3 Travel Lessons: The Advantage of Persistence, Flexibility and an Upgrade

11/25/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Travel often seems to teach me lessons I never learned in school.

Of course, when I was a kid -- there were friendly skies to fly, if you lost something at a hotel, you usually got it back, and I had less responsibility.

The first two nights of my trip were spent at a Hyatt in Sonoma County. As my head hit the pillow at my second destination in Orick, California I realized I had left the charger for my Canon G10 camera and the extra battery charging in the wall of my room at the Hyatt. It was midnight, so I waited until the next day to call.

The next day, I began calling the Hyatt inquiring whether my charger and extra battery had been found. For the next three days, I kept calling -- once or twice a day. I insisted to both housekeeping and the front desk that my charger had to be there unless the maid had thrown it out, kept it or it had been taken by the next guest in the room. Each time they patiently told me it had not been found.

After I arrived at LAX while awaiting a shuttle, despite having no hope left at all, I decided to call one last time. Much to my surprise, the housekeeping supervisor said: "Is it black grey with a little battery inside?" I said yes, and they said they had found it.

The next day when I called to give them my FedEx number to ship it home to me, Maria said: "I think because you kept calling and I kept asking -- it turned up."

LESSON: If you know you left a valuable piece of equipment in the wall of a hotel room, keep calling to inquire because your persistence may pay off like mine did.


The purpose of my trip was to go elk watching in Northern California during rutting season. I needed my camera to photograph the elk, so I was really bent out of shape when the battery in my camera lasted only ten minutes before dying. My friend immediately gave me her Canon to use. Although I initially whined wishing her camera was the same model as mine, I soon realized how lucky I was to have any camera at all.

More often than not, travel doesn't go exactly as planned. Whining does little good, so adjust and move on (unless you are whimpering and insisting to a hotel that you left equipment behind). I also realized yet another advantage to shooting digital photos. You can borrow someone's camera, download the photos to your laptop and give them back their camera.


These days flying coach often feels more like being squeezed into a can of sardines than a seat. And sardines don't require elbow room and leg room like humans do. Even in coach, however, Virgin America is pretty darned comfortable with its mood lighting and seats with lumbar support in each class of service.

On my last flight from San Francisco to LAX, the kiosk offered me the option of paying $50 to upgrade to First Class, and I turned down the offer thinking "How could a 50 minute flight be worth it?"

This time, since I needed to check a bag (filled with bottles of wine from exploring Sonoma County), I thought an upgrade made sense. Checking my bag on my coach ticket would cost $20, so $30 more to experience first class seemed to make sense.

Wow, was my response. I thought coach was comfy on Virgin America, but First Class makes you want the 50 minute flight to last longer. The Mother of a two year old kid who was also flying first class said her son wanted the flight to last longer too. The buttery leather seat made me feel like I was flying in a luxury Mercedes Benz. The seat reclines without limiting the legroom of the passenger behind you. I will be saving up to travel cross country in luxury. And First Class has a great adjustable reading lamp (which I had thought was some kind of microphone to request service when I noticed it on previous flights as I ambled back into the depths of coach).

The passenger next to me had upgraded to First Class for $25 because he had paid for a premium main cabin seat. He always tries to upgrade to first, even for the short haul flights.


For First Class upgrade info....