There is one privilege that we living in America take for granted — availability. Nearly everyone you know can probably be found somehow at any time, whether by phone, instant message, text; there's very little gaps where communication is blocked. When you're traveling, however, this isn't always the case. While vacationing in a far off land, trying to coordinate a family of five amongst different countries, I realized how difficult things can become.
My mother, my 26 year old brother, his girlfriend, my dad and I went on a trip to Ireland two years ago. We spent our first night in Dublin, where we saw the Temple Bar District and the Trinity College. It was wonderful, and I was ready to run around the country from town to town with my mom to try and see everything. You see, when we first thought about going to Ireland, we planned on living cheaply. We would eat bread and peanut butter, stay in hostels, travel by bus — it would be an authentic backpacking experience. My brother, conversely, was expecting a more luxurious experience. He wanted to spend several days in each town, stay in Best Western Inns, perhaps take a guided tour; my mom and I were trying to see how many countries we could fit into a two week period. My father had yet another itinerary. He wanted to go off and ride his motorcycle through the Irish countryside, to explore on his own. He wanted it, so he got it; my dad rented a motorcycle and proceeded off into the rolling hills South.
The only problem was that he didn't have a phone. No one had a phone, except my brother. My dad never owned a cell phone, and my mom hadn't brought hers to prevent us from racking up a big roaming bill.
So my dad ran off without any contact, promising that he'll meet us in Dublin the night before we leave. With him gone my mom took me, my brother and his girlfriend to Galway in the West. We stayed there one night. The next morning as we were heading back to Dublin, where we would then take a ferry to Liverpool, my brother decided that he'd had enough of the jumping around. He wanted to stay in one place, so he and his girlfriend spent the night in Dublin. My mom and I boarded a ferry across the Irish Sea on our way to Liverpool.
So here we were, mother and son, a sea between us and the rest of the family. My dad hadn't called in two days, my brother had no way of getting a hold of us; this was when I saw exactly how important communication could be.
Eventually everything worked out, though. My brother came to meet us in Liverpool. We spent a day walking around to see all the different Beatles-Themed attractions, and we made it back to Dublin to find my dad standing at the airport with windblown hair, a motorcycle helmet and a plane ticket to America. Whether it had been by fate or by a stroke of luck, we all made it home safe and sound. One thing is for sure; I'll never take my phone for granted again.
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