MURPHY’S LAW FOR TRAVELLERS

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By Derek Green

No matter where we’re going, for whatever amount of time, or how much effort we plough into the preparation, we will all invariably fall victim to one or more of the classic ‘Murphy’s Laws’ of travel along the way. In fact, the universe likely conspires to ensure that the amount of detail and care we apply to our planning efforts is inversely related to the efficiency in which the trip eventually pans out.

Here’s a list of thirty that I’ve experienced over the years – thankfully rarely more than one at a time.

  1. Your taxi will be late picking you up.
  2. Your taxi driver won’t know the way to the airport.
  3. You will arrive at check-in to find the baggage handlers are on strike and the queue is 700 people long.
  4. After removing your boots, belt, watch, jewellery and wallet you will still manage to set off the security alarm. Maybe it’s the metal plate in your skull.
  5. Airport security won’t accept your home-printed-out boarding pass – which you were so smug about possessing – and you will need to go back to the airline desk for a real one.
  6. Departure gate 479 will be at the absolute arse-end of the airport terminal, and you’re going to need to (forcibly) commandeer one of those golf buggy things to get there in time.
  7. You will finally arrive only to find out that your plane has been re-assigned to gate 697 over in Terminal 4.
  8. The airline won’t tell you that your plane has been delayed for 3 hours until you actually (finally) arrive at the gate.
  9. There will be 398 people also waiting at the departure gate and only 70 seats.
  10. The ‘free’ Wi-Fi will not be free
  11. You will finally board the plane after midnight, just to sit on the tarmac – trapped – for another 2 hours with no explanation.
  12. Due to the Chilean volcanic ash cloud, your flight will fly at low altitude which means the pilot won’t be allowed to try and “pick up time” – in fact it’s going to take 2 hours longer than usual.
  13. Even though you booked and paid in full for your flight 6 months ago, confirmed with the airline a week ago, and checked in online 2 days ago, your seats will be re-allocated and none of your party will be together.
  14. The person in front of you will recline their seat immediately upon take-off, at which point you will discover that your seat is broken, and will not actually recline.
  15. You will sit between 2 people who know each other and want to talk all night but neither will swap seats with you (who in their right mind would give up a window or aisle seat?).
  16. They will be out of the beef and chicken, with only a gluten free, non-dairy vegan meal remaining. Which will turn out to be a glass of water and a raw carrot.
  17. The kid behind you will have ADHD and kick the back of your seat constantly.
  18. The entertainment system will die – for good – right at the point of the movie when you’re about to find out “who done it”.
  19. Mr Window and Mrs Aisle will decide to get drunk, and manage to spill a Jim Beam and Cola on your seat while you are in the lavatory.
  20. They will not say anything, and hope you won’t notice. Your pants will then smell like Jim Beam and Coke.
  21. A fellow passenger will have a heart attack mid-flight and you will have to make an emergency landing somewhere in the Arctic Circle. (To be clear – not you, the pilot)
  22. By the time you get back in the air it will be quite clear that you will miss your connection.
  23. In the rush to get off the plane when it lands, Mrs Aisle’s 2 litre bottle of duty free Kahlua will roll out of the overhead compartment and scone you.
  24. Customs will be suspicious of you and your bleeding head, and will go through every possession you own with a fine-tooth comb.
  25. Finally you will clear customs and make it to the baggage area. But your luggage will not.
  26. You will spend 3 hours on the phone to the airline – which could have been spent in the pool – trying to squeeze a paltry $39 travel emergency voucher out of them to buy the essentials while you wait for your luggage to arrive from Denver, Colorado.
  27. The car hire company will give away the last car in the category you booked and paid for 4 months ago and will only offer you either a) a 2 door compact “Yugo” for the same price or b) a petrol-guzzling, 8 door “Canyonero” for an additional $220 a day
  28. You will return the car only to find out that the car rental office is closed and you will need to leave the car with the laundromat attendant next door.
  29. The car company will call you 2 days later to ask where their car is, and notify you that they are withholding $4,000 from your credit card until you return it.
  30. You will have no money left due to 29) above and have to spend the last 3 days of your holiday in your hotel room, eating as many 39cent McDonald’s Cheeseburgers as you can afford.

And so this will be the time of your life – or at least one you’ll never forget – and you will return home feeling like you are the only one in the world who plays by the rules.

And all the while you WILL have your tray table up and your seat back in the full upright position. Happy trails!

The writer travelled independently (except for the times he was being screwed over by multi-nationals).

Photos by Tim Gouw, Skitterphoto and Joshua Humphrey via Pexels

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