The Runaway Spanish Suitcase: A Christmas Family Travel Adventure (and on the Benefits of Planning Ahead…)

With my family scattered throughout various states and countries, the end of the year holidays are usually the only time we can all get together for a family reunion.  Because of our distance from each other, we usually choose to combine our reunion with a visit to somewhere special to celebrate the holidays and spend quality time with each other away from the hustle and bustle of our everyday surroundings.   This past Christmas, we embarked on a multigenerational reunion in Andalucian Spain– with extended family and friends all coming together for the first time in years.  It was truly an unforgettable vacation- a fantastic time to relax, unplug, and connect with each other in one of the most beautiful places I can think of to spend the holidays.  The family even “grew”- as a proposal was made and an engagement set during the trip!  A Christmas Eve champagne toast with family- including my new brother-in-law-to be, with a beautiful Mediterranean sunset as our backdrop, is a moment that will not be forgotten.  However, just a few hours earlier, the trip was looking decidedly less picturesque.

Andalucia Sunset

Sunset toast! 

To make a long story short(er):

My Suitcase (containing all my nicest clothes, toiletries, and Christmas presents) does not arrive with my flight in Madrid. Christmas is in two days.

Train tickets from Madrid to Andalucía (100 Euro each..) have already been purchased in advance.

Entire family planning on Christmas Eve gathering at our rental home in Andalucía.

Christmas Eve morning- Suitcase still not here.  Rest of my family goes ahead (to save 400 Euro on train tickets, secure rental car, etc.). Finally, after hours of waiting, SUITCASE ARRIVES AT HOTEL! Presents & all clothes intact! Excitement!  Rushing to make the next train from Madrid to Andalucía!

I Jump out of taxi, run into station to a buy ticket….


Taxi line at the Madrid Train Station-             Image via

I run outside….into a sea of identical white taxis.  Having of course not noted the taxi number, I am lost.  I wander aimlessly through the hundreds of taxis at the Madrid train station, hoping to somehow recognize my taxi driver.  Sure that the suitcase was lost forever, and a real damper put on the trip, I called my family (who had by now arrived in Andalucía) to let them know.  In desperation, I called the hotel where the taxi had picked me up….by some stroke of luck the taxi driver had not only realized quickly that my suitcase was in the trunk, but cared enough to call the hotel!  We arranged for him to take the suitcase back to me at the train station.   I got my suitcase, caught the last train down to Andalucía, and reunited with my family over delicious jamon Serrano and a glass of rioja on our outdoor balcony.  Disaster averted.

Andalucia Rioja

Reunited! (With Rioja!) 

The moral of the story (besides “don’t leave your suitcase in a taxi”)?  Make it as easy as possible for yourself. Murphy’s Law (“Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong”) is a pretty common tenant of travel- snafu’s of varying magnitudes tend to pop up on almost any trip. Here at Chill Expeditions, we like to take the “expedition mentality” and look at each of these hiccups as “obstacles or opportunities”.  However, planning ahead for your trip- and leaving the details in the hands of experienced planners & guides- will ensure that your trip is as smooth as possible, so you can relax and enjoy your vacation time stress-free. Guided Family Adventure Travel allows you to kick back and relax as your knowledgeable local guide takes care of all the logistics- so no suitcases get left behind. Planning your customized expedition early not only allows you to create the exact experience you want- with the best availability and rates- but it minimizes any unnecessary travel issues that inevitably pop up with last minute trip planning.  The end of the year holidays are peak travel season- for those considering a family trip, plan as early as possible (now!) to ensure that your time together is unforgettable- in a good way!

View from the balcony, Andalucia

View from our Balcony

– Audrey, CE Environmental Educator

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