The Best Travel Mistake

It may have not been the best mistake ever but it still worked out pretty well. 

When we booked travel to spend the holidays in Myrtle Beach, we were set to return to Spokane on Dec. 31…or so we thought. Our understanding was that we would leave South Carolina on New Year’s Eve at 2:30 p.m. and land in Washington around 10 p.m. in time to watch the ball drop. The itinerary called for a couple of short layovers in Charlotte and Dallas, par for the course when you are traveling commercial across the country.

A look outside our window as we flew from Charlotte to Dallas.

It wasn’t until the beginning of December that we noticed a slight mistake. Yes, we were scheduled to leave Myrtle Beach on Dec. 31 at 2:30 p.m. And, yes, we were still scheduled to land in Spokane at 10 p.m. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for 10 p.m. on Dec. 31…it was for Jan. 1.

Upon closer look at our itinerary, the a.m’s and p.m’s weren’t what we thought. Instead of landing in Charlotte at 3:30 p.m. and departing at 5:45 p.m., we were actually departing Charlotte at 5:45 a.m…the next day. Instead of landing in Dallas at 7 p.m. on Dec. 31, we were landing in Dallas at 7 a.m. on Jan. 1. And, instead of departing Dallas at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 31, we were departing Dallas at 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 1. Yikes.

We tried to contact American Airlines and change our itinerary. They couldn’t help. We decided that we would take matters into our own hands and just drive to Charlotte early on Jan. 1 to catch our 5:45 a.m. flight. This would let us spend a little more time with family and avoid spending the night in Charlotte. Not so fast. American Airlines was going to count this as a change of reservation and charge us $700…per person.

Needless to say, we were stuck with our 30-hour itinerary. With no option to tweak it unless we wanted to shell out more than a couple grand, we decided we would make the best of it.

We decided that we would make the best of our 30-hour itinerary.

Our plan for the Charlotte leg of the trip was to get some dinner and spend the night. We landed in the Charlotte airport on New Year’s Eve, gathered our luggage (we had to pick up our checked luggage because we were going more than 12 hours between flights), and then rented a car. Because of our early flight the next morning and our heavy luggage haul, we didn’t want to depend on shuttles or an Uber.

After stopping at a grocery store, we checked into our hotel. It was the Charlotte Hampton airport hotel but our kids seemed to think it was a Disney resort. They loved the change of scenery and chance to stay in a room with a refrigerator, two beds, and microwave.

A photo of us going up the elevator at our Charlotte hotel.

We left our room for a drive around Charlotte and to pick up some fast food. We then returned to the hotel and watched NYE coverage and ate our dinner in bed.

Sloan and Beau in the hotel room watching “Sing.”

Sid and I were up early on New Year’s Day to get the car packed and the kids dressed. We made the short drive to the Charlotte airport and we were soon on a plane to Dallas. Once we landed we picked up our rental car and drove off to enjoy an adventure in a city we had never visited before.

Sloan standing next to an inflatable Dallas Cowboys helmet at the rental car center in Dallas.

We only had about nine hours so we had to stick to a tight schedule. We headed to the Dallas Zoo, one of the best of its kind in the country. Because it was the slow season for the zoo, we only paid $8 per person for tickets. For far less than what it costs to go to the movies, we were able to admire some of the most magnificent animals on the planet.

Sloan and Beau at the entrance to the Dallas Zoo. We had a great time!

After the zoo we did something that Sid and I always do if the city that we are in has one—we ate at the Cheesecake Factory! Surprisingly, we got a table right away and enjoyed a delicious lunch. Our cheesecake of choice this time was S’mores Galore. So good!

Our Cheesecake Factory experience in Dallas was delicious.

At this point our time in Dallas was starting to dwindle but we managed to squeeze in a trip to a park. With just hours before we returned to snow and freezing temperatures, how couldn’t we take advantage of the 70-degree day? We visited Flag Pole Park, a beautiful green area that recently had a new playground built by the Jordan Spieth Foundation. An all-inclusive play area dominated by cargo net structures, both Sloan and Beau enjoyed a unique experience while meeting many new “friends.”

Sloan hanging out at Flag Pole Park in Dallas.

Once we finished playing at the park we started to make our way back to the airport. On the way, I ventured into my first ever Five Below store and Sidney walked into the largest Target she had ever been in. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare and with some new experiences under our belts.

Our travel adventure would not have been complete without a delay at the Dallas Airport. The kids passed the time by eating ice cream on the floor at our gate.

As Sidney and I evaluated the whirlwind extension of our vacation, we agreed that it didn’t turn out so bad. In fact, Sid even suggested we do something similar (on purpose) when booking our next trip to visit family in Myrtle Beach. I don’t know if we will go that far, but after what was a stressful time trying to rectify our mistake, everything ended up turning out great. Don’t Blink.

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