The $500 Pair of Swim Trunks and Other Things to Avoid when Traveling on a Budget.

It was in Rhode Island that a $15 dollar pair of swim trunks ended up costing us $500. lol.(yeah, so funny, I feel obligated to share this really funny story – actually consider this a favor as this sort of thing must happen to others, or something very close at least every 103 years .) Some lessons are more difficult to handle than others.

This is a little advice in case this happens to you. Say you had an important wedding to attend in another state, let’s make it Connecticut and you live in say, Colorado! Now wedding is over, the visit was perfect except for one thing – one of you really wants to make a quick trip to the beach on your way to BACK to the Airport in Boston, but the other partner needs a pair of swim trunks (well, Gee how can you remember EVERYTHING esp. when while packing for your red eye flight the “morning” before your only son’s wedding, your cell rings and a charming computerized voice lets you know your flight is canceled and here’s the number just in case you need further assistance. The friendly REAL person you speak to when you call the provided help line gives you 3 choices. The first option involved flying out of Denver to Miami, to Chicago, to Pennsylvania to Hartford, CT promising a generous 2 hour window to rent a car, find the rental house and get spruced up for the wedding OR fly to Miami and land in Boston. This meant renting a car and driving to Ledyard, Connecticut – only there’s a small hitch. Plane leaves a couple hours earlier than the canceled flight) The 3rd option would have meant missing the wedding and maybe, just maybe getting to say congratulations to the bride and groom as you make a dusty u-turn in their driveway in an effort to make the return flight from Boston.

Back to those darn swim trunks you and your loved one purchase which appear to be the cheapest most poorly made trunks on the planet and add your decision early that morning to place your personal car keys in your jeans pocket in order to be ready for driving back home when you land in Denver…….never ever put said keys in the glove box of the rental car instead of just leaving them in your jean pocket or asking your wife to stow them in her purse.

This is doubly important if you’ve rented your car from Budget. Add another hour to your commute because you’ll probably get stuck in the tunnel in Boston and your plan to fill up the gas tank right outside of the airport is not looking so promising…..I know, I know – we all know it’s just stupid to return a car empty but we didn’t see a single gas station once we emerged from the tunnel and when we inquired at Budget (we now had 45 minutes to catch our flight), two helpful Budget individuals suggested we didn’t have to worry about it because they would give us local gas station rates (apparently $18 a gallon in Massachusetts – those poor poor people!)- is this story even remotely interesting except for the the fact we appear to have never traveled in our entire lives? But OH! There’s more! I wasn’t even going to mention the pitstop we had to make at the International House of Pancakes in God Knows what town in R.I. prior to getting to the airport in Mass because the male part of this partnership left his debit card there on the way TO the wedding in Connecticut.

I had no idea that in one specific model of a late 90’s Toyota 4-Runner has keys programmed with a chip in the actual key that is absolutely necessary to start the car. With a Ace Hardware Duplicate key, you can get actually unlock the car door, and even turn the key, but alas, it won’t turn over (no matter how many times you try or pepper your frustration with curse words)Good to know that is the exact model we own! Once again, we are overwhelmed with our good fortune. Confused? So were we, but apparently all things are cleared up with a debit card……esp. one that has an interesting scent of pancakes, syrup and some sort of dried batter stuck between the numbers of the expiration date. (taking a note – find out what they put in their batter – perhaps we can make garden stones out of it as a fun craft project)

But oh, the story has a happy ending! We don’t even know the keys are missing until we land in Denver and my handsome partner, Steve checks his pockets for the keys to our humble vehicle that will take us home to our dogs, our comfy bed ************EXPLETIVE***************! It’s quiet in the airport at this hour (12 am) and my sweetheart has that look on his face that tells me something is very wrong and it’s going to suck for me too when I find out what caused this unusual outburst. “Oh…expletive…….I left the *#$%ing keys in the glovebox in the rental car”. We stood there stunned. A cab to Johnstown, CO? Heck, one of us could have flown back to Boston for that much money. Steve, fortunately still has parents. We turned 57 this summer. So we call Dad. Dad, 80 years old now and a seasoned traveler, suggests we catch “The Green Ride”……a $50 ride to a Fort Collins where we will be dumped off at a bus shelter. The Green Ride is your basic van pulling a small trailer where the driver stows our suitcases. We fly unencumbered up 1-25 with the little trailer bouncing happily behind us. We are in the very back of the van and beyond exhaustion. Meanwhile, Dad sets his alarm for 1 am to arrive at the shelter and bring us back south to our humble home in Johnstown. Everything else we’ll work out tomorrow or actually later that morning. We wait in the shelter and watch an unamused raccoon forage in the garbage can, but even he looks a little put out by our presence that has interrupted his scavenging time. We wait. No dad. We finally call 45 minutes later and *oops* dad shut his alarm off – he’s on his way – and within the hour, we are in the back seat of Steve’s parents’ car – 13 years old and a little embarrassed that we still need rescuing from our parents.

The days following were filled with frustrating attempts to reach Budget by phone and email. We also researched for miraculous solutions on the internet. Comments on posts like “You’re screwed” were the most common and we read these still hopeful there was some idea no one else had thought of yet that was going to drain our checking account. By the 3rd day, we agreed we would have to have a new key made and programmed and this nightmare comes to a close. We continued to try to reach Budget, but we get no return emails – no phone calls – zip. One am at 5 am mountain time a young woman actually answers the phone at the Budget desk at Logan Airport. What luck! I explain our situation and she tells me that the Lost and Found is closed until ten. Call back then she says. “I’m sorry, but no one answers the phone at your office at that hour and you have no voice mail so I can leave a message”……….And this sums up Customer Service at its finest. “No”, she says “We probably won’t answer. WE ARE NOT ALLOWED TO ANSWER THE PHONE WHEN WE HAVE CUSTOMERS”……..and again……no voice mail.

We still don’t have our keys. We gave it our best shot by asking Budget to assist with the fuel charges (they’ve yet to provide us with a detailed statement) and the locksmith. Absolutely not. What are we, crazy?

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