Insights on Travel from Costa Rica Expeditions’ Founder Michael Kaye and his Expert Friends.

How to get extra baggage stored on the train from Paris to Madrid.

This is a continuation of the February 1 post.

By the time the soaked clothes in our suitcases had been sent to the laundry to be dried, I was already thinking if I had handled the situation more cleverly my luggage would have been safely stored on the train in someplace other than my shower.

After all I have always prided myself for being very good at getting people to do what they are absolutely certain they do not want to or cannot do. I learned how to do this from masters and had the strategies clear in my head long before that evening in Paris. They work whether traveling or at home.

  • Help whoever you are dealing with understand that they can and want to do something that minutes before they would never have imagined doing.
  • Either anticipate the situation and have a good strategy worked out before hand, or if the situation comes up unexpectedly have the right reaction without having to think about. It.
  • Keep in mind the basic rule of human motivation and action: “People do what they perceive to be rewarded and do not do what they perceive to be punished.” It is their perception not yours that counts.
  • Believe with unwavering certainty there is a solution, even if you do not know what it is.
  • Change the point of the exercise from why it is impossible to, “surely we are creative enough to figure it out.”
  • Do whatever is necessary to avoid time pressure. If you know you are going to have a problem start very early. If the problem comes up unexpectedly, buy time to calmly together come to a solution.

Now three and a half years later I absolutely believe that there was someplace, an empty compartment, a maintenance closet, someplace on that whole long train other than our tiny compartment where the conductor could have safely stored the luggage.

On the platform of the station in Paris if instead of, “What do you mean no baggage car!!” I had said, “Oh how stupid of me!! Please help me,” there would have been a very good chance that the conductor would have come up with a solution.

Had he even wavered, Yolanda who invariably rises to these occasions would have chimed in with, “Michael, don’t bother the man. I’ll sleep on the luggage.” There is not a Spanish conductor in the whole system who has a chance against that. Almost certainly, within minutes, and no more than 50 Euros the luggage would have been safely stored.

If you have any, “Getting (or not getting) people to do things,” stories, please share.

Navigation and Notification Update

Speaking of getting things wrong, even though I pride myself on picking good people, I finally figured out that I made a bad choice on the programmer to do the navigation, search and programming for the blog. Last week I retained a small Costa Rica company for this. I very seldom make the same mistake twice in a row, so I’ll take a chance and predict that we will have both navigation and notification at least ready for you to test no later than the end of the day, February 27.

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2 Comments and 2 Replies

  • At February 08, 2010
    2:04:31 pm
    liz barber said:

    great story! you are so correct, an apology up front would have changed everything.

    • At February 08, 2010
      12:50:56 pm
      Jon said:

      I arrived in Frankfurt a few years back to find that the pilots of Lufthansa, operator of my onward flight, had gone on strike. Their management was telling people to queue for a voucher that they could then redeem with another airline for travel. Naturally, the queues to collect the vouchers stretched most of the way across the airport and was moving at a snail’s pace because they had to create vouchers for each family/traveller, answer questions, check identification, etc., etc..

      My moment of inspiration was to realise that Lufthansa would be so happy to have me out of their hair that they probably wouldn’t object if I did things in the reverse order. So I skipped the line and got a confirmed reservation that would take me to my final destination when I could get the voucher.

      But, oh dear, my flight is leaving in 60 minutes, rather less time than it would take me to clear the queue! So the other airline sent an agent with me, we found an Lufthansa person doing nothing useful, explained the situation, and got sent straight to Lufthansa’s airport ‘back office’. So I had the voucher and ticket all sorted in less than 20 minutes. For all I know, people are *still* waiting for their vouchers.

      For me the moral was: calmly present the company/person causing the problem with a solution (especially when they are already dealing with other irate customers) and watch as they miraculously find a way to send you on your way.

      • At February 08, 2010
        12:54:58 pm
        Max Waugh replied
        to Jon:

        Nice, Jon. :) I arrived in Copenhagen one morning only to learn that SAS pilots had gone on strike while we were in the air. Our connecting flight to London was canceled and we were forced onto another airline. I wish it had gone as smoothly as your experience did. Getting on the flight was no problem. Getting our bags on the flight was a big problem. We roamed around England and Scotland in the dead of winter without any of our stuff for 9 days!


        • At February 08, 2010
          1:22:07 pm
          Shannon Borrego replied
          to Jon:

          That’s brilliant, Jon! Of course now that you have shared your secret, you may live to regret it; should the same scenario occur in the future you will run to the ticket counter only to find a line of CRE bloggers there ahead of you. :)