Keep Calm… And Eat Chocolate. Lots of Chocolate.

I need carbs.  Lots of carbs.  And chocolate.  Chocolate now.

This is ‘stress eating’ at its best.  Certain times call for certain measures.  I have two choices: allow my anxiety to be put to rest through the delicious comfort of peanut M&M’s… or, to let it continue to gnaw at my stomach.  Or cry- I could definitely cry.  I think I’ll opt for the peanut M&M’s.

Picture 3

Today is big day in my life.  It’s the first trip I am taking on behalf of my Ambassadorship with AFAR—the magazine and media company that is my heartbeat—  and a trip that is, in many ways, the culmination of years of dreaming and planning.  MINI Cooper, owned by BMW, is flying me Business Class from New York to Munich, where I’ll be joining other journalists from the US, the UK, Germany and Italy to drive MINI Roadsters down from Munich to Tuscany for the International MINI Meeting.  Awaiting us in Mugello will be about 3,000 MINI enthusiasts with their new and fabulous classic cars, some of them with customizations like British flag hoods, the Mr. Bean Mini and Mini Moke.

Mr. Bean MINI...

Mr. Bean MINI…

I have always loved these little cars- I think the mild obsession began when I watched “The Italian Job” for the first time.  But, in the past week, I have seen no fewer than 100 MINIs as I’ve prepared for this trip, and I’ve observed just how perfect this little car is for city driving.  I am convinced that I need one of my own when I get back to New York City, and I can’t wait to get behind the wheel and experience it for myself.

That is, when I get to Munich.  Which leads me back to the peanut M&M situation.  I arrived this afternoon to New York’s JFK airport in plenty of time for my 5:40 flight.  Which, I learned when I got to the gate, was actually leaving out of Newark Airport in New Jersey—the furthest possible distance away from JFK airport, especially in NYC’s 5 o’clock traffic.

My heart dropped into my big toe, taking my stomach with it on the way down like a building undergoing mass demolition.  You know that feeling- it’s a heightened state of adrenaline, where the small of your back gathers instant sweat droplets and your muscles instantly tense up.  I start to panic.

Then, I remember all that I’ve learned in the past 11 years that I’ve been traveling internationally.  While this is the first time I have made this brilliant move, travel has put me in other situations where I’ve had to learn how to calm myself, realize that everything can always be figured out and work towards a solution.  One of the best skills that travel has equipped me with in life is to stay calm when my first reaction is to panic. 

My time in India has probably taught me some of these lessons more than any other place, and I'm very grateful to it for that.

My time in India has taught me some of these lessons more than any other place, and I’m very grateful to it for that.

I take deep breaths and call my contact at MINI who arranged all of my travel details.  How do I tell her that their appointed “Travel Expert” and journalist somehow missed the details of what airport she was flying out of?  This is like missing a job interview with Verizon because I thought it was with AT&T.  Of course, there is a reason my brain had JFK cemented in it.  I had gotten several flight options, one of which was out of JFK.  But none of that matters—what matters is I didn’t pay attention to look and confirm such an important detail.  Every fear that can possibly go through my mind, does:

What if this is the end of my career? 

What if I get de-Ambassadored by AFAR for this mis-hap? 

How embarrassed will I feel when I get to Munich and am that girl?  You know, the 31 year old who shows up in hot pink jeans looking 25 and holding up the entire group? 

And then…. I calm myself.  First with truth, then with chocolate (works every time!)  Everything will work out.  It always does.  People are gracious—we all understand that we’re human.  We make mistakes.  We read itineraries incorrectly.  We sometimes show up late.  Our own shortcomings as humans are what give us the ability to have grace with others.  It’s like when a brand new mom takes her infant on a plane for the first time– she  has backdated compassion for all of those mothers of infants whom she gave that “shut-your-crying-baby-up” look to during her twenties before she had children of her own.

Another shot from beautiful India...

Another shot from beautiful India…

Mia and Nathalie at MINI handle the situation with more ease, understanding and patience than you could even conceive of.  I knew this company was a class act, but now I really do want to go and buy a Mini right when I get home—if the quality of their staff is a reflection of the quality of their cars, I need one.  Plus, I want to wear a hot little black dress like Charlize Theron does as I flirtatiously weave in and out of traffic alongside Mark Wahlberg.  I digress…

Charlize Theron in "The Italian Job," courtesy of Corbis Images www.corbisimages.com

Charlize Theron in “The Italian Job,” courtesy of Corbis Images http://www.corbisimages.com

So, I’m Munich bound tonight, just 4 hours later than planned.  We’ll be visiting the gorgeous BMW Welt Museum and Plant tomorrow, before having an amazing dinner at Landersdorfer & Innerhofer.  Then, I’ll go to my exquisite room at the Hotel Schiller 5 in Munich and sleep well, I am sure.

Friday morning, we will be driving the roadsters down to Tuscany to the International Mini Meeting—less than a week from when I had my driving lesson to learn how to drive a manual transmission.  More on that to come- I will definitely be documenting this experience and am sure will be generating some laughs.  We’ll be stopping on the way along the gorgeous, scenic Garda Lake, before continuing on and spending nights at the Demidoff Country Resort in Firenze and at a private Villa in Tuscany’s Val d’Orcia.

Gorgeous Garda Lake, photo courtesy of www.eurotravelogue.com

Gorgeous Garda Lake, photo courtesy of http://www.eurotravelogue.com

I’ll be documenting the entire trip through my AFAR Highlights, as well as through social media: so be sure and like Travel With Castle on Facebook, follow me on Twitter @travlwithcastle and enjoy pictures on Instagram.

Pictures of the exquisite Tombolino private Villa we'll be staying at in Tuscany, courtesy of Merrion Charles http://www.merrioncharles.com/

Pictures of the exquisite Tombolino private Villa we’ll be staying at in Tuscany, courtesy of Merrion Charles http://www.merrioncharles.com/

Picture 9 Picture 10

While at the airport, I’ve already received so much assurance from friends and readers who have experienced similar situations and have made laughable mistakes.  They have brought more comfort than M&M’s ever could… and the truth is, we all make mistakes and have oversights sometimes.  Travel has taught me, more than anything else in my life has, to relax and just keep moving.  Things always work out, so it’s best to keep calm…. And carry on.  Oh wait, I think someone already coined that slogan?  It sounds familiar.

Carpe Diem.

Picture 11

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