Several months ago, Sunshine and I went on another one of our mommy & me trips, this time to Mexico. We had a fabulous time, however our return home was a bit of an adventure…and not the good kind!
My five year old daughter and I were stranded in a foreign airport!
We were scheduled to return home to North Carolina on Saturday, but we had a connecting flight in Houston. Unfortunately, Hurricane Harvey decided to make landfall and the airline decided to cancel all flights going into Houston.
We were casually informed by the airline representative that the next available flight would be on Wednesday…three days away!
This particular airline refused to provide any food or hotel vouchers…or any accommodations for displaced travelers. (Needless to say, I will not be flying them again!!)
So, my 5-year-old daughter and I, were stranded in the Mexican airport.
But I had no intention of remaining in Mexico for three additional days! We had a life to get back to in North Carolina and Sunshine had a meet-the-teacher event at her new kindergarten.
We had to get home before Wednesday!
Here’s how we survived being stranded in a foreign airport for 36 hours:
Now, although no one plans to be stranded in a foreign country (or on an island that should have taken a 3-hour tour), but when traveling anything can happen.
So, you must be prepared for the possibility.
What Not To Wear
I can’t tell you how many fashionably dressed women I saw wearing a sundress dress and killer heels. Or cute shorts, a sexy tank top and wedges.
If you get stuck in a foreign airport that cute outfit is not going to help you. In fact, the case of hypothermia you experience will likely be attributed to your poor choice in travel attire (albeit fashionable).
Trust me, after 36 hours in the Mexican airport I witnessed many ladies that were visibly miserable because they were cold and their feet hurt!
Airports are typically very cold, but in the hustle and bustle of moving to get to your gate and ultimately on the plane you may not notice just how cold it is.
You definitely notice the drop in temperature when you have no place to go in the airport and you are just waiting for time to pass.
Many stranded travelers decided to sleep outside on the pavement in front of the airport because it was warmer under the Mexican moonlight than inside the airport!
What should you wear….
Travel in jeans or sweatpants, something that will cover your legs and keep them warm. Also, wear sensible shoes. If you have to traipse around the airport going from one terminal to the next, wearing heels or wedges will only cause your feet to cry out in agony.
At least in sensible shoes you can focus on getting home and not how much pain you are in.
If you are lucky enough to have access to your suitcase then getting clothes to keep you warm may not be an issue. But if your bags are already checked you are going to wish you took my advice.
What to put in your carry-on bag
My daughter and I both had carry-on bags. There were critical items in both bags that helped to make our 36-hour stay bearable.
I was so grateful that we had those things because she was able to sleep comfortably in one of the airport restaurants with her blanket and sweater. Before falling asleep she was able to watch the movie Minions and Moana which I downloaded from Netflix before the trip.
I had an external battery pack, a sweater and my Kindle. The battery pack was a lifesaver. Traveling with an external battery pack is a must. Just make sure it is fully charged! Then you don’t have to worry about finding a power source in an airport with hundreds of other stranded travelers wanting to charge their phone.
My Kindle was also great to have because I was able to read two books I downloaded thanks to Amazon Kindle Unlimited. Any avid reader should be a member, Join Amazon Kindle Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial.
When planning your trip…
Before traveling anywhere, check with your cell phone carrier to learn what options you have for international calling and data services.
Cell phone service:
Many hotels offer free wifi services for guests to make calls while on the hotel premises. However, once you leave the hotel you need to know what your cell phone carrier charges for international calls.
I didn’t do this before I left North Carolina. Only after getting stranded in the airport did I contact my cell phone carrier and inquire on the international rates, because I had no (economical) way of communicating with family to let them know we were safe but stranded.
So know your plan options…mine was very very reasonable!!
Another alternative is signing up for WhatsApp..which allows users to make (sometimes) free international calls and text messages. Get the details before you travel!
I never buy travel insurance. When the AA travel agent offered details on the coverage and cost, I ignored her. I later found out that it cost less than $100 for travel protection per passenger. The $200 would have been well worth it.
After 36 hours in the Mexican airport, I purchased buddy passes from a dear friend for another airline and we made it home to North Carolina. Had I purchased the travel insurance I would have been reimbursed the $400 for the buddy passes.
OH well…you live and you learn!
Don’t be unprepared if ever you are stranded in an international airport.