Its not always tulips and daisies… roadside misadventures in Europe!
If you’ve followed my blog for a little while, you may think every trip is tiptoeing through the daisies and my trips are flawless. You would be wrong ~ my tagline is “It’s always an adventure!” for a reason. This past week, my roadside troubles threw me for a loop and I need to share my tale to help you on your travels. I was not prepared for the “perfect storm” of this misadventure on a Sunday night during a national HOLIDAY weekend in Germany.
I was so thrilled to be visiting the lovely Keukenhof Tulip gardens of Holland with a group of travelers. Excited to see all the colors of the Netherlands, see old friends and enjoy great culture. If you are like me you probably day dream about your next trip, adventure or vacation coming up. You sit and while away the hours thinking you are Frances from “Under the Tuscan Sun” or maybe you are Owen Wilson discovering the streets of Paris in “Midnight in Paris.”
However, let’s face it, life happens. It just does, not everything is a movie scene or jolly old time. I have learned to make the most of these “hiccups” and embrace the adventure.
The beginnings of a great story
After driving three hours in our rental van from the Netherlands to Germany we arrived about 30 minutes from Weisbaden when the radiator hot water light came on and a “STOP” vehicle light was flashing with an alarm – true to form from my German friends, the message read, “MOTOR KANN ZERSTORERT WERDEN” which literally translated, motor can possibly be destroyed. Not at all a laughing matter, we pulled into the very next rest/gas station which was 5 km away, grateful to have one so close.
Here was my plan for a “Roadside Emergency.” Let me know your thoughts and ideas of how I could improve my plan, I would appreciate any tips and secrets you may use to help you when everything when you’ve prepared for roadside trouble?
Before you leave
- Have Emergency phone numbers for INSURANCE COMPANIES, CAR RENTAL
- Have enough safety vests for every passenger (in Austria, Czech Republic)
- Warning Triangles
- Charged phones (cords, extra portable charges)
- Water, bottled waters
- Small fleece blankets
- Traveling with children (deck of cards, dice, small snacks, etc.)
- Build in €200-300 in budget for ut-oh’s
- **Lots of patience (during the wait)
Once I made sure my travelers were safe and out of harm’s way I began working my safety plan.
What’s your Plan?
7:49 p.m. Call my loved ones – called back home to give my loved ones an update
7:50 p.m. Call Car Rental company – the rental contract had a 0800 number for Germany but there was no answer we tried ten different times beginning at 7 p.m.
7:52 p.m. Call ADAC – I am an ADAC Plus customer and knew to press #1 for Germany and #1 for incident in Germany, the first of fourteen calls for the day (I was hung-up on three times) once I was able to reach a person I spoke in German and they told me someone would be calling within the hour to check my car. The 22 22 22 number wasn’t working, but finally the 0 180 2 22 22 22 number I was able to reach someone, but it cost .70€/minute
8:00 p.m. Call USAA – I also have international car rental insurance and tried to call the 0800 German number for USAA, unfortunately all the offices were closed and no Emergency number was given for back up. Very disappointing.
8:11 p.m. Local law enforcement – we were lucky and a local polizei was there and asked him for his assistance. He called ADAC for me (the same as I did in #1 – and they told him someone was one their way)
After almost 3 hours, ADAC finally called back and said someone would be calling when they were close to our location. We never got a call. Once they did arrive their demeanor was unprofessional and unfriendly. After he worked on my vehicle for a bit he determined that my radiator was “kaput” and we would not be able to drive the car.
He then towed us to a very small town in Hessen at a service station to drop off the broken car. He told us to wait for a call from a rental car company located at the airport (where we would need to take a taxi.)
When all else fails
So I’ve learned being creative and flexible is essential in situations like this ~ several of our savvy travelers found a service to “taxi” them back home, so they headed off to Stuttgart. Some of my other sweet companions stayed back with me to comfort, console and support me while figuring out next steps.
About 12:30 a.m. we decided to get out of the cold van parked in front of a dark service station in the “middle of nowhere” and take a taxi and find shelter for the night. Thankful for sweet friends who live in Weisbaden and didn’t mind an early morning desperate text. We hit the sack by 2 a.m.
Universal phone number for getting a taxi
ANYWHERE IN GERMANY!
Since no rental companies were open on Monday because it was MAY DAY in Germany, we would had to come up with “alternative” plans. So, the next morning we discovered we could take the train back to Stuttgart for about €29/person the Quers-Land-Ticket (good for holidays and work days.) Thankful for the TRAIN CLASS!!!
KEEP ALL RECEIPTS!!
We were on TRAIN way ~
After the storm – safe and sound!
On Tuesday, the first OPEN day for businesses in Germany following a national holiday, I promptly walked into the Rental car company and ADAC offices. I can’t emphasize enough how important it was to keep all ORIGINAL RECEIPTS, and make copies for yourself. Create a file to keep everything organized and write a timeline of events, this really helped describe our misadventure to both companies.
Here is what happened next ~
Rental car company – After I calmly and collectively showed my “file” and timeline of the incident they apologized profusely and began working on reimbursing for our inconvenience. They also took care of the broken down car in Weisbaden.
ADAC – ADAC is working on reimbursing us for all of our travel expenses to get home. I was not aware of ALL of my benefits. I found out as a PLUS member I was entitled to many more services than I received that night. We would have been reimbursed for hotel accommodations as well. However, after I Tweeted my incident I have received LOTS of attention. Who knew?
Both companies said it would take a while (ADAC – maybe up to 30 days) to process but I would receive reimbursement of some kind. I hope so, some of my travelers who took the taxi to Stuttgart cost almost €300.
I do believe our actions and reactions can determine our results. Our actions will display our belief and faith in being prepared, making a plan, and being creative when all else fails. My belief in thinking everything will work out and calmly communicating my plan to my travelers, I think helped everybody work together for solutions. So all’s well that does end well, indeed.
Next week’s adventure… we’re off to Slovenia! We’ve got a great VAN!!