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This is a true story of a lady’s travel experience earlier this month. I hope you pick up a few lessons from it. I share mine after the story:

After a few days meeting and bonding with her niece, her brother-in-law dropped her at the airport. Due to poor planning, she didn’t get to check-in online and thought she’d be able to do it at the airport. She arrived an hour before her flight was scheduled to leave ‪at 7.05p‬m.

She inquired about checking in, and was told it would cost her €45 for the service. Way to go, Ryan Air! Being as she was flying back to the UK and didn’t anticipate a need to spend at the airport, she didn’t have any euros but had some pounds, which is not accepted as tender in Köln. She was directed to a bank where she could change the money and then come back to pay. “But hurry,” the agent said, “you have limited time.”

At the bank counter, she asked how much £40 would get her. “That would be (clicks calculator buttons) €37.” With a look of desperation, she asked, “Is that all I can get? I need €45.” At this point, she could feel the tears coming. She had a feeling this would happen since she didn’t check in online as she usually would have. He paused and pressed some more buttons, “the most you can get is €42.” Ok, she thought. That’s better than thirty seven.

Now with some tears having pushed through the barriers of her eyes and coming down her cheeks, she asked, “please can you spare €3 of your own money? I really need €45 to pay for my check in. Please.”
She showed him the slip she’d been given at the counter with her name and some abbreviations with boxes beside them, only one checked, but not the required amount to be paid. Still, somehow, she hoped it’ll help.

He handed her the €42 and a receipt, then got his wallet, confirmed how much she needed and gave her €3. “Thank you”, she said through tears. More than anything, she was moved that this stranger saw the truth in her eyes and allowed himself to believe in her. Angels still walk the earth, she thought.

Putting herself together, she headed back to pay at a different counter where she was given a receipt, after which she went to finally get this service. The agent made a phone call and then said to her, “I’m sorry, Ma’am, the flight is now closed”. Her head was spinning. This people sent me on a wild goose chase only to tell me I can’t go?
“What? Wait. Please. You have to help me. But I’m here and the plane is still here. Please. It’s only‪ 6.35pm.‬”
“I’m sorry Madam, there’s nothing I can do. I’ve called my supervisor and checking in is closed. It closes 40 minutes before departure.” She was disappointed.

She was directed to see his colleague “over there” for more information about alternative flight options. There was another in 2 hours that would cost €100 and there was yet another the evening of the next day which would cost €26 if it was booked online.

She weighed her options: getting her brother-in-law to come back and make the airport trip again the next day to drop her off versus just going with the next one. Plus this is a new daddy who should be bonding with his princess not making unnecessary airport trips.

On the other hand, she had another trip in two days after which she had to get back to the UK to catch. Going with the €26 option on the evening of the next day would truncate her plans. She decided it was better to take the next available flight, which got her home a few hours later than planned, but at least on the same day.

Therefore, dear traveler, here are a few things to note, whether on your first trip or your fourteenth.

• Check-in Online
Set a reminder to check-in online, just in case you get so deep in errands that you forget or have a lot of last minute things to do. It saves you time and clearly, money.

• (Accessible) Vex money
This means extra cash, in case of an emergency. Having savings is a blessing, a MasterCard or some extra cash in hand is a brilliant idea. Take a bit more than you need in case something comes up.
If you have savings you can’t access on the proverbial ‘rainy day’, what’s the point?

• Do What You Need To
Do the needful. Step out of your comfort zone. Asking that man for €3 was probably not the easiest thing for the lady in the story, but when the going gets tough, fine girl swag goes out the window for a little while. Furthermore, you’re abroad, you’ll probably never see this person again so it’s okay.

•Ask Again
Notice also how she was offered €37 for £40, but ended up getting €42? Its not clear why the money merchant was trying to keep her fiver but by asking again, she wasn’t cheated.

I hope this story helps someone and hopefully saves you from having a similar experience. Do you have any travelling tips? Please share in the comment section.

Have a great day!
MBW

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