My love/hate relationship with Daily deal sites

dealEveryday, I wake up to emails telling me about the latest deal. Teeth whitening for 57% off, noise canceling headphones for 49% off, oh and the best, a trip to Iceland for only $599 that includes airfare and lodging. Really, it’s like having the latest SkyMall magazine updated regularly in my inbox. And they personalize it too, so it’s even better.

Every day, I get excited about these deals. I will email them to friends, tell my co-workers, and more often than I should, make an impulse purchase. But how could I not want a two for one entrance to see the Zoo Lights??! Groupon and Livingsocial are planning my weekends, and I never have to get creative about where to eat or what I want to do. That’s because my life has started to revolve around the little coupon world inside of daily deals. They keep me in by telling me that I won’t get a Pass of all Passes for $10 if I leave and I won’t get to try really mediocre restaurants for half off.

After getting my fourth daily deal email of the day, I am often tempted to unsubscribe. I don’t want any of your weird massages or crappy cameras. But then I get an email about getting my wedding dress dry-cleaned and packaged for only $50 and I say, ok, I will stay a little longer.

In my constant state of unrest with my daily deals, I am always so close to ending it. But, just like with a relationship that isn’t terrible but isn’t great, I stick around when they bring me flowers that are wilting and went on sale. Because, it’s the thought that counts, right? And maybe someday this relationship will lead me to the jackpot of deals and I will be flying around the world for a year for only $100.

Tessa’s Travel Trials Vol. 1

Getting food poisoning on an airplane, meeting a dreadlocked lover, sharing twin beds with strangers, losing my luggage, hauling 300lbs of luggage all by myself while running through an airport, and missing one of my best friends wedding. These are just a few of the stories you will get to hear from this new series of Tessa’s Travel Trials. After traveling across the world many times to visit my family and heading out on different adventures, I’ve had, well, a lot of terrible traveling experiences. Not that it’s stopping me, but they are worth noting. So here it is, the first installment:

The time I got food poisoning and then missed a flight in one of the most dangerous cities in the world

A few years ago I was hopping on a plane in December to meet my family in Namibia for two weeks of road-tripping through safaris. The itinerary went like this: SLC-ATL-Johannesburg-Namibia. The first leg of the trip went fine. I had checked my two giant bags (my mom makes me bring a bag of mostly heavy things she can’t buy abroad) and I had my backpack with me. Next up was the longest part of the trip, a 17 hour flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg. To my dismay, I realized I was sitting in a middle seat in economy between two *bigger* guys. Not an ideal situation, but whatever.

Then, a few hours into the flight we had been fed sandwiches with some kind of processed meat. This did not settle well with my stomach and I found myself taking deep breaths with my eyes closed telling myself that this “holy crap I’m about to upchuck” feeling would pass. But then it didn’t. In a panic, I surveyed my exit options and jumped over the smaller of the sleeping men. I then ran to the nearest bathroom and pushed the door open just in time to throw up all over the bathroom. And when I say all over I mean the toilet, sink, and walls were covered. Yum. I then cleaned it up and didn’t tell anyone out of fear of being quarantined in a scary city. How I made it through the rest of the flight I still don’t know. I don’t remember the rest of the flight. But I do remember realizing that we were late and I had only 30 minutes to claim my baggage, re-check my baggage, and check in with the new airlines.

We de-boarded and I went as fast as I could through the airport only to be told that I was too late. More good news, there were no more flights going to Namibia tonight. Awesooooome. So there I was, sick, stuck in Johannesburg, no cash, no phone, and only an itouch ipod to buy Internet with to tell my family. Then I realized I needed to find a place to stay that night.

As I was standing in line to re-book my flight I noticed a girl and her aunt who had been on my flight. I stroke up a conversation about missing flights and casually asked what they were doing that night. Luckily, they invited me to share a hotel room with them. The unfortunate part was that the only rooms left were twin beds. So, we pushed two twin beds together and spent the night getting well acquainted. In the meantime my parents are freaking out because the email I sent looked something like this:

“Hey Dad,

Missed my flight. Coming in at 11am tomorrow. Got food poisoning, not fun. Found some people to share a hotel room with.”

And then I didn’t have Internet again. Luckily everything went smoothly the next day and I made it to Namibia. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relieved or more happy to see my family. It’s always a sweet reunion, but that one takes the cake.

Namibia sand dunes