me a heart attack and kill me!” My dad gave me a lecture about how he served in the U.S. Army and that he, not I, would be prepared if a disaster happened.
I thanked him for his concern but was determined to travel, no matter what my parents or anyone else thought. You only have only life, and I was going to live mine to the fullest.
The next day I researched local travel agencies and made an appointment to speak with a travel agent. My meeting went well and I booked my trip.
I went home and told my parents.
My dad flipped out!
Long story short, he ended up coming with me on my trip. It was our first and last one we took together. But that’s another story about how to survive traveling with family.
I was excited about taking an international trip to the side of the world I read and learned about in my art, English, history and literature classes [love Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and other British authors and poets].
What could go wrong?
You have no idea!
Packing for a 2-Week Vacation Can Be Tricky
Like most travelers, I wanted to pack as much as I could for my trip to the UK. However, I couldn’t take everything. But one thing that was important to me was my hairdryer. Why? Because I wasn’t sure if hotels would have any or if they were powerful.
I decided to create a travel packing list. Here’s a sample of what I listed:
- Good walking shoes and socks.
- Variety of shirts [includes dress].
- Dress pants.
- Non-wrinkle skirt.
- Money belt.
- Hair styling items.
- Curling iron.
My father was an electrician and pointed out that I would need a travel adapter if I wanted to use my hairdryer and curling iron. No problem. I knew that stores sold them and figured that they couldn’t be that difficult to work. Right?
Yeah. Sometimes things don’t go as you hoped they would.
How Using a Travel Adapter Caused a Fuse to Trip in a Scottish Hotel
Since this was my first trip abroad, I read everything I could about international travel, including how to use a travel adapter.
I bought my travel adapter at Kauffman’s, which is now Macy’s. It seemed simple to use; I showed it to my dad who confirmed that it should be easy to use.
When October 1997 arrived, it was time for my dad and I to fly the friendly skies. My sister drove my dad, mom and I to Cleveland Hopkins International airport. We said our goodbyes (before TSA security) and took off for our UK adventure.
After 8.5 hours, my dad and I arrived at London Gatwick Airport. I’ll never forget it. I felt as if I was home. It was unsettling and familiar at the same time.
Julian (English), our Great Britain tour guide (I booked an escorted coach tour with Globus), met my dad, me, and our fellow travelers. We boarded a motor coach and drove through the busy traffic. It was nice to leave the driving to someone else because driving on the left side of the road and maneuvering roundabouts can be nerve wracking.
The first country my dad and I toured was England. Seeing the Roman bathhouse in Bath, England (felt as if I was there before) was mind boggling. In the 21st century, we can’t build roads that will last through the winter. The Romans, however, built the baths centuries ago and they’re still standing and functioning. Go figure.
From England, our group headed to Cardiff and Llangollen Wales. The latter is a picturesque town situated on the River Dee and on the edge of the Berwyn mountains. I would have loved to have hiked the mountains. But that wasn’t happening as we didn’t spend much time in Llangollen.
Sadly, Princess Diana died in August 1997 and was buried on September 6, 1997. Even though it was October, one month after her burial, the shops in Wales were filled with memorabilia (bought my mom a bell) and customers buying everything they could with the late princess’s image.
After Wales, our travel group headed to Glasgow, Scotland (one day/night). Once my dad and I settled into our hotel room, I decided to test my travel adapter. I plugged it into the wall socket. “Pop!” You don’t want to hear a popping or zapping noise while you’re traveling.
My dad came out of the bathroom and said, “The lights went out. What happened?”
I said, “I plugged in my travel adapter and heard a popping noise!”
“You probably blew a f****ing fuse. Damn it! Now what do we do? I don’t believe this!” my dad yelled.
“No problem. I’ll call the front desk,” I said.
I called the desk and explained the situation. The person on the other end wasn’t happy. And before I knew it there was a knock at the door. I opened it and saw a not-so-happy hotel worker, a guy, who wore a look that said, “Bloody American!”
I explained that I plugged in my travel adapted because I wanted to make sure I could use my hair dryer and curling iron. With a stern look the hotel worker said, “You tripped a switch. But it’s working now. Please try to not do that again. And by the way. There’s a hairdryer in the bathroom.”
My father was beside himself and wanted to wring my neck.
I went into the bathroom and sure enough there was a hair dryer.
Later on in the day my dad and I joined Julian, our guide, and the other guests. I think we had a buffet dinner. My dad told everyone about my travel adapter snafu. Julian, in his grandiose British accent, said, “I heard that someone tripped a switch. But it’s taken care of.”
My dad couldn’t wait to leave Glasgow because he was embarrassed that his daughter caused a travel faux pas.
I wasn’t thrilled with it either, but it’s not like it was major thing. It was a frickin’ tripped switch, which is easy to fix.
Who Else Has Had Issues with a Travel Adapter?
Imagine traveling to another part of the world for the first time. You get to see the historical sites you’ve read about in books, guides, and magazines. You get to meet and speak with new people and gain a better understanding of their culture.
Not only are you getting out of your comfort zone, but you’re learning about yourself and gaining self-confidence and learning new skills.
You’re also excited to use travel gadgets like the travel adapter you brought, so you can dry and straighten or curl your hair quickly. You plug it in and Zap! You trip a breaker.
This may be embarrassing but some people have done far worse. So don’t sweat it! Apologize and keep calm. And accept the fact that you may have a travel snafu or two along the way.
Remember that stuff happens. Have a good attitude and you’ll experience happy travels.