Italy Life Stories

Travel Despite the Struggle

venice italy

It’s 2:45 AM, Italian chatter fills in blank spaces between the hip hop instrumentals playing in my headphones as I reflect on some travel struggle. I’m still on LA time, the nine-hour time difference has me jet-lagged like a mofrigger, and my monstrous nap from 7 PM to midnight could not have helped my case. I’m the only sober person sitting in the lobby of a hostel where Peroni bottles now serve as decoration left by travelers passing through Venice.

Like them, I’m here in transit, taking a moment to reflect on the reasons we travel, despite the struggle.

It’s important to understand that while I’m in a city where most people only dream of coming, the past 48 hours were very far from #TravelGoals.

While you think “Damon and Jo, they’re living the dream,” I can assure you that I was sprinting, bra-less, through the airport in Rome trying to make my connecting flight to Venice that departed in about 15 minutes.

Let’s take a step back, and rewind 18 hours before the bra-less-running-through-the-airport fiasco. Damon and I had a spur of the moment opportunity to ride The Orient Express from Venice to London. We’d never pass up a trip to Europe, even though staying for less than a week is a bit painful. To maximize our time, we planned on arriving a day earlier to do what one should do while in Italy: sip tiny coffees in local cafés while chatting up wise Italians who’d lived in Venice their whole lives.

Next scene is us arriving at LAX at 9 AM, only to find out we’d been automatically rebooked for a flight directly to Rome at 4 PM that day, and after 12 hours of a direct flight, we’d have an hour to connect to our flight to Venice. This not only added six hours onto our travel time in the form of an unnecessary delay, but As frequent flyers, we try to avoid these hour-long layovers at all costs to prevent the exact situation that happened later.

Somehow, I managed to make it through the 12 hours of flying with a broken TV monitor, and neighbors who had to pee about seven times in-flight. Shout out to being an aisle seat person. Our ride was going smoothly, a little too smooth as we barely moved. We were delayed 30 minutes in the air due to wind conditions, and arrived at Rome’s airport with 15 minutes to sprint to the next gate to make our flight to Venice. “It’s ok, if we miss this flight, I’m sure there are others leaving today to get us to Venice,” Damon mentions. I look at him with such confidence, “no boo boo, this is Italy, things don’t work like that.”


The gates couldn’t be further away from one another, and of course, there was a pit stop through passport control where the officer took her sweet, dandy old time. Sweat beads fall from underneath my shirt, at least I’m burning calories from all the carbs consumed on the first plane ride.

We laughed as our own carry on bags hit us while jogging through not one, but two perfume clouds of duty-free zones, Damon fumbled a water bottle that rolled on the floor almost taking out a toddler, and eventually we had to take a moment to shout out how out of breath we were.

With five minutes to spare, we make it to the gate, arriving in Venice about 45 minutes later. Finally, something went right.


15 minutes of waiting at baggage claim for both of our bags, and nulla – nothing.

At around 5PM, after about 20 hours of travel, we made it to Venice, but our bags never did. There we were, filling out a complaint form to get our bags sent to our accommodation, guess when? The next day. Why? Because it’s a national holiday, as almost everyday is in Europe, and because the only other flight leaving to go to Venice from Rome left at 9PM. They just know how to live hard here, which means not a lot of work sometimes.

After finishing the complaint form, and confirming our bags would be sent to us tomorrow morning, we realize that our accommodation had been switched last minute, and we gave the airport the wrong information – cue not knowing if I’ll ever get out of this smelly “Make Love, Not War” T-Shirt and musty workout pants. I made the mistake of not taking my own travel tip and packing at least one change of clothes in my carry on, so I guess I deserve to stink.

There you have it: a perfect example of how things look a little different depending which angle you’re seeing them from. And I have to say, even though I had to hand wash my undies, and feel slightly crusty even post-shower, I wouldn’t trade the feeling of this spontaneity for the world.




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  • Sorry you had such a rough time. But I’m right there with you. Sometimes traveling can have it’s painful moments, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Hope the rest of the trip goes smoothly!

  • Taste of France

    As soon as I read “run for the gate” I knew your bags weren’t going to arrive. Impossible, even in the U.S. (said from experience). I take two changes of clothing in my carryon–one in case my luggage is lost and one in case the person next to me on the plane spills his dinner all over me (again, said from experience).
    Have a great time in Venice! It’s a great place to be.

  • Odette Bragg

    Rome airport has to be one of the worst in the world. When I was there, at least 500 sweaty, upset people were trying to get through TWO passport control lines. I held out my US passport, and the clerk just waved me through.

  • Odette Bragg

    I forgot to say: there were no queues for passport control. Just a mass of people pressing forward!

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  • Paksunny

    Reminds me of that time my friend and I ran to the train station because we were craving McDonald’s breakfast. We thought we had 20 minutes to spare but turns out as Italy virgins, people here take the full 20 minutes :p Made it with 1 minute to spare… and forgot to mention we got separated so one of us would of made the trip and the other would of stayed. These are the best experiences and stories to tell!

  • Justyna Sadczuk

    I feel you so hard with braless sprinting but for me it was for the bus and it almost left without us due to delays with connected buses. But to the Vienn we arrived safely!

  • Hope

    HEY THERE! May I just say that I might get a lil deep in this comment! Just a full blown warning for ya! But I recently graduated high school and have not put in any college applications or anything with school after high school. I have no idea what I want to do and have no job. I was thinking about being an au pair in Italy to see how it is and if it sparks a lil something for me! But of course something is holding me back. My friends, FAMILY (which is a HUGE one), and MYSELF (the biggest obstacle). I don’t have he money (like everyone >.<), I don't have anyone else outside of Hawaii (which is where is where I live and where I am from), and I am not independent enough. I am a very passive person. I tend to answer quickly to those of higher authority and nod my head like I understand what they are telling me what to do, when I seriously don't! I am too scared to speak up for myself when it comes to strangers. And I also don't know any other language other than English (and a lil Pidgin and Hawaiian). I don't know if traveling is for me, because imma be straight up real…i'm lazy as hell! I would rather stay in then go out! But there's just a teeeny tiny littler something in me that is telling me to do it. I definitely don't want the cookie-cuter life (go to college, get a degree, find a husband, have kids, settle, and then just die) NO HONEY BOO! Das not what I want. That's why I've made the decision of not going to college (yet) I guess. I wanted to live life differently than everyone around me. But again…my independent nature is nonexistent, my social skills (not so great), and just being nervous for everything outside of where I am at now. There's a lot of money at risk if I travel for the first time (not my money if I might add), and if I get homesick or miss a flight or screw something up. Then the disappointment from everyone at home will kill me.

    I just need some serious advice. And I thought asking the two perfect people who have gone through a tremendous amount of everything I just described, could help me. Share some of dat knowledge. I have watched your videos for 2 years and have gotten many of my friends hooked on your videos and blog! I seriously look up to the both of you and the amount of heart and courage it takes to do what you do! SERIOUSLY!

    From a sincere lover of everything that ya'll believe/do,

    Hope (From O'ahu, Hawaii) <3

    • Val

      Hi ! I’m neither Damon nor Jo’ but as I can completely relate with you I enable myself to answer you.

      One year ago, I’ve decided that directly after my graduation I’ll go to England as an Au Pair because I would like to improve my English (I am French, so I apologize for every mistake I can make in this reply) and because I love taking care of children. Most of the time they’re so lovely !
      My parents end up to accept the idea and supported me. The unique condition was “get your graduation 1st and do all the papers by yourself”. The point was that if really I WANTED to go, then despite every ordeal and difficulty I would be able to overcome it and never give up.
      That’s how I decided to spend all me free time studying English in order to improve my skills. I don’t know if I did it well, but at least I involved myself in the process with all my heart. When I started to fill the papers for the agency I had chosen beforehand, I wasn’t that sure if it was the best idea ever.
      Indeed, I am really dependent on what people say and I’m really the kind of girl to nod every time someone tells me something. Besides, I don’t have a lot’s of confidence and this kind of lead me to awkward moments.
      But, I decided that if I didn’t jump in the adventure I’ll definitely have regrets later. And I don’t want it at all. Therefore, I sent all the documents to the agency and finally got a family. From now on, I know when and where I will go and that’s completely freaking me out. It’s the 1st time in my life that I’ll take the plane, that I’ll be very far from my home. I don’t really know if the children will be all kind and obviously I’m afraid to mess something up. Au pair is a big responsibility to take.

      Long story short, if it can reassure you, I think that you’re right to think a lot before taking any decision, but if really you want to experience it, go and don’t have regrets. I feel like maybe I will fail some things, maybe I’ll be homesick (probably) but… It’ll help me getting my independence, growing up, taking my decisions and even – why not – knowing what I want to do with my life…

      So yeah. I hope this reply wasn’t too long and useless… I mostly hope I didn’t make too much mistakes and that you can get everything.

      • Hope

        Hi! Thank you so much for telling me your story and empathizing with me! I can’t tell you in words how helpful that comment is to me. I am still struggling to figure out how I am doing all of this. I am in contact with a family and it was all going well until I found out that it will cost me way more money just to get the visa. And I’d be spending all money to stay in Italy for just 3 months. Everything after high school has been really tough (finding jobs and losing friends), but your comment has really helped me find some light through it all!! THANK YOU! And your English seems impeccable to me! It seems like you’re a natural at it already! I hope your au pair experience is AMAZING and you enjoy all of it! ❤

        • Val

          Whow the last part of your comment makes my day, really ! ♥_♥
          I’m lucky with my choice as France and England are very close contrarily to you with Italy. But I’m sure your 3 months in the country was really worthwhile despite the amount of money you invested in the travel. So yes, you’re welcome ! I’m glad to be helpful if at least you can “find some light through it all” that’s already amazing ! 😉

  • Aniya Jefferson

    Wow! And here thought everything in an airport will go perfect (cue emoji).