Spontaneous Travel and Last Minute Decisions
Organize, Organize, Organize
If you know me, you know I’m a planner. I plan ahead, I organize, I schedule. This is true for our travel, of course. I have flights and hotels booked (at least) several weeks, hopefully months ahead of time. I spend hours researching routes and airlines and prices to the point of Shaun exclaiming to just book one already! That being said, the last 48 hours have been a whirlwind. Our itinerary has shifted from flying home to California in a week, to instead flying to Tokyo in 3 days.
First, A Back Story
Shaun signed up for the Ichinomiya Chiba Open (outside of Tokyo) surf contest over a month ago, and we decided we would go to Japan if he got in or we would stay longer in Bali if he did not. Unfortunately, he got waitlisted. The contest is ranked a QS6000 – Shaun has competed in QS1000/QS3000 contests – so this is a big one. We knew before signing up that it could be a long shot for him to get in.
Because they use the 2015 ranking for the first 6 months of 2016 to determine seeds and ranking, all of his points he’s racked up the past few months do not count until the second half of 2016 (very confusing and complicated, I know). So, he was placed around 29th on the waitlist and we both dismissed the idea of going to Japan. Oh well.
Two days ago (three weeks later), we wondered what ever happened with that waitlist. Shaun’s 7th. What the hell? He’s moved up 22 spots and the event is still a whole week away. So many thoughts start racing through my head: How many more people will cancel? How far up the waitlist does he have to get to convince us to go? Is this rare or common for waitlists to diminish so quickly? Should we go to Japan?!?
Our Challenges Ahead
- Obstacle #1: We already booked our flight home from Bali and it’s quite complicated. We have an AirAsia flight to Singapore, Qantas flight to Sydney and another Qantas to San Francisco. Total is about $1,000 and I’m obviously not going to throw that money away.
- Obstacle #2: Remember I’m a planner! I already had the next week of Airbnb’s booked in Bali! Unfortunately it has a “strict” cancellation policy and unable to get any refund, if we were to cancel. More money down the drain.
- Obstacle #3: Even if we did get a refund for our already booked flights, how much MORE money will it cost to get to/from Tokyo and home? Also, because we’re traveling with surfboards our choice of airlines is super limited (surfboard baggage fees can be deadly- we’ve heard horror stories of $500+ per flight).
- Obstacle #4: Why am I getting so ahead of myself when he’s still on the waitlist? He hasn’t been added to the event yet! This is all still hypothetical, right?
Except, later that night we check the waitlist and he’s #6. The next morning he’s #4. People are dropping like flies and we start seriously considering going to Tokyo. Shaun really wants to compete in a QS6000. I really want to go to Tokyo.
We Decide to Bite the Bullet
We cancel our flights home and get a majority refund. We cancel our pre-planned Bali Airbnb’s and get no refund. It’s definitely costing extra ($320 each in cancellation fees and lost money, to be exact) but we decided it’s worth it. I know in my gut that we will regret this if we don’t go. I worked three jobs and saved every penny to be able to splurge abroad. This is my splurge! We have to go!
A Stroke of Luck
After hours of research and search engines we find a direct flight from Bali to Tokyo for $320. Not bad! But then I start looking up flights home from Tokyo, and it starts to seem like a mighty big splurge… The cheapest is over $800 and it’s on a random Chinese airlines with multiple layovers. Is it worth it? We literally spent all day on our laptops trying to piece this together, clearing my cookies and trying new search websites, desperately looking for a decent flight home…
I try a new search on Expedia. $580 from Tokyo to LAX to SFO. American Airlines. Nothing even came close to this price before. I clicked “book” before I even checked the dates. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I thought it was a scam. How did this flight from heaven magically appear?! I’m still in awe. It’s real! We booked it! Curiously, this ($320 + $580) comes out to nearly exactly the same amount we just cancelled.
Shaun checks the waitlist again now that we’re committed… he’s #2.
There’s still four days until the contest starts and since he’s been bumping up so quickly, I’m feeling pretty optimistic he’s going to get in. Worst case scenario, we go to the event and he’s an alternate. It’s not RARE for alternates to get in- surfers aren’t the most punctual people (i.e. late to heat, missed their flight, forgot to cancel their sign-up and don’t show up, etc.). Either way, we’re doing it!
We’re going to Japan!!
. . .
Update: (9 hours after originally posting this) Shaun received an email, “Due to cancellations, you are now confirmed in the Ichinomiya Chiba Open.” He’s in.