I thought I’d seen it all when it came to navigating international airports as a seasoned traveler. My recent arrival in Italy, on the other hand, demonstrated that there is always something fresh to learn.

We flew from Austin, Texas to JFK, New York and then to Madrid, Spain. When we arrived in Madrid, we had to go through customs and immigration. We were already weary from two long flights with a three year old and thankfully ushered over to a separate accelerated line when the airport officer noticed we had a young child with us. This made the process go more quickly. I really appreciate it when airports accommodate travelers with children. 

When we finally arrived in Naples, Italy, our home for the next several years, we were faced with another challenge. We had enough luggage to last us three months (the estimated time for our household goods shipment to arrive from Texas via container ship) and as I glanced over to the luggage cart machine, I saw that it only accepted coins, not credit cards. During my previous trips to Europe, I had learned that sometimes you just need good old fashioned cash money. And I usually would have thoughtfully stashed some coins in my wallet and triumphantly pulled it out when it was needed. I personally feel that it is a very American sentiment to assume that credit card transactions will be available. However, I completely forgot that detail during this trip over the Atlantic. (Maybe it was the challenge of moving to another country with a small child. Of course it was!) But, that did not help us at the moment. The harsh reality of the moment was, we did not have a euro coin – insert facepalm emoji – and we had a small mountain of luggage with us. We were also dead tired; we’d been traveling for over 24 hours.

I mustered up the courage to ask a group of girls around my age nearby if they happened to have a coin for the luggage cart. They were friendly and accommodating and rummaged around in their purses to help. Unfortunately, only one of them had any coins, and it was 50 euro cents. It was the wrong shape and size for these carts. It was not enough to get us a luggage cart, but their willingness to assist us was much appreciated.

My husband then suggested that I go to the information desk and ask for help. I was skeptical, as customer service in Europe is often not as accommodating as it is in the United States. But we needed a solution and so I headed over to the counter. The representative I spoke to was extraordinary. He even tried to use his own coin on his personal keychain. What a star! Unfortunately, the coin did not fit, and we were left in another bind. I walked back to where my husband was waiting with our three year old and our gigantic pile of luggage. 

For a quick moment, we considered rolling our luggage out in shifts. We decided that would be almost impossible. Then, I spotted a family nearby who had a luggage cart and asked if they had an extra coin. To my relief, they were able to give us their luggage cart slug, which doesn’t have monetary value but can be used just like a euro. It was a small gesture, but it made a world of difference for us. I was relieved that this attempt to find a solution to our problem had worked. We got our cart, loaded it to the brim, and waved to the helpful family. “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” Lots of smiles. We breathed a collective sigh of relief and walked out of the airport where our ride was waiting for us. 

The experience reminded me that traveling is not just about visiting new places and trying new things, but also about problem-solving and adapting to new situations. It can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding, especially when you overcome unexpected hurdles.

Overall, my arrival in Italy was an immersive experience that reminded me of the importance of being prepared, asking for help, and being open-minded to unexpected challenges. It was a humbling experience that made me appreciate the kindness of strangers and the thrill of traveling even more.

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Hi, I’m Diana — the Dolce Mom! 

In 2023 my husband took a job in southern Italy and we moved our family from Austin, Texas to Bacoli, Italy near Naples. I’m a professional home organizer by trade, but now spend my days immersing myself and our little one in Italian culture and travel. 

I believe a well-traveled life is as much about experiencing new things as it is a state of mind. I’m in a pursuit for the good life in all its forms. Here I share that pursuit and its innersection with real life. 

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