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Never travel without your credit card

Plastic money has wide acceptance and allows for the balance to be paid off within a reasonable time frame

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Air travel has become so much easier nowadays. Earlier, we would print our boarding pass at home, now we just show the pass sent to our mobile phones.

Things have progressed fast in the airline sector; I remember sitting for ages in a travel agency in a Gulf state as the agent looked at his computer screen silently as time slipped by, trying to get us quick connections and also give us a good deal on the tickets.

Now my wife just surfs online for the cheapest flight and whips out her credit card and we are done. No tension, no stress. Travel is finally a fun experience.

The only thing to remember when travelling is to take the credit card with you.

We landed in Paris and a friendly (yes, friendly and polite) cab driver dropped us off to our hotel and my wife tipped him more than she should have, as she is not used to going on a vacation.

“Bon jour (good morning),” said the hotel manager at the front desk. (The other French word I learned from him was petit-dejeuner, a small, simple breakfast, which is anything but small and simple).

Every day we would wake up in a rush and run downstairs as we had a small window of time to enjoy our free breakfast (that came with the room) before the dishes were taken away. I could never finish the things given for the small dejeuner and carried back with me to the room, cheese (fromage), fruit yoghurt and croissants.

(The housekeeper would have wondered what we planned to do with all that food that was piling up on the dressing table in our room).

Card left in India

Back to the front desk when the manager asked for the credit card, my wife opened her bag and took out the wallet with all the plastic cards, looked at each of them and suddenly started rummaging through the bag and emptying everything out.

“I left the credit card back at home,” she said finally.

I froze in a quiet panic. I could not help her there as I am the only one in the family who does not have a credit card because I had cancelled all my credit cards, calling them the evil of usury.

(I finally realised in Canada that one cannot live in this world without a credit card and no credit history and that no car hire agency would rent me a car without the card).

We had travelled nine hours from Bengaluru, India, to get to France and I could not imagine going all the way back home, cancelling the Airbnb room and the onward journey tickets.

To cut a long story short, the manager quickly resolved the situation saying that he had my wife’s credit card details when she booked the room online, but that we would have to pay for the room in cash. Luckily, we had our debit cards and could withdraw money from the ATM.

Returning back home after our holiday, we realised the airlines were cutting costs and making us do all their work.

In the chaos at Charles de Gaulle and Lester Pearson airports, we were asked to check in our baggage ourselves at electronic stalls and attach the luggage tags that came out of a printer.

After fumbling for a while we gave up and asked a harried airport staff for help as we did not wish to send off our luggage to some other destination.

“Hope I am not asked to help fly the plane and you are asked to serve our own food,” I told my wife.

I should not have made such a remark as someone must have surely heard me, because the flight was delayed, and we had an onward connecting flight to catch.

Mahmood Saberi is a storyteller and blogger based in Bengaluru, India. Twitter: @mahmood_saberi.

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