Posted by: marykfurness | November 4, 2011

Opportunity called….and I Hung Up; Biggest Travel Mistake Ever Made

Here we are, day 4 of the Bootsnall 30 days of indie travel blogging, and today we talk about travel mistakes.  Now I’ve made my share in my time–for the specific things I forgot to put on the packing list, or the bad things I ate in Cairo, meet me in person and buy me an adult beverage–however, for the really awful thing I did, read on.

I didn’t take an expenses-paid trip with my dad. What was I thinking?

I was a college freshman, half a continent away from home, at a small liberal-arts college.  My grades were pretty good for my first year in that brand-new world, but finals were coming up, and I was rather nervous.  Out of that (yet again) clear blue sky, my dad (who, for those who haven’t followed this blog, was Bulgarian) calls me, and asks me if I want to go to Bulgaria with him in a few weeks–as in 3 weeks away from finals, to be gone during finals! Turns out an old friend of his (Bulgarian) in this country had died awhile back, he was assisting in the execution of the will, and had to take the cremains back to Bulgaria for interment–the estate would pay his expenses, and he would pay mine.  “Daaad!’ I wailed. “I have finals, I can’t possibly go; can’t you schedule it another time?”  But no, he couldn’t.  I hung up the phone and cried; I could have seen my two aunts who were still living, various cousins, and the beauty that was, and still is, Bulgaria.

Days later I was leaving my Humanities class and bemoaning my fate to several friends, some of whom had spent time overseas.  My professor overheard and startled me by saying, “Mary, I wish I’d known; we could’ve arranged for you to turn that into an independent study project. Plus, you could have come back and taken your finals late before summer school started–we’ll work with students when chances like that come up.”

Who knew? I was doubly devastated. Had I blown forever the chance to go back and see the Bulgarian side of my family–people I hadn’t seen since I was 13?  I vowed to never, ever hang up when opportunity called again, and I haven’t.

In fall of 1986, drowning in an awful job situation, a call came again–this time from my mom; did I want to be her travel partner on a trip to England and Egypt to see “Aida” at the Temple of Luxor? I walked away from that job in spring of ’87, took a chance, took a trip, and it changed my life.  In fall of 1989, Mom saw Dad and I off on that long-sought trip to Bulgaria and Greece; as pure luck would have it, we happened to be there when the Berlin Wall came down and the Bulgarian Parliament disbanded–again, a life-changing event.

GO!  Go now…go tomorrow…go next month….go next year.  By yourself, with a friend, with your family, with a grandparent.  But don’t hang up when opportunity calls–it won’t always call again.



  1. […] Mary K Furness […]

  2. Mary what a fantastic post, and such a valuable lesson. Enjoyed every word! Brava..
    ciao lisa

  3. “GO! Go now…go tomorrow…go next month….go next year. By yourself, with a friend, with your family, with a grandparent. But don’t hang up when opportunity calls–it won’t always call again.” Such inspiring words!

    • Thanks everyone, for the great comments! I’m enjoying reading them all, and enjoying the 30 days of indie travel blogging so much!

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