Travel Tip – Don’t Freak Out at the Airport

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Please sit back while I tell you a tale of how you should never be like me at the airport. It is a tale of woe and heartbreak, a tale of curses mumbled under the breath and of total meltdowns in arrival terminals. It is my constant companion whenever I arrive at the airport – my own personal freak out.

Clearly Osaka Airport Hates Me

I’ve been to Osaka (Kansai) Airport three times now and every time it’s a complete gong show for me. No matter how much I prepare, it seems I can never get it right. The first time I arrived I spent my entire week’s spending budget on the taxi ride to our hotel because I couldn’t find the train station. This time things didn’t go much better.

Since this was our third run through, I figured I had everything down pat. I was cool as a cucumber as I approached the arrival passport check. How ignorant I was.

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While on the flight I like to fill in any landing documents so that I can breeze through the passport check. So I made sure to take care of that first. As an extra travel tip – always fly with a pen!

I suppose the ease of entering Ukraine and Poland on a trip we took in July made me a bit over confident. After all, we did’t even have to fill in any landing documents there. So when it came to the Japan declaration card, I got sloppy in filling out the information on where we would be staying. And as Jason Bourne says – Confident, cocky, dead.

As it turned out I was turned back at passport check to re-fill in where we were staying. The problem was I never wrote that down and there was absolutely no Internet connection for me to search on my phone for that informaion. I could feel the hot hand of panic starting to grip tightly around my heart.

After madly scrambling about and actually considering writing down some fake location to try to pass off on the passport security guard “What you’ve never heard of 123 Osaka Street? It’s a very famous place!”, I managed to find the address written in my travel book from when we visited four years ago.

So hurdle number one was jumped, but I wasn’t finished yet.

Ain’t Got No Money

Photo Credit: soma-samui.com

Photo Credit: soma-samui.com

After arriving in Osaka I always like to head to the ATM and take out some cash. But for some stupid reason I had brought my business debit card with me instead of my personal one. But no worries, Stacey had her personal card, so I grabbed that and headed to the ATM.

Did you know that your wife can have a different PIN number on her bank card even though you share an account? I didn’t figure that out till I had made her card invalid from trying to enter the wrong PIN number too many times :P

So now the hot grip of panic had turned into the big sweaty hug of panic.

But no worries I thought to myself. I still had a couple of hundred bucks in my business account so I decided to drain that and then I could transfer some money over using online banking. After all I still needed to buy some bus tickets and purchase some cell phone sim cards which alone was going to be close to the full amount of how much I withdrew.

Too bad our bank decided that it was a wonderful time to do some maintenance on its online banking system. Just great! So while I was waiting for that to complete, I decided to call the guy we are renting the apartment from to let him know that we had arrived and we would hopefully be on our way shortly.

Photo Credit: Sushicam

Photo Credit: Sushicam

But instead of paying for the call with a 100 yen coin, I decided it would be good to purchase a 1000 yen overseas calling card and try to use it unsuccessfully to make my local call. It didn’t work. Of course it didn’t work! I was already tight on cash and here I was spending money on useless calling cards?! (I have since put this calling card on our apartment’s mantelpiece to remind myself every day on how wonderful it is)

So after spending 1100 yen to make a 100 call, I managed to transfer some money into my business account. As I headed back to the ATM things were started to look up.

What’s that you say Jason Bourne?

My first attempt to withdraw $500 from the ATM was met with the message that I was over my daily withdrawal limit. OK…no problem I’ll just withdraw $250 instead. Can you imagine my delight when I was met with the message…

Your card is invalid.

Invalid?! INVALID! I have to live in Japan for the next month with two invalid debit cards? You know what? This whole stupid airport is invalid!

Hello panic my old friend.

Goodbye Bus

Photo Credit: Hyougushi

Photo Credit: Hyougushi

While all this fun was going on we missed our bus into the city. But no problem since a bus comes around every half hour or so right? Yeah it was that kind of day. I can only assume the bus driver required an extended dinner break because the next bus wouldn’t be around for another 2 1/2 hours!

In the end I consider it a blessing because I needed that extra time to recover from the stress stroke I was having. And we did have enough money to get to the apartment and even order a banquet of MacDonalds cheeseburgers to celebrate.

By the next day I was able to withdraw money from my business account, even though Stacey’s card was still invalid and gave me the cold sweats again. So I guess everything turned out good in the end.

Lessons Learned

If ths sobering tale has taught you anything, let it be this – don’t take anything for granted at the airport.

Airports can be stressful places that seem to inspire in us the need to rush around and get in a panic. So while your mind is telling you “Go! Go! Go!”, it’s best to slow down and give yourself some time to relax and think. Basically don’t be like me :)

Also, it pays to be prepared for what your plan is after landing and getting out of the airport. Chances are your going to be tired and stressed as it is, so make it easier on yourself and have a written plan you can refer to when your brain feels like jello.

Again, don’t be like me!

3 Responses to “Travel Tip – Don’t Freak Out at the Airport”

  1. Shani  on September 26th, 2015

    Oh my goodness!! Gave me a good laugh at your expense!!

  2. kinger  on October 4th, 2015

    Repeat after me. Hired driver prepaid waiting at airport. After a 10 hour flight overnight into Rome I was so wasted I would have never figured out where the train station was little alone how to buy a ticket all while hauling around huge pieces of luggage. Seeing that smiling man holding a sign with my name on it was so stress relieving and walking right out into a vehicle was worth every penny

  3. Travis  on November 6th, 2015

    You make a valid point Kinger. Airports are major chaos without adding in the extra bonus of a brain fried by jet lag.


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