My best holiday incident

  • 2013.04.21

With the temperatures gradually rising and Golden Week approaching rapidly, I have started to muse about exotic travel adventures. A lesson about travel hassles I taught recently reminded me that it’s often the little problems we inevitably encounter while traveling that end up making the best memories.

Let me take you back 22 years ago, in 1991. I was still in Junior High School at the time and had a full head of curly brown hair – yes, it’s me in the picture, in Prague. On a sunny July morning, my family and a family of friends – that’s two heavily loaded cars, seven overexcited children and their parents in all – set off towards the Czech Republic.

It was an amazing journey filled with interesting visits, surprising encounters, and loads of fun. However, my most vivid memory of our expedition remains an incident that occurred as we were crossing the German countryside on our way back to France. We had stopped for lunch in a rest area and were ready to hit the road again when I felt an irresistible urge to go to the bathroom. When I came back to the parking lot, everybody was gone. Since the kids had often been switching cars during the 3-week tour, no one had noticed I was missing. They had abandoned me.

After going through all the emotions of the rainbow, I made the decision to try and follow the cars. “After all, two vehicles with French license plates and big roof boxes won’t go unnoticed,” I thought. So, I started running on the side of the road, asking anyone I met if they hadn’t by any chance spotted the cars. And it worked! I was able to follow their track for what seemed like very long but very thrilling kilometers. It was my own adventure and I was the hero. Until it started to get dark…but I was so elated that even that didn’t damp my spirits. I ran into a farmer on his way home from the fields and, after I told him my story, he generously offered me a shelter for the night. I was about to follow him into his home when I saw the headlights of a car coming toward us. And sure enough, it was my mother looking for me. Talk about lucky timing! After thanking the kind farmer, I got on the car and was soon reunited with my family. However, the story wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t tell you how they realized I was missing. After arriving at the hotel we had booked for the night, they started looking for me…because I was the only one who could speak German!

So, if you are going on a trip this year, don’t stress too much over the planning. There’s always going to be that little grain of sand that grips even the most thorough organization. Instead, learn to enjoy the unexpected and think about the good stories you’ll be able to tell your friends when you come home. One more piece of advice, if I may. Parents, always count your children before you drive off. And children, always tell your parents to wait for you when you suddenly need to answer nature’s call.