August 3, 2013


So we pulled into the Hilton Garden Inn in Appleton/Kimberly, Wisconsin, excited about this next part of our adventure. My partner gave his last name at the front desk, the customary way of checking in for the night.

No reservation.

I gave my last name, remembering I had booked the reservation through Travelocity. One of the things about this particular reservation is that I had snagged one of the last one or two rooms in the area due to the EAA AirVenture ( currently taking place in nearby Oshkosh (the reason we're in town here).

No reservation.

And they were completely sold out.

Using the Travelocity email that was provided to me when I booked the room back in April, I showed the front desk clerk my reservation number, which apparently did not have enough digits nor did it even resemble anything that they had ever seen before.  The fact that "Your credit card has been charged" was emblazoned across the bottom of this reservation escaped no one's notice.

The hotel clerk was very apologetic and if you're ever in the area looking for a hotel, I can vouch that Amanda at the Hilton Garden Inn is very friendly and professional, even when dealing with Travelocity on a customer's behalf.  They arranged the refund to our credit card for us and even checked into the nearby Hampton Inn to see if there was a room available.

We snagged the last room. It's a room with one double bed but they're providing a cot (we're big boys) so all is good.

However, Travelocity has been a complete fail.  Not knowing that the clerk at Hilton Garden Inn had arranged for our refund (we were driving across the city trying to get this last room at the Hampton Inn), we were on hold for over 25 minutes listening to really bad hold music and a woman with a Brooklyn accent letting us know that someone "will assist ya soon" ever 15 seconds. When I finally reached the customer service representative, he made the mistake of asking how I was doing today.

"I am aggravated."  I think he was taken aback by my response. I was just being honest.  That's the first time I actually answered how I was really feeling. It felt good.

I have to wonder how many people have traveled the world on reservations through Travelocity and had to deal with this sort of thing. Is this some sort of freak accident or is this something that happens regularly for Travelocity customers?

I can say with no trace of humor or uncertainty in my voice that this is the last time that we're using Travelocity.  The Hilton Companies have gone above and beyond for us today and there's a reason that we maintain a loyalty to their brand (my husband is a Diamond Club member due to all the travel he does for work).  

From now on I'm sticking to reservations that I know are real and leaving the middle man out. It's not worth the aggravation.



One of the things I love about travel is trying things that we can't do around home, even if what we're doing would seem mundane to most.

We are currently sitting in a Starbucks in Crystal Lake, Illinois. We are en route to Oshkosh, Wisconsin and are taking the back roads to get there. We are becoming well acquainted with Illinois Route 31.

Our little nook in Upstate New York lacks Starbucks. Many find this hard to believe. We are surrounded by dozens of Dunkin' Donuts franchises, and there's nothing inherently wrong with DD, but their stores lack a certain warmth and "technology comfort" that one finds in Starbucks. Plus, DD doesn't serve a Trenta unsweetened, shaken green tea. This is one of my favorite, fairly guiltless drinks. There are two ways for us to enjoy Starbucks at home: drive 50+ miles to the nearest location or to illegally sneak through the backside of one of the nearby New York State Thruway service areas and pay exorbitantly high prices for the aforementioned green tea. Plus, the service area franchisees don't believe in attaching scanners to their point of sale systems, so the clerk needs to manhandle my phone and manually input my Starbucks account number, whereas at a real Starbucks it's just a quick scan and we're on our way.

Sometimes it's the simple things that make a vacation a little extra special. And right now, it's sitting at a table in a real Starbucks, drinking a green tea that's getting this day off to a good start.