It was a long look into the mirror of self-reflection when I noticed flaws. It began with some time of morning gratitude–my parents who loved, trained, groomed, strengthened me; my three husbands who loved me mightily for as along as they could; my two children who, out of duty or obligation or shear curiosity stand by to watch what I will do next. Next my clients.
Now my mind wanders and the meditation rivers to a still pool–where I face the reflection. The mind bounces from one traveler to the next–the years of designing trips for people I did not know then, but came to know quite well over the months of conversation and planning. I get to know the family, and their many illks–“must have” and “absolutely must not have.” When things go smoothly, all is well. When things go amuck, well…all is not well. Of course I blame myself–always, as I am the Perfect Travel Agent.
Back to the mediation. Gratitude for all the clients equally. Most of my travelers are deliriously happy with their trip, sending photos, and words of praise. These clients remind me of what a Perfect Travel Agent I am, my ego is bursting and I say with confidence that indeed, “I am Travel Agent Extraordinaire!” No lessons learned, because I know it all. It is the less satisfied clients from whom I learn the most. However, the real test of a great travel agent is how she manages the difficult task of traveling herself. And so it was these last two weeks in Paris.
PARIS: My trip, my design, my execution. Two simple weeks in Paris, one apartment — simple, and what could go wrong?
- Blistering heat and humidity
- Apartment with AC unit ill-equipped to cool in this heat
- 18th arrondissment–very hilly part of Paris–nearly 200 steps just to exit the metro
- Lost is Paris–every day. Walking first in one direction, then in the other. Hot, sweaty, sore feet
- Eiffel Tower dinner reservations–not possible (not even for lunch)
- Eiffel Tower tour guide abandons us–no refund, no rescheduling!
- Long touring days of walking, climbing, and looking for places we just can find
- Incredible crowds
- Attempted a train excursion to Chantilly–disaster and eventually aborted the plan
- Used up metro tickets like crazy
- After the heat wave, came the cold rain
Where is the Perfect Travel Agent? How could this be my perfect two weeks in Paris? Who designed this trip? Ego steps aside and I return to a moment of gratitude– grateful to put myself in the shoes of my travelers. Traveling is fun, but it is not easy. Certainly there are endless unknowns, endless pebbles in the road, endless obstacles to overcome–and I remind myself that traveling is an education and almost never a vacation.
As often as I say that I can deliver the perfect trip, I realize that I can not. I am not superwoman, and cannot “save the day.” As much as I want to please, I can now say with reluctant confidence that
I am the Nearly Perfect Travel Agent.