What to do, what not to do, and how to travel through the many ins and outs of working globally is an exhilarating challenge. This last week I attended a seminar that talked about what you need to know, and I realized how few people were truly educated on this subject. One question the facilitator asked of the group was, “What is your favorite country to work in?” and moments later the group was laughing at my transparent expression that revealed I mentally was ticking off all the places I had worked, and there are many of them.
Significant tip: Always double check the dates on your passport and your VISA. Don’t check “single entry” if you’re going to enter the country more than once.
Check departure dates. I found out the hard way that my visa to Russia expired the day before my flight back. Yes, I found out when I checked in, which meant I could not leave the country without applying for a new visa.
So, you know me; I tell stories and that’s how I learn. It’s also how I share. There’s lots to share, and I’ve even edited down these stories.
Here’s one I call “The Trip from Hell”:
My best friend, John Daly, and I had just finished a conference in India and took a day to sightsee and visit friends in Dubai. We were then planning a three-day vacation to see more of India as during the conference we went from hotel to convention center and back, other than a very short visit to the Taj Mahal.
We left Dubai at on a Saturday after a wonderful time. The Ritz in Dubai had been first rate. We even found baby clothes for my grandson and a Starbucks. I bought nothing, NOTHING, for myself as I was saving up for those few days in India.
After we landed at the Delhi Airport, I went through immigration without mishap and then noticed that John was not behind me. Shortening this story, they did not allow John into India because his visa said, “single entry,” and they had let him in before by mistake and were not going to do it this time. They wanted to send him back to Dubai where he could apply for another visa. We quickly figured out that this scenario wouldn’t work, because by the time he got his visa (remember it was a weekend) our vacation would be long gone.
Nothing worked after multiple calls to sort this out with the conference planners. We had a very nice tour, driver and rooms booked in India, which I had to cancel. They wouldn’t let John out of immigration. Since I had had to go out to make phone calls, they wouldn’t let me back in with him. I finally negotiated that we could go home from Delhi, if John didn’t “enter” the airport. Of course, our luggage was now at the Intercontinental Hotel in Delhi, far from the airport, especially in Delhi traffic. These negotiations for every decision went on for hours and hours with people who would listen (or pretend to) and then disappear, sometimes never to be seen again.
After a while, I sent a driver back to the hotel to get our luggage. And while John was still being guarded, I went outside of the airport (oh, if you think arriving is bad, you should see those huddled masses outside the domestic terminal late at night!) to look for the driver with our luggage. I had no clue who the driver was or what he looked like or how to find him. In the meantime, we had no tickets to get home three days early, and I couldn’t find any of the people to whom I had previously spoken.
When I tried to get back inside the terminal, they didn’t want to let me in since I had no ticket. I finally was met by someone from Air India who ushered me in and helped me meet the driver with the luggage. Then I had to try to find John with no tickets to anywhere while being told that flights not only had no business class available but were sold out. We were told that we could wait in the lounge all night and fly to London, New York and then Los Angeles … economy.
At the last minute, we did get business class to New York. This was after
ALL AFTERNOON and NIGHT in the lounge with no food. There’s a poem that starts “let me count the ways.” Paraphrased it was “let me count the days” as we had now been gone from Dubai more than 24 hours and had not either food or beverage of any kind since we left.
Here was our itinerary. Delhi to London to New York and then transfer to American to Los Angeles.
Our luggage did arrive in New York, and we got through customs and immigration and over to the American terminal. There we were told that the flight was a code share and, therefore, we needed to go to Qantas. So, we changed terminals and stood in another line. Alas, Qantas said “no” we could not go to Los Angeles unless we went to Australia first. So, back to Air India we went.
You can imagine how helpful they were. Not! Finally, though, they accommodated us on an American flight that would get us home close to midnight, L.A. time. Unfortunately, no one knew where our luggage was, but we thought it MIGHT be on the Qantas flight. No business class was available. We took it. ANYTHING. I had a cold and a bladder infection. As I think about it, that was the best part of the trip.
In any case, we arrived back in Los Angeles around , and as we went to report our lost luggage, I looked around at the long line of people waiting to report their own lost bags. What a line! And then I spotted our luggage sitting on the floor in front of the “lost baggage” area. It had arrived on the Qantas flight an hour before we did. By the way, other than a pair of earrings I got at the Delhi airport, nothing to declare. That’s a first!
John rented a car and drove me home. Finally, I curled up in my own bed with my cats. Wired to the gills. Hungry. But ever so glad to be there. Home. Was anything ever more wonderful?
The Lesson: There’s no place like home, Auntie Em.
If you want more travel adventures, click here.