“Leave a little BFC.”
A little what?
This is my new favorite travel phrase. I got it from Margaret while we were in Portugal and have been using it ever since.
Sometimes your BFC can be smaller than others. For example, when you’re catching a bus or a subway that comes along every 10 or 15 minutes. Your BFC time is considerably less in that situation. If you’re catching a flight and you’re not sure how you’re getting to the airport and how stringent security is in your particular country, your BFC time needs to be longer.
So what is BFC you ask? Buffer For Confusion.
It’s the perfect phrase for travel. You’re in an unfamiliar place and it just takes you longer to figure things out. You actually read (and re-read) the signs. You may have a particular plan, but then you realize that various modes of public transportation are on strike. Maybe there is road construction or routine maintenance on a subway. In all cases, you need a BFC.
When we were leaving London, we left a pretty big BFC. Parts of the tube were being fixed. We thought we’d take the Victoria line to the Piccadilly line. But when we asked the man running our hotel, he suggested a different route. The District line was being worked on in another area, so we could take the District line from Sloane Square and switch to the Piccadilly line at Hammersmith. It was really good that we asked, because Mark told us the easiest way to go, taking into account that we were schlepping our bags. The switch at Hammersmith only involved walking a few steps across the platform and hopping onto the next train. We allowed a big BFC, but it turns out we were pretty efficient this time.
Earlier in the week we were going from Obidos to Fatima. In order to do that route, we had to take a bus from Obidos to Caldas da Rainha. Our bus was late so we ended up taking a later bus to Fatima than we had planned. This was before we had heard the phrase BFC and you can see where that got us – sitting in a boring bus station for an extra hour and a half.
I have a feeling this phrase is going to stick with me in more situations than just travel.