If you follow my twitter account, you know that we got stranded at the Vienna airport this week when we flew in from Athens. How did that happen? Travel gone wrong, that’s how! Our bus from Orangeways that was supposed to come at 6:55pm didn’t come, and the schedule said that the bus was scheduled for 8:00pm instead. We waited outside for the buses both times (20 minutes ahead of time like the website said to do) and, no bus. Travis thought he might have seen an Orangeways bus at one point, but no bus ever pulled up terminal 3 where we were supposed to get picked up, even though we paid for tickets in advance. Our friends told us later that if they don’t see you standing there, they won’t even pull into the Terminal, so apparently they didn’t see Travis waiting with Kati and luggage while I kept Timo and Ksena inside and out of the 4 degree (Celsius) weather.
So, what were we to do? We could get a hotel and wait for the next bus that was supposed to come at 12pm the next day, but we didn’t know if they would make us pay again, or what. Meanwhile, our dear friend Arpi, back in Hungary, called everyone he could think of in Vienna that might be able to help out, and there were people out of town, and various other things including a lot of people didn’t have snow tires (In Austria you have to have snow tires on starting December 1st… the day we landed… or else there is a steep fine to pay). There was no place for us to stay, so Arpi got in his car, with freshly put on snow tires, and drove for two and half hours to pick us up.
Let me just pause for a second to say, “Thank you Arpi!! You are truly a blessing!!”
So what did we do with three sleepy children for two and half hours while we waited in the airport? We got creative!! When you find yourself in sticky situations, you have to do whatever you can to minimize the stress on your children. Ksena could tell I was upset and started crying. So we stopped what we were doing, prayed, and assured her that no matter what, Daddy was going to figure out a place for we could sleep for the night. She was very tired and kept mentioning that there had to be a place for us to sleep. Kati was definitely past the point of being able to controlling herself and I knew if I could just get her to hold still that she would fall asleep. Timotheos is a pretty easy going baby, and he was just hanging out in the baby carrier. So, we found a Mc Cafe inside the airport that is open 24 hours, put Kati in Timo’s carseat with her penguin, and let Ksena fall asleep in a comfortable chair. The result was that they slept until Arpi got there at midnight and then went right back to sleep once we got in the car. We didn’t arrive in Vajta until 3:00am but man, it was so nice to lay down in our beds once we got everything inside and everyone in pajamas.
Sometimes you can have the best plans spread out in front of you, but the reality is that things like this happen while you are traveling. Here is a list of what to do when things go wrong, and hopefully you have an amazing friend like we do that can help out in some way.
–Don’t panic! If you do feel the need to panic because your emotions are running high, try to limit your panic to a few minutes, and don’t let your kids see you. If they see you panicking, they will panic, because as the adult, you are in control of the situation. Kids trust you to take care of everything because that is your job as their parent.
-Keep and get as much information as you can. We called the Orangeways station in Budapest, but they were already closed for the day, so we couldn’t get ahold of them. Travis found someone inside who spoke English (we don’t speak one word of German), and asked them about the bus schedules, since they apparently changed from the time we left Greece and landed in Austria. Once we figured out that there were no more buses from Vienna to Budapest (where there were lovely friends waiting to pick us up), we had to figure out something else. Luckily we had all of our contacts freshly imputed into our cell phone. Once you have information, you can better asses your options.
-Have a back up plan! We had numbers and addresses of two different hostels to stay in case something like this happened. But since it was getting so late, our kids were exhausted, and there was someone willing to come pick us up, we decided just to come straight to our destination. We also had looked ahead of time to figure out the stops and costs of taking public transportation to either one of the hostels.
-Address basic needs! If your children are sleepy, find a temporary place for them to sleep if you need to. If they are hungry find them something to eat. If you can address the most basic needs like, rest, shelter from bad weather, food, water, and a place to go potty, these kind of situations will be much less stressful for your children.
-Focus on the finish line. If you think about your current situation, you might feel hopeless. If you keep in mind that you are trying to get your family somewhere, and if you focus on doing that instead, your attitude will be much better.
Hope you never encounter problems of this type while traveling, but if you do, I hope this list helps.
P.S. At this point we still have not heard back from Orangeways, the Hungarian bus line, even though we have attempted to make contact in various ways, there has been no response.