Barcelona: Dumb travel mistakes we made (so you don't have to)

Updated: Jan 27

As we awoke to the sound of the alarm in our Girona hotel room on our last day in Spain, we had a little more spring in our steps than we normally would at the end of a trip.

We had a wonderful journey exploring Spain for the first time. But that was just the first country on our itinerary. Our flight home made a stop in Dublin and there's no sense in merely killing a couple of hours on a layover when you can exit the airport and tear it up in Dublin's Temple Bar district for a few days. So we were electrified with anticipation and I could already taste my first Guinness. We packed our things, carefully placing a couple of bottles of wonderful Tempranillo into our checked bags so we could enjoy them back home when we reminisced about our trip. We packed up our rental car and headed back to Barcelona for the short flight to the Emerald Isle.


It was a fairly quick hour and a half drive back to the Barcelona airport and we left plenty early. As we chatted about our week's adventures, a random thought popped into my head. "Do you have the passports?" The question was met with "I don't think so, do you?" Panic ensued and we pulled over as fast as possible to tear through our carry on bags in search of the elusive passports, hoping for the best. After failing to find the passports where they obviously could not be, we both reached the inevitable conclusion: They were still in the safe in our hotel room!!!! Oh, no!!! What time is it? What time is our flight? Can we make it back in time? We were about an hour away from the hotel we left that morning. It was possible. But barely. We needed our passports for travel regardless, so we turned around and headed back to Girona. Fast! Expletives flying the whole way. We called ahead and arranged for a swift handoff at the hotel. I waited in the car at the curb, engine running, like a getaway driver awaits a bank robber. Jennifer quickly came running back out of the hotel with passports in hand and jumped into the car. I hit the gas and dropped the clutch before the door slammed shut.


At this point we had burned two hours but we had left extra early that morning and it was indeed still possible. When we got to the airport we dumped the rental car and ran as fast as possible to the Ryan Air check-in counter. The first thing they told us was that there was no way our checked bags could make it, but they took pity on us and said if we ran to the gate and made it just in time we could check our oversized bags at the gate. Sure, sure, we can do that. We will run like the wind. There was one small catch however. The cherished liquid that was sealed under cork inside green glass bottles in our luggage could not go through security. The decision was painful but we had no choice. Thirty seconds later the staff was handed our wine bottles for their personal enjoyment and we were off and running.


They hadn't made us any promises. It would be down to the wire to get to the gate. But we were feeling optimistic and speedy. Emboldened by a fast cruise through security, we turned the corner for what we thought was the final stretch toward the gate and then our whole world became slow motion. Oh nooooo!!! Passport control! In all that craziness with the passports we had forgotten that we actually had to show them to a customs officer before we were granted access to the departure gates.

And we were not the only ones there. By a long shot. The line was long. The clock was ticking. The two people who believe anything is possible were now questioning whether it was. We gave it 5 minutes, which was futile. The few remaining minutes before departure evaporated and we were faced with a grim reality. Our flight was leaving without us.


A few hours later and our wallet $500 lighter, we were on an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin. The city was fabulous and the Guinness was better than ever.

We learned a valuable lesson on that trip. Never, ever depart your hotel for the final time without checking the safe for valuables. And passports. That is a lesson we will never forget, nor should you. From that day forward, the safe is always checked. Even if we didn't use it. Usually three times. It was a costly and stressful lesson. I sure hope the airport staff enjoyed the Tempranillo.


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