I should have guessed this trip was doomed from the very start by the way things were unfolding… Much like haste makes waste I kind of did it again. So, in "haste makes waste" post I mentioned I was meant to go to Florida for a conference and the US embassy had made it rather complicated and stressful for me, well now it had all settled, or so it seemed like, and I had finally sent my passport to them and was waiting for my Visa to get approved and be sent to me, but because the embassy page said (and I mistook it for assurance) that the Visa will be processed in just 2 working days, I thought I should receive it in no time and went ahead with my flight bookings to Orlando without a thought that what if, just WHAT IF the embassy does what it knows best and screws it up for me? What if it takes lot longer? what's more, they NEVER have a contact number to call and enquire in.
The conference was in the place I had always wanted to visit - Disneyland, Lake Buena Vista, for 5 whole days… Uff! 5 days of sun, beach and disney… What more could I ask for??? I booked a flight to Orlando, taking off in 12 days from the time I sent my passport for approval. I wanted something cheap as my budget was low. On top of that I was planning to go for a small trip with my friend all accommodated within the budget. The plan was to get to Orlando, stay there for a few days for the conference while chilling at Disney, fly to Dallas, have some Texan sun, then fly to Philadelphia, shop around, visit the big apple, go to the statue of Liberty and then fly back from NY. Sounds like an excellent plan right? So, I looked and searched and looked and found some amazing websites like:
1. opodo.co.uk and opodo.com - one is british and another one is european, sometimes the european one is cheaper, sometimes the otherwise.
2. expedia.co.uk - a lot of you must have already used this website to book flights, hotels, package deals, and holidays. Yes, this website is quite amazing.
3. airfasttickets.co.uk - a tele-booking website with great prices too. You can also chat online and get your booking done.
4. ebooker.com - surprisingly the best one so far. I was looking for multi city option too since I wanted to return from another city… So, in this website there were flights from London - Orlando and New York - London with a gap of 10 days for just £461.54 even when I was so close to the date (5-6days from date of departure). Of course there were layovers and stops in between the flights but they weren't too long, about 2 hours at the most. So I went ahead and booked it.
5. For hotel reservations, again expedia was excellent but my friend introduced me to something even better… hotwire.com. Hotwire finds you the cheapest rooms in the best hotels for prices wayyyyyyyy beyond belief. Like 5 nights in Lake Buena Vista (disney) resort hotel for just one £100. CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE IT???? Yup, it's that sweet. BUT since the prices are that low, they never reveal which hotel you will get till you book/pay. Well, nothing to worry, they do give you the hotels in the area YOU want to live in, and the hotels are all 2-5 star rated. So, they are actually quite good. This is something you MUST note for future reference!
Then came booking for the interstate trips… I used southwest and US airways as they are quite reasonable, and southwest is one of those airlines that allow you to carry a hand baggage free of charge, unlike every other airlines in the States where you have to pay a minimum of $25.
So in total I spent a little above £600. But now, I am left with no passport, no visa and no money. Trip has to be cancelled and I am pulling my hair making ends meet. This has been a devastating experience if you love travelling and are not too wealthy either. To afford this trip is a big deal in itself as I am still a student. All the hopes of getting to States for the very first time has been trampled by one single stamp of approval that has failed to come to me on time… And these are the kind of little things that I or an individual on the same side as me has zero control of. This is not the first time I have been disappointed in a much anticipated journey where I wasn't to be blamed or had no control over…
What next? Snakes on plane? Well, I guess I'll just have to take another chance to know… There is the whole big world waiting for me to experience more "lessons"…
Ok, so I finally did get my visa, and did travel to US. My passport as well as my birth certificate (which was lost in the embassy itself) arrived on the 21st of May, just a day before the last day of the conference and my presentation. After that there was no thinking I booked my flight and came to States.
Follow the rest of the story here.
All's well that ends well :)