While mankind’s propensity to plan travels is nothing new, the methods are ever-changing. Gone are the days of hiring a trusty squire, loading up covered wagons, and going to the travel agency to buy paper plane tickets: with the advent of the internet, planning trips has become as easy as clicking a mouse. The technological revolution has made it possible for people to plan round the world trips from the comfort of their living room…
… something I was extremely grateful for when I first got the news that my younger brother is getting married in New York this fall.
What does the internet revolution have to do with my brother’s wedding? Plenty – I live in Italy, which means getting myself across the ocean to see my brother marry the girl of his dreams (and mine; he couldn’t have picked me a better sister if he tried). But it also means a great deal to my extended family, all of whom live in Guatemala or Italy, like me. It’ll actually be a good showing from the Guatemalan side of the family – 15 chapines whooping it up in New York City until dawn – but the people willing to make the trek from Italy are far fewer: myself, my uncle, and an elderly family friend. As the only seasoned traveler in our trio – and the only one who speaks English – I have been charged with the task of getting these two men across the Atlantic Ocean. With the beauty and ease of the internet, it should be easy as pizza pie, right?
How do you get two elderly Italian men across the Atlantic Ocean? Read on….
1. Make a plan to meet them at their homes to plan the trip together. Meet them early in the morning. When they ask you when you’re going to the travel agency, tell them that you’re not going to a travel agency because you can do it all online. Witness their blank stares. But how do we get the tickets? How do we pay? How do we choose the seats? You can do that all from here? Show them the travel website. Show them the ESTA website. Show them the wedding registry. Discover that they don’t know what dates they want to come. Discover, too, that they don’t have passports or credit cards.
2. Instruct them to get passports and credit cards and figure out what dates they want to come. Yes, yes, says Marco. We’ll do that. Uncle Franco will be quick to point out that he made the request for his passport a while ago but has yet to pick it up. Tell them that you’ll call them in a week to see how the plans are going. Yes, yes, they say. We’ll call you in a week.
3. Call them to ask how the plans are going because nine days have gone by and they haven’t called you. Yes, yes, says Marco. I think I’ll come with my wife, but I’m not sure because she might have something to do. Uncle Franco says he wants to go from the 26th to the 6th. Marco says, I’ll let you know when I decide what dates I want to come. Ask them, Did you get pick up your passports? The answer is no.
4. Remember that in Italy,when you ask someone to get back to you by the end of the week, it is necessary to specify WHICH WEEK OF WHICH MONTH OF WHICH YEAR.
5. Call them again, ten days later, to check on the plans. Ah, says Marco. I meant to call you but then I didn’t. So I’ll definitely be coming with someone, but I don’t know who. No, I don’t have my passport. I have my credit card, though. Ask Uncle Franco how he’s doing. Uncle Franco says: I have my passport, but I don’t have a credit card.
6. Remind them that the longer they take to make a decision, the more expensive tickets become. That’s something else I wanted to ask you, says Marco. What happens if I buy a ticket and then my wife’s 90 year-old mother gets sick and I can’t go? I say, You lose the money. Marco says, Ah. Well, I’ll definitely be coming with someone but I don’t know who. And I’m not sure when I’m coming yet. You tell them, I’ll call you again in a few days to see how things are going. Remember: credit card, passport, dates. Uncle Franco and Marco both say, Yes.
7. Call them to ask how the plans are going. Did you get your credit card? you ask Uncle Franco. No, he says. You ask Marco, Do you have your passport? He says, No. And then Marco asks you, So I had a question about the credit card. You say, Shoot. He says, I have a two thousand euro limit, right? If I use some of that to pay for plane tickets, I spend money. If you can tell me about how much two plane tickets to New York cost, I can decide if I want to pay with my credit card or not. You say: You need to pay with a credit card online.
Yes, says Marco. But I have a two thousand euro limit. Maybe it’s not enough money to cover two plane tickets to New York.
It is, you tell him.
Uncle Franco says: Maybe while we’re waiting for Marco to get his passport, I can go pick up the plane tickets.
There are no plane tickets, you say. We haven’t done anything yet. You need to have a credit card and possibly your passport to buy a plane ticket online, and you’ll need your passport to apply for the ESTA. And when we do buy the tickets, we just print them out at home. But you need your credit card to do that. Uncle Franco, did you go to the bank to get your credit card?
No. I’ll do that this week.
8. Call them to see if they’ve chosen the dates, gotten their passports, and gotten their credit cards. No to all of those questions.
9. Call it a day. Old Italian men: 1, Travel technology: 0.
10. Abandon the internet and decide to take the two old Italian men to a travel agency.
What do you think, tripwolves – when it comes to travel, are the old ways best?