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Canceled?

Some say a bird hit it on the way down. Whispers of a tarmac run-in with a car floated through the line. WOW Airlines had three words for the situation at Miami International Airport on Tuesday: mechanical issues, canceled. 

Suddenly, with the flap of a wing, or the turn of a key, or who knows what else, Souled Out Europe was in jeopardy. At 2:30 p.m., just hours before my flight from the U.S. to London was scheduled to depart, I had a choice— turn my head and call it off, or scramble through a wilderness of ticket counters, websites and 1-800 numbers to find a flight to London before dark.

I’ve called things off before. Those who know me well will remember a time when reliability wasn’t my strong suit. I didn’t stick it out through college, or band, or even high school soccer. In a former life, when the going got tough, I didn’t usually get going.

I came to Miami for the easy way out, after all. WOW Airlines offers round-trip flights to London via Iceland for about $300. Add to that a budget flight from Memphis to South Florida, and you have yourself a serviceable—if not luxurious–ride to Europe for under $500.

With that option now off the table, Souled Out Europe was doomed.

Only, it isn’t doomed.

Somewhere along the line, I learned how to fight back. I learned not to give up. South Memphis will teach you how to fight back. The Rocky Mountains will teach you how to fight back. The muddy jungles of Vietnam will teach you how to fight back.

My mind was made up; I dove into the maze.

At 2:30 in the afternoon, only a handful of flights were left to choose from. The affordable connection via Iceland was out. But other options abounded in the international terminal. The most affordable, a $1,200 connect via TAP Portugal was full.

Channeling my inner Richard Branson, I checked with Virgin Airlines. If anyone had a seat to London, they would! Alas, standby only from Sir Branson.

British Airways. Nope.

Only Delta had spare room via a partnership with Air France.

So here’s to you, Air France. Merci beaucoup. In the morning, I’ll watch the sun rise over Paris before hopping over to London. In the end, where Iceland failed, the French will step up.

Despite all odds, the purple plane paradox seems to have only cost me four hours and an extortion-like fee for a last minute seat.

England, Wales, and Scotland are all still on the table. Northern France, I’m coming for you. Those are all places I might have missed if I stuck around for the next WOW flight out of Miami.

But now, there’s no looking back.

I’m not turning around. There are promises to keep. There is content to deliver. There are pictures to take, people to meet, and places to see. In the long run, you can’t put a number on that.

Yes, I came to Miami for the cheap flight out. But, I’m leaving Miami without it.

Unlike my flight, Souled Out Europe is not canceled.

Editor’s Notes:

Win a Deuter Transit 50 travel bag by donating to the Souled Out Europe road fund. All entries guarantee you a chance to win a bag identical to the one I’m traveling Europe with. Color is green and black, and the bag fits people 5’2″-6’2″. 

Over the next week, I’ll chart a course through England, Wales, and Scotland, driving from dawn to dusk to bring you some of the most inspiring sights the U.K. has to offer. If you want to be updated via email when a new blog posts, just subscribe using the form on this page. 

Without the help of Souled Out readers like you, I would have been grounded in Miami. I’m not using hyperbole when I say that this trip wouldn’t be happening without you. From the $5 donors to the $500 donors, thank you from the bottom of my wandering heart.

-JS

Written by

When an urban developer bought my apartment building in 2016, it pushed me out of the soulful streets of Memphis, and outside, into a life on the road. I soon found out that travel was both a cure and an addiction. And I plan to keep going, with readers alongside, for as far as this road can stretch.

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