Friday, August 10, 2012

Travel Packages: ALWAYS read the fine print.

When planning for vacations, I've learned from past experience to research travel packages carefully prior to writing the check and showing up at the airport.  In hindsight it seems logical; however, 19 year olds are impulsive when it comes to using their common sense.  I was certainly no different at this age.  When I noticed the 10-Day Hawaiian vacation package in my community college flyer my first thoughts were, "Hey, I can afford this!" and "Maybe my friend Sarah* would like to go too!"

It never occurred to this young adult to read the fine print below the tour description.  And seriously, why would I waste two hours of my Monday night attending the tour orientation?  All I needed was a couple of registration forms, the final fee amount, and the mailing address.  The hotels sounded lovely, the tours and stops were going to be amazing, and everything was within our price range.  There was no stopping us from going.  How exciting.  Oh, and I forgot to mention dear friends and blog readers, at the time - the legal drinking age in Hawaii was 18.  Sarah and I were going to have the time of our lives.

Fast forward to the morning of our flight.  We arrived with great anticipation to the LAX departure gate looking for a group of college kids but instead were met with 30 or so retired folks and one of their 13 year old grand daughters.  Apparently the fine print under the tour description - which I didn't take time to read - indicated that the tour was for senior citizens.  Awkward! 

As with everything Breezy and Sarah did at 19 years of age, we took it on the chin and laughed hysterically.  Seriously, what else could be done at this point?  The trip had been paid for.  The Grandmas and Grandpas were boarding the plane.  Our  travel host seemed just as surprised as we were and mildly (to put it gently) worried that she may have two somewhat wild young ladies on her otherwise calm tour experience.

Off we went; Hawaiian Airlines from Los Angeles International Airport direct to Honolulu, Hawaii.  Nothing could be more exciting for the two of us.  Yes, Sarah and I travelled together before but we had chaperons.  In a way, one could assume we had over 30 pairs of eyes keeping a watch over us but in all honesty, we were on our own.  God help the Hawaiian Islands.

Sarah and I were as naughty as the tour leader feared we would be.  During the day, we travelled on the bus with the rest of the group listening intently to the history of the islands; however, the evenings belonged to us.  The first day we arrived, we connected with the tour bus driver who - despite his advanced years - introduced us to the local hangouts as well to his apartment, his pot plants, his fine wines, and his penchant for giving amazing hickeys.  The next morning, as Sarah and I were coming up from the beach, we met with a couple of nice ladies from our tour returning from breakfast.  Both of us were in our bathing suits and by this time it was widely known who we were out with the night before.  In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if the tour leader hadn't threatened him with his job if he didn't stay away from us going forward. 

Sarah, always being sweet and talkative, completely forgot her neck and chest were covered with "love bites".  One of the ladies, who couldn't take her eyes off of Sarah's horrifying bruises, asked if we had a nice time the night before.  Sarah, being Sarah, snorted while laughing at the same time,

"Oh my gosh, we had such a great time!!!  John* showed us all over the city and we had dinner.  It was faaaabulous!!"

While Sarah was ranting and raving, I was trying to catch her eye by popping my own orbs out of my head but she was on a roll.  She continued about what a terrific time we had and what a gentleman (yeah, right) John was.  The ladies eventually stepped off the elevator to their floor.  I was speechless and horrified.  "What's wrong, Bri?"  I told her.  Sarah started crying.  She was mortified.  Yep, that was embarrassing.

The last night was our grand finale; la dolce vita.  We managed to get all of our dear senior friends on the dance floor with us.  No one remained in their chairs.  No matter what their physical ailment was, the zest Sarah I contained for life was contagious.  We shimmied, giggled, and laughed with these folks until they could literally stand no longer.  We made their trip one to remember and I'm certain when they went to bed that night, for a few moments anyway, they shook their heads in wonderment. "How could two young girls manage to turn a 10-day senior citizen's tour so absolutely crazy, silly wild?" 

After our tour group headed back to the hotel, and despite the fact that Sarah and I hadn't packed yet for our 6:00am departure the next morning, we didn't return to our room that night.  We stayed and celebrated the joy of the evening.  I walked along the beach with the drummer of the band between sets and later with a nice guy named Alan from St. Louis.  It's interesting what our memory retains so many years later.  When I had left my friend Sarah, she was walking down the beach with one military fellow and after I returned with my friend from back east, I heard her laughter resonating from the pool area.  There was Sarah; fully dressed in the jacuzzi with two Scandinavian men in nothing but their underwear.  All I could do was laugh. 

We did eventually get back to our hotel - with only 15 minutes to spare.  My friend's hair was still soaking wet when we boarded the bus for the airport.  By the time we landed at LAX, we were hungover, hadn't slept or eaten real food in over 48 hours, and looked like death.  Our parents were shocked at our appearance.  Now that I think about it, that's the last time Sarah and I ever travelled alone together.

I believe it's time for another chick trip.  What do you think?  Those were good times, my friend.  Good times.

*Names have been changed for privacy purposes.