How to Pivot When Traveling
Austin and I planned a trip to Morocco in November, the trip was to last 10 days with a short stay in Madrid at the tail end. The trip entailed flying direct into Casablanca, Morocco, driving to Marrakech then back to Casablanca to take a trip to Madrid. We then spent 2 nights in Madrid. The plan was (and paid for) to get a flight back to New York with a layover back in Casablanca because that's the only way it could have been planned.
However, the Universe had other plans for us. The short story is that we never made it on our flight back to Casablanca, resulting in missing our flight back to New York. This flight was Friday morning and when seeking to get on the next flight through the same airline, they had nothing else going out until Monday. While we really enjoyed Madrid, the thought of leaving that airport again, luggage in tow for another few days did not sound appealing.
A direct flight from Madrid to New York for the same day with another airline was over $2k a ticket.
We both have unlocked phones so the first thing we usually do is buy a local sim card so we always have service, without relying on free Wifi. I personally don't switch my sim back until I physically get back home. When we got the news we were "stuck" we quickly turned to our phones. The attendant at the airline quoted us for a trip back to New York on Monday for $568 per person.
That would mean we'd pay $568 then have to get another Airbnb. The Airbnb that we were staying at for the 2 days was $95 a night. So after $568, we'd have to pay roughly another $300 including cleaning fees and such. That brings our total to $1,436.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. We decided to make Lisbon-ade. We knew that Madrid was very close to Lisbon, Portugal. Shout out to geography. So we took a chance and checked our usual favorite apps to get some prices on flights. Luckily, regardless of the short notice, we were able to book a flight for a couple of hours later into Lisbon. The flight's cost $110 for a one way. While Austin booked and queued up the first flight I found a flight on my phone ready to book from Lisbon to New York for $353! That price alone for the flight was cheaper than staying in Madrid and we were going to be able to see another country.
It was important to do all of this as fast as possible because at any point flights can be sold out or go up in price. So we moved like the wind. But before we actually booked the flights we checked to see if we needed any tourist visas to enter the country (nope). The second thing we checked before confirming the flight was what the cost of our stay would look like. We were going to be booking an Airbnb only hours in advance so there was no telling what we would find.
We found an incredible Airbnb $58 a night in a cool part of Lisbon (who am I kidding, it's all cool). But the best part? We had a $150 credit for Airbnb from our beautiful friends as a wedding gift. Without the $150 credit, the cost of the trip, for 4 nights came out to $1,158.
So let us weigh the options :
$4,000 = Fly home, same day.
$1,436 = 3 nights in a city you've already seen
$1,1158 = 4 nights in a new country and city you've never been to.
All of those costs above are including both of our tickets.
The cost of living in Portugal is also cheaper than Spain so eating is cheaper in Lisbon. You can see how this was a no-brainer for us.
Right after we booked officially, I was on a Facebook Travel Blogger Group building an itinerary. There was so much to do in this little city of seven hills and we were eager to see it all. Here are a few photos from our Pivot to Portugal. Sometimes, the Universe has plans for you and you have to navigate through them to make it the best.