What to learn from my most dreary, time-consuming, and way-more-costly-than-it-should-have-been travel mess-up
I graduated university on December 14th, 2017. At the time of my graduation ceremony, while others were walking across the stage, listening to professors they don’t care about talking about lessons they won’t remember, I was on my way to Ireland.
Flying to New York City first, I would then take a shuttle to Stewart International Airport about 90 minutes north of the city and take a plane to Dublin; I would spend a month in the UK and Ireland ignoring the sudden abyss of lacking of worldly plan that was below me from graduating. Except, that didn’t quite happen that way. I, in what is to date my worst travel fuck-up, bought the wrong shuttle bus to get to Stewart International Airport causing me to miss my international flight.
Backing up a bit, I had found a plane ticket through Norwegian — thanks to Google Flights — for $120 to Dublin and back. I could afford this, and decided to visit a series of friends all around the UK and Ireland. I lived in Florida at the time, so my total price for a trip was not $120, but also a $70 plane ticket from Orlando to New York City, and a $30 shuttle ticket from Stewart to NYC and back. All of this was bought about a month and a half before I left.
I always go the cheapest way possible with flying: using interconnecting flights, buses to different cities with cheaper airfare, trains, whatever it may be. This can lead to longer times travelling, but also a cheaper ticket if you do it correctly. The problem that can arise, and has a few times for me before but not this bad, is that if one mode of transport is late, you may miss all the others.
In this instance, I bought a shuttle to the wrong airport. No problem right? Well, I didn’t notice until I got to the shuttle stop and a kind woman smoking a cigarette told me it was the wrong ticket. Went upstairs in Port Authority and promptly found out the last bus to Stewart was 5 a.m. It was 7:30 p.m. with my flight at 9:30 p.m. If I had found the correct shuttle the first time, I would have gotten a different flight from Orlando and made everything on time.
Such is the consequences of balancing the timetables of a shuttle and two flights. I ended up spending that evening in NYC waiting for a $40 Greyhound at 3:45 a.m. to take me to my hometown in Rhode Island. Once there, my Irish friend happened to find a flight for €190 (about $230 at the time) that evening, and bought it for me to pay him back later.
I spent about a total of a month in England, Scotland, and Ireland.
The night I flew home into NYC, I had a $30 Peter Pan bus set for me to take at 9:30 p.m. I would arrive at Stewart at 5:20pm and take the 90 minute shuttle to NYC with time to spare. What actually happened is that the plane from Dublin boarded 30 minutes late, left 70 minutes late, took an hour longer than expected, and we landed at the time I was supposed to have already been in NYC. I missed my $30 bus because the $20 shuttle had to wait for the flight and, because of traffic, had to buy another bus and waited until 4:45 a.m. to take it.
The mess at the beginning of my trip was because of my own stupidity, double check the airport shuttles you spend $30 on. The end of my trip was from transportations being late — especially with NYC, make sure you have enough time in between buses and shuttles and planes. It is not fun to have 100 less dollars in your pocket to eat because of timetable issues out of your control that you could have protected against in the first place.
These are the negatives of taking the cheapest flights where you have to take trains and buses. Most times it’s fine, just stressful if you don’t have enough time in between. To get home, I was also awake for 28 hours and had one burger in that period. Pack snacks beforehand, you never know when something will go wrong and you can’t afford food.