Reflecting on Travel Blunders in the New Year

by Deb Andrychuk

10 January, 2014

Keep CalmJanuary. For most of us in sales, January is the month of rebirth. After spending Q4 jumping through fiery hoops to get contracts negotiated and executed, most of us sales folks spend the end of December either in an aura of elation or a state of gloom. It can be an exhilarating high for those who close all of his or her deals in time or a depressing, nail biter until the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31 for those who don’t make his or her sales goals. Fortunately for all around us, we have January to quietly level us out. For some, the first month of the year is a time to strategize, get refocused on his or her pipelines and to start making calls. For me, it’s a moment to open a good bottle of wine, pour a huge glass for myself and then laugh at all of the dumb things I have done during the year, particularly while traveling. Let me share some of my biggest travel blunders of 2013 with you.

#1 Iron 5, Deb 0

I can’t tell you how many times in my years of traveling I have thought I would outsmart the hotel iron only to be put in my place. I am embarrassed to admit that earlier this year I had yet another massive failure with this utility from hell. Back in the spring, I tried to iron a crease out of the bottom of a 100 percent synthetic camisole with a nuclear hot iron. Not only did a ruin my blouse, but I’m sure I pissed off the maid who had to deal with this black blob of goo on the mini clothes dragon. Now, the downside was this horrible, incessant yearning to scratch my stomach all day. The upside was recognizing I have enormous willpower to endure an unbearably itchy and crispy triangle of material under my suit jacket during a six-hour meeting. Oh, did I mention it was about a zillion degrees in the conference room we met in? I thought I might lose my mind!

#2 Never, EVER Pull the Thread

One of my customers bought me lunch in their corporate cafeteria. Standing at the grilled food station, waiting to order, I was introduced to the CEO of the company. Giddy like a school girl at a Justin Bieber concert, I exchanged niceties with this down to earth fellow. In the midst of chatting, I felt something tickling my leg but I ignored it. As Mr. CEO continued talking and turned to receive his grilled chicken sandwich from the line cook, I took the opportunity to stealthily grab at whatever was dangling on my knee. I gave the found dangling thread a swift yank, not realizing it was attached to my clothing. Unwittingly, I had unraveled the entire hem of my skirt and was standing with a few feet of black thread in my hand and my pencil skirt was now two inches longer than when I arrived. Mr. CEO glanced down at my disaster and then at my face, suppressing a laugh the entire time. Flustered, but trying to maintain my cool, I did the only thing I could think of—I pretended like it never happened and stuffed the thread in my pocket. Goober.

#3 Medication Experimentation

My good friends know that I have chronic sinus issues. Back in the summer, my ENT decided that I should try a different antibiotic because I had a really bad sinus infection. He wrote the script late in the day, I stopped to get it filled on the ride home and then popped one before I went to bed late that night. The next morning, I had to get up at 3:30 a.m. to make my 6 a.m. flight to Kansas City, where I would make my connection to Houston. When I got to the airport, I groggily caught my reflection in a mirror and thought to myself, “Wow, you look a little puffy” and I chalked it up to no sleep. I grabbed a coffee and popped another antibiotic before boarding my flight. By the time I got to KC, I realized something was wrong because my eyelids were twice their normal size and I was starting to feel itchy. A few hours later when my connecting flight landed in Houston, I was in serious trouble. I had angry red hives the size of quarters all over my body including my face and now everything was puffed up. My throat was dry and starting to close. After a trip to the emergency room, some steroids, antihistamines and a nap, I didn’t itch anymore, but still looked like a freak. It was one of the worst days of my life—I had to go to my meeting/dinner looking like I had a horrible disease and my customers were wary of touching me or breathing the same air. It was agony.

#4 Travel Toiletry Twins

Like many frequent travelers, I have tried to quit buying mini toiletries just to throw out more plastic into the environment. On a trip to Cleveland I washed and conditioned my hair and then styled it using some newly filled toiletry bottles. As I blow-dried my hair, I started to realize that something was just not quite right with my wig. My hair wasn’t shiny and bouncy like it normally was but instead looked like it had dust on it and it was stringy and slightly greasy. Normally, I would have started over and rewashed my hair, but on this day I was running late. So unfortunately for my clients, I attended three meetings with what I discovered later was Nivea Body Lotion in my hair. Note to self: styling lotion and body lotion look and smell the same at 5 a.m.

So, there’s my list of PG-rated travel gaffes I have committed. There are some HR folks I know who might mention a tasty cheeseburger accident in the halls of the Hard Rock Vegas, but that’s another blog post. How about you? Any travel mistakes you want to share?

Wishing you a blooper-less 2014!