Or, how not to quit your job and travel…
If you want your new traveling lifestyle to get off to a stress-free start, take a few lessons from our wearied asses. Cut your old life free quickly without lingering around your old stomping grounds doing this and that. It’s great to enjoy your newfound freedom in your home, leisurely visiting with your friends before hitting the road. However, don’t plan a half dozen trips to and fro. If you must do so, get your gear down to what you’ll be taking with you on the BIG trip, before you start bopping around. Consolidate and organize.
A crazy long stressful drive through an absurd rain storm awaited me following a very relaxing week of chilling on the in-law’s farm in Virginia. This wonderful entry into super stressville was the result of one part mandatory recall on the rental van and two parts Brandy packing debacle (I should note that Brandy spent pretty much the entire week hunched over her sewing machine magically pounding out half our gear, while I sat on my ass leaning against a post with a piece of straw hanging from my gums).
Too much stuff, organized in random disarray, revolved around our sad bodies slumped on the floor of the living room of every friend we stayed with. “Where is this shit? Oh, I think it’s at Lauren’s, no wait, did we leave it in Virginia? Maybe at Austin and Elyza’s? Do we really need this crap? Well yeah, for Hawaii, but what about the biking? That’s for the bicycle trip, but not Phish, but we need this other stuff for terr…”
… my brain fuzzy for days from the hellacious drive, recovery not at all aided by several beers per night. Finally, our last day before Hawaii and I’m feeling normal again, no longer shuffling around gazing at miscellaneous objects with a blank look of despair. Too bad Brandy and I split apart so I could get my chompers worked on, while she finished sewing and packing, so we could not use my newfound focus to great effect. Of course, miscommunication and assumption lead to several items left behind, including Brandy’s camera, and my camera charger. Well, I guess we’ll have to put that whole thoughtful photography idea into play after all.
Oh well, we may have forgotten some shit, but hooray! we boarded our super AM flight and we’re off to Hawaii after a brief layover in Atlanta.
Huh, we don’t seem to be moving from the gate. Oh well, nothing to worry about… Hmm, what’s this, you say… a problem with the luggage conveyor belt, but we’ll be moving in a few minutes? Ok! Back to my nap.
Gee, it’s an hour and a half later and we’re taxiing down the runway… well, they’ll make up some time and there are a lot of people connecting to Honolulu, they’ll probably hold the plane for a few minutes.
Nope, the plane is gone.
Aww, shucks Delta, ya shuddunt’ve! Thanks for rebooking us on a later flight that connects through LAX! Well Shubby McGee! Looks like that one won’t get us there in time for our flight to Kaua’i – booked on a different airline, nachurly. Hmm, some of these other options on the website look pretty good. How about tomorrow through LAX, but then directly to Kaua’i! We’ll lose a night on the Kalalau Trail, : ( but at least we won’t need to buy another interisland flight : D
Well that’s done, but WTF will we do in friggin’ Atlanta for a day?? Wait a tic, my cousin Matt and his wife Jen just moved here a few months ago!! Hopefully he kept his Wisco number. Nope, but the fine fellow or madame who got it was kind enough to forward on the new one. An hour later I’m on my way to Matt’s apartment. By happy coincidence Matt has taken the next couple days off work and is free to hang.
“So did you give your phone to somebody or something?”
“Funny story… That number was my old work cell, and when I quit, they apparently chose to give up the service. My brother waltzed into the store to get a new phone a couple months later, and lo and behold, guess which number he gets.”
Brother Ben’s response to the coincidence was, “I could have won the lottery, but no, instead I get to be your personal secretary!”
So this little disaster turned into quite a pleasant unexpected visit with my cousin, his wife and his ridiculously adorable daughter. The fact that I was able to harangue Hawaiian Airways into changing the missed flight into our as yet un-booked Hilo to Honolulu flight for a nominal fee was simply icing on the cake. Never mind that we had gate checked our clothing bag, which ended up with its own saga, so our seat neighbors on the following day’s flights got the intense pleasure of the wafting fumes of my well-worn travel tee.
This was not the only ‘tragedy’ to come with its share of platinum lining. The forced car exchange, which conveniently took place in the middle of a parking lot at the exact moment the Noah-level downpour decided to make its debut, brought us a bit of fortune. We were able to level down to a more fuel-efficient vehicle and we got the rental company to knock off a day of our fee. Not only that, but Brandy found – get this – a fifty dollar bill! in the shit bin in the side of her door. One can only imagine why someone would shove Grant’s face down there, and for how long he could have been grumbling in the isolation of his plastic dungeon, but thanks?
So what have we learned here? Get your shit together early and remember that you cannot do as much in as short of a time as you can when you have an actual home. We are very experienced travelers and generally have everything down to a T, but with all of our stuff in bags scattered across various locations, suddenly our little equilibrium got tossed and we were like n00bies dumping our entire collection of CDs into a handheld duffel bag for our first backpacking trip to Europe*. We also were deeply reinforced with that wonderful fact every traveler knows: the road giveth and taketh and your attitude determines to a great extent how you fare.
One final note about starting a travel life, my first Monday after leaving my jorb was like a dream wandering around the city with no need to be anywhere or do anything. Thinking on that first day softened the ensuing stress, even when I was a serious grump glob.
*This may or may not have happened on my first backpacking trip to Europe :/