It’s crazy, I know, to whine about bad travel days. But the truth of the matter is some travel days can really suck big time. As much as we are grateful for the opportunity to travel, every now and then we’ll have to endure a miserably long day. With convoluted flight routes to online booking woes, to turbulent flights, to cancelled connecting flights and stormy weather, some travel days are just really unnerving. Some days I wonder why we put ourselves through it. Why does anyone?
“If all difficulties were known at the outset of a long journey, most of us would never start out at all.” Dan Rather
To say our trek home from Portugal was arduous, would be an understatement. Our flight took off 45 minutes late from Lisbon. This was not a big deal as we knew we were facing a 4-hour layover in Newark, NJ, but it was annoying just the same and it set the pace for the day.
Our flight from Washington, DC to Lisbon – one month earlier – was consistently turbulent for the better part of the flight. I had high hopes we would not have a similar experience crossing the pond on our return flight, but my hopes were soon dashed as we bounced our way on/off for eight hours across the Atlantic. Our final dissent into Newark, NJ was through a storm which proved to be particularly unsettling. Plain and simple. It sucked.
Which Gate Is It?
Once again on solid ground we made our way through customs, checked our bags on to our connecting flight and found our way to the gate only to discover our flight had been cancelled. The airline – United – booked us on to a flight two hours later and gave us a new gate number. Then we were given another gate number and then a third, but only because we kept asking. Had we not been paying close attention, we would have missed our connecting flight as it actually left from a different gate and no announcements were made.
Travel Days Can Really Suck
Did I mention there was a storm hanging over Newark, NJ? Well, what lands in NJ has to take off from NJ right back in to the storm. Fortunately, the flight from Newark to Washington, DC is only 45 minutes – but it was a long flight just the same.
Interestingly, once we arrived in DC only one of our bags came out on the luggage carousel. Our other bag had flown on an earlier flight and was waiting for us in the baggage claim office. Our bag could fly earlier, but we could not. Go figure. To add insult to injury, once we arrived at our Metro stop, 19 hours after leaving Lisbon, the train doors opened and we stepped out in to torrential rain.
There’s a children’s book titled, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. I’m pretty sure our trek home from Portugal could easily be a chapter in Alexander’s day. I’ve never been so glad to be home and if I never get on another plane again, I’d be good with that. But…
“Airplane travel is nature’s way of making you look like your passport photo.” – Al Gore
I’m Calling Bullshit
If you look for them, you’re bound to find a plethora of blog posts about how to manage and sometimes even enjoy long flights. Pinterest, is loaded with pins offering a wide variety of tricks of the travel trade and supposed encouraging words of how to get over your fear of flying. Ha! Such posts often encourage a neck pillow, or a play list, or an eye mask.
If you have an innate fear of flying, no neck pillow or eye mask is going to cut it. Sure, it might make one a little more comfortable, but it isn’t going to conquer the fear. I would love nothing more than to not be afraid of heights, or turbulence or creepy crawly things, but the fear is real. So, I’m calling bullshit on the so-called how to get over your fear of flying with cozy pillow lists.
OMG, Will it Ever End?
If you’re like me and pretty much loathe every aspect of flying, and turbulence sends your heart racing, and you spend the better part of your time counting down the hours, here’s my realistic tricks of the travel trade for long (OMG will it ever end?) flights and how to get through marathon travel days.
- Valium. Let me repeat that, Valium. It calms the nerves.
- If you don’t prescribe to pills, enjoy a cocktail or two or three or however many it takes.
- Bring your own set of ear buds that fit comfortably.
- Put on a sweater and blast the a/c right in your face.
- Choose an aisle seat so you can get up easily.
- Bring a fully charged Kindle with loads of books so you have choices.
Abi can attest to my disdain for the flying tin can experience. While he has a calm set of nerves with regards to flying, he does not enjoy the endurance of a long transatlantic flight. Now that we’ve given up on the airline miles programs, we’re going to take a serious look at finding deals for business class seats so we can at least be reasonably comfortable. As much as I dread it, I will fly again because it gets me where I need/want to go. But, I don’t have to like it.
“When fears are grounded, dreams take flight”. Anon