How to NOT Plan Ahead.

“We’re sorry, there’s no availability for your dates”

This is how I spent the past few days. Reading this infuriating little message, mocking me.

Sitting at the dining room table with my family we discuss our winter plans. It’s probably a bit late, but we should be able to find something right? Wrong. Well, sort of. According to every search I tried, exhausting everything I could imagine, anything worth while south of Mexico, was booked, unless we wanted to shell out a few k/night for a private villa-we did not, or pay exorbitant rates at some obnoxiously gigantic “family friendly” resort, also-we did not.

I felt like I had tried everything, even a quick call to a travel agent didn’t really yield much.  VRBO (vacation rental homes) generally a fail-safe didn’t work. But I wasn’t about to give up. We even considered cruising through the Panama Canal (I know, I know, a cruise), but dates didn’t work. Then, if by miracle, we found something! Then, right before booking it, it sells out. Profanity ensues.

I’ll admit it. It became a bit of a pride thing. As if what is the use of my random knowledge of remote lodges in the rainforest if I can’t defy the laws of travel to make something work? How hard was it to book an affordable vacation off the tourist path in Central America? Apparently, last-minute, very. I wouldn’t accept defeat! Not at two a.m., never. This was getting a bit out of hand.

I felt like I’ve thought of everything. I even woke up at four a.m. thinking I had this brilliant plan, but when I turned on my computer I realized it was the sort of brilliant mid-sleep idea that in fact, is just gibberish.

Then, I remembered this little lodge deep into Belize that I had read about. I figured it was a long shot, but sent them a message anyway. And in fact, they were booked. Mostly. They had three days available. But the concierge suggested we stay there for that time, and then they would transfer us to their sister property on Lake Peten Itza in Guatemala, where if by miracle they had availability for the remaining time we needed (and exactly that). And so, with relief (and triumph!) we booked.

Lessons from this “adventure”: book ahead. I knew this of course, but had yet to suffer the consequences of leaving things until last-minute. Probably because I try to avoid peak season travel (read: increased prices, tourists, and general obnoxiousness). Second lesson? Don’t give up! It can be done! Either that or we just got lucky, probably the latter.

In the end, it’s always worth it for the chance to travel. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to slam my head on the table a few times.

Lesson. Learned.

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