Sharing my hotel room with two strangers from New Zealand may be the most memorable part of my trip to Chile. Let me explain.
I was scheduled to check out and leave Valparaiso before catching a flight to Bolivia the following day. I considered spending an extra day in “Valpo” but thought I’d seen all I needed to and wasn’t so awed by the place I thought an extra day was needed. I also wasn’t keep on getting up super early or rushing to make sure I caught my noon flight.
So I decided to head back to Santiago and as well, stay at a hotel near the airport. There is actually a hotel literally across the parking lot from the airport terminal. A Holiday Inn as it was.
Holiday Inn is a member of International Hotel Group (IHG) which means you can use IHG points. I don’t have a lot of them, but I have some. A normal rate would have cost me a little over $170 with tax.
Instead I redeemed the room for 10,000 points and $70 in cash. Saving me more than $100. I’l take it.
When I checked in there was a couple from New Zealand who were supposed to leave yesterday but had a delayed flight from another part of Chile. They were in the area where the volcano activity is taking place, which screwed up their original plans to get into Santiago. That meant they missed their first flight and had to leave a day later. It was the final day before taking the nearly 13 hour flight home.
As I checked in I overheard them asking the desk about some different options. It was about 3pm and they had a midnight flight. They asked paying for a few hours for a room or what any type of partial day rate was. The hotel said that wasn’t an option and they only had rooms for the full night’t stay, at roughly $170. The couple realized that was a tough expense to justify for just a few hours so they began to leave.
I stopped them before they walked away and said I was checking in and that they could use my room for a few hours. They both gave me a bit of a, “Seriously? look and exchanged glances with each other, and when I persisted they said yes and offered to pay me something.
“Nah, I’m using points my man,” I said. “Let’s just do a high five and make it even.” I proceeded to high five my new friend from New Zealand Chris, and upon finishing the high five with his wife Amy, the transaction was complete.
We sat in the lounge for a bit before Chris and Amy went upstairs to my room to drop off their bags and take time time for a shower/nap. They came down a bit later and I took a shower. When I came back Chris and Amy offered to buy me dinner at the hotel restaurant and not wanting to deprive them of their ability to provide a friendly gesture back, I happily accepted.
As I do with everyone I meet in another country I asked them about their opinions on the United States and our people, culture and government. We had a great talk and exchanged email addresses before I wished them well on their flight back home.
Remember, whether you’re traveling across the state, across the country or across the world, there is no shortage of new things you can experience or new people you can meet. I could have very easily disregarded what I heard Chris and Amy say as they asked about a room for a few hours so they didn’t have to spend the next eight sitting in the airport.
But instead I thought quick and realized not only would it be a good way to help them, but it would make an excellent story to look back on. Traveling isn’t just about pictures and food and visiting old churches. Small instances and opportunities like this one are what will make my year of traveling the world truly something I’ll remember.
And Chris and Amy could have very easily disregarded my offer as something weird or out of place or unbelievable. But instead each of us decided, “Hey, why not?” And now we all have a great story to share and a great memory to look back on as a travel experience from Chile. Remember, you always have the opportunity to create new and exciting adventures for yourself. The next time you have the opportunity, take advantage of it.
Have you ever had an opportunity like this that you did or didn’t take? Had you been either me or Chris and Amy, what do you think you would have done?