It’s Only Change in Pockets

by Nancy Bestor

h2This statement is going to surprise no one, but things don’t always work out the way I want them to. Life isn’t free of hiccups and mishaps, and neither is travel. Our most recent family spring break in Hawaii was relaxing and full of beautiful vistas and fabulous whale sightings, something Maui is renowned for. It also, however, included a lost rental car key, which might sound like a minor ordeal, and in the grand scheme of things, is a minor ordeal. It did, however take many, many hours to resolve, and many, many dollars as well. Here’s how it went down.

It was our first full day in Hawaii, and we got a fairly early start to Kapalua Beach on Kapalua Bay, a tranquil site with gentle waves for swimming, stunning fish close to shore for snorkeling, and perfect temperatures for sitting on the beach sunning and reading. We enjoyed all of those things for several hours, and when it was time to head out for lunch, we gathered our many belongings and began walking back to our rental car. It quickly became apparent, however, that one “key” belonging was missing, the rental car key. We retraced our steps, emptied all our bags, and looked everywhere we thought we had been, but the old saying “looking for a needle in a haystack” could not have been more fitting for this situation. We were looking for a single car key, on a sandy beach, where hundreds of people were coming and going. You might say it would be next to impossible to find anything you had dropped, let alone a single car key. So we called Avis to ask for their help in getting us a new key.


The Avis rental car agency is about 50 minutes away from where we were “stranded,” and the Avis office had not been particularly quick when we picked up our car the day before. (It was taking 1-2 hours for customers to get their cars.) But things move really slowly in Hawaii. So what we thought might take 2-3 hours ended up taking about five.  Sadly, Avis couldn’t just bring us a new key for our rental car. They had to call for a local tow truck company to drive a tow truck to the airport rental agency, put a new car on a flatbed truck, bring it to us, and take our car back to the agency on the same flatbed truck.

There are so, so many worse places that we could have been stranded. We were fortunate enough to be on a beautiful beach, with all the gear one might want along when hanging out at the beach. After a walk to the grocery store, we even had enough food to sustain us.  And we had a phone with us, so we were able to stay on the beach until the driver called to tell us he was close by.


By far the hardest part of this mishap was arriving back in Ashland, Oregon to a letter from Avis notifying us that our lost key had cost us an additional (gulp) $400, which was almost double the price of the rental car for one week. Our car rental insurance clearly stated that it did not cover any costs in situations such as these, so we had no help there.

It’s hard to believe that’s really what it cost Avis, but we had no other options, save for renting a metal detector. So yes, this didn’t really work out the way I wanted it to, but I didn’t lose any sleep over it. There are far bigger mishaps that can happen in travel and in life as well. This was just a bump (albeit an expensive one) in the road.

2 thoughts on “It’s Only Change in Pockets

  1. Jeffrey Meith says:

    Happened to us as well! Many, many years ago, and either at Kapalua, or a beach beyond it, almost to the end of the road. In our case, the key was in my secure pocket of my bathing suit, but it wasn’t not as secure as advertised. Probably still in the bay. Same deal, but in those days the tow truck really towed us, after getting into the locked car. We learned then about AAA Plus Emergency Road Service. Have had it since. It pays for things like that.

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