I was actually in Barcelona when I first heard about a new virus sweeping across Europe. My parents wanted me to pull the pin on my Gap year and come straight home, but everyone else had the same idea too. All over the world, people were freaking out and trying to grab a seat on any flight going.
My travel agent, was amazing. Even though there were hardly any seats available to anywhere, she pulled a rabbit out of a hat in finding me a seat home via Costa Rica. It was pretty last-minute – there was horrible traffic getting to the airport, and a massive queue once I got there, but my travel agent was on the phone with me the whole way – talking me through where to go, who to see and how to avoid all the thousands of other people that were scrambling for tickets.
It must have been 2am in New Zealand. She used all her knowledge, experience and contacts to get me to the right desk on time – otherwise I would never have made it, and who knows how long I would have needed to wait for another seat home.
My parents were tracking my journey the whole way home and saw my plane out of Costa Rica suddenly lose altitude and turn around. They called my agent straight away, and she called the airline to check what was happening. Turned out the plane was just making a scheduled refuelling stop – panic over, and after a few more hours I was back in Auckland.
It was definitely an experience I will never forget, but I can’t wait to go back to Europe and finish my Gap year, and when I do, I’ll definitely be booking with House of Travel again.