Most times when you go on vacation you wish you could stay longer. Five days and four nights isn’t nearly enough time in paradise; even 10 days can fly by when you really love a destination (and are dreading returning to work). And then there are times when things are so bad you wish you never came — and you try to leave as fast as you can.
A friend of mine recently told me a story about taking a trip with seven other people who are members of one of the travel group’s she’s in. They’d had the opportunity to check out a hotel on a remote island not many people visit and when they touched down, accommodations weren’t exactly what they expected. To top it off, it was very difficult to get some of the essentials they needed to feel comfortable during their stay and food wasn’t exactly easily accessible. By the next morning, one of the members of the group had had enough and peaced out on the first flight they could get. My friend said she initially thought the girl’s response was a bit extreme but when things never improved from the second day on she realized maybe she should’ve followed suit.
When my friend first told me the story I agreed with her. I thought, things couldn’t have been that bad that ol’ girl didn’t even give the island a chance. And then I remembered sitting in a hotel room in the Shangri La in Manila nearly two years ago trying to reach Air China so I could return to New York City as soon as possible and I realized, yes they could.
In the Philippines I was more than out of my element for a number of reasons. But I could’ve tolerated the constant stares from locals who’d never seen a Black woman before and the KFCs on every corner if I at least had somewhere comfortable to rest my head at night. See the Shangri La was not a part of the plan — or my budget — but after an Airbnb bamboozlement situation involving roaches and unreliable internet I told my sister pack her bags and book a room on my card. She was only willing to split the cost for two nights and when I thought about checking out of the comfort of the luxury hotel and back into another Airbnb I just couldn’t fathom it. Nothing about the four days I’d spent in Manila thus far had been enjoyable, from Muntinlupa to Parañaque and Makati. All I wanted to do was be on American soil in a crowded subway train listening to a Dominican musician beat his drum at 8 am, annoying every half-awoke passenger inside the car instead of being hounded by beggars in the streets who yelled at us when we didn’t give them money and who gave us an entirely different view of true poverty. And so I spent whatever it cost to wait on the line for some 30 minutes of international call roaming to speak to a representative and beg them to let me return to dirty New York City because I was going absolutely crazy. As poor luck would have it, I wasn’t able to leave any earlier and I had to tough out the last two days cooped up in another Airbnb counting down the hours ’til my flight.
It was an experience that turned me off to traveling for an entire year — like I didn’t even go to Ohio for Christmas because I didn’t want to see another airplane. But having had more positive experiences since then, I know you can’t win ’em all when you voyage to an unknown destination. That being said, I am still not above trying to make a swift exit if need be when life abroad isn’t the experience I was hoping for.
Have you ever left a vacation early because you weren’t comfortable?