I freely admit to loving an adventure and, occasionally, living on the foolish side of travel. I’ve gone out of the country with nothing but a few Euros and a debit card. I’ve taken day trips and forgotten my maps, repeatedly left my phone charger, and, once spent an entire night looking for my passport so I could catch a dawn flight. It had fallen out of my bag onto the floor and, due to my sleep deprivation, I kept thinking it was a pile of lint until I tried to sweep it!

On my day trip to Alabama’s Black Belt, to meet some famous quilters of Gee’s Bend, I tried to be better prepared. I stopped at a local Pilot gas station to top off my tank and prepare for an early morning drive. I receive a text message with each credit card charge but my phone was in the car so I didn’t hear the “chirps.” I glanced at my phone once I arrived home and was stunned to see a $500.00 charge on my card. $500.00!

I immediately contacted my card services department to dispute it and to freeze my card. I don’t drive an 18-wheeler and my top off was only $36.00. I was sure my card had been hacked in the thirty minutes it took me to drive home. However, the customer service agent informed that the $500.00 was the “test charge” to make sure my card was active.

WHAT. THE. HELL. PILOT??? I’ve filled my tank at this location hundreds of times over the years! My credit card wasn’t new and I’d used it frequently at that location. Why wasn’t there a $1.00 test charge like you usually send? I call customer service and the credit card agent, of course, could not answer that. He assured me it wasn’t actually a charge and would drop off within 24 hours and he would immediately lift the freeze off of my card.

So, the next morning I’m on the road and because I’m about to enter #NoPhoneServiceOrGPSLand, I decided to top off my tank again and guess what: my card was still frozen. And I couldn’t contact my card company because there was NO CELL SERVICE. I’d already arrived in #CellPhoneTwilightZone.

Once upon a time, I would have been up the creek (did I mention I never carry cash?), but I’ve learned from my errant thinking and now I always have a spare card as a backup and a few dollars. I swiped my backup card and continued to enjoy my day. I was able to turn on my primary card as soon as I had cell service. I didn’t contact card services because, honestly, what would have been the point? My card was on and I could keep going.

Another reason to have a spare (or three) cards: POINTS. I used to be annoyed with the number of credit card offers I received but now I look at them carefully to see if they will serve me. Are you offering thousands of points if I charge $1000.00 in the first three months? SIGN ME UP! I have moved my monthly spending to so many different cards I have to use an Excel sheet to keep up! But I make it work for me and I pay off my balance each month.

Have you had an unexpected credit card event that almost derailed your adventure? Did you get a ridiculous “charge” hold on your card?

Now, tell the truth: was it at a Pilot?