Sunday, August 21, 2011

Comfort while Traveling Abroad

 I've been traveling abroad for many years so think I understand how to travel by now. Light and comfortable is the only way! But initially this wasn't the case, I had to learn the hard way and I'm sure I'm not the only one with some herculean travel stories!

Many years ago I travelled to Hawaii on vacation. This was my maiden vacation taken on my own and one of the first trips of many to come. My idea was to take my camera, travel light and explore the entire Kauai island.

My excitement was overwhelming. Not only did I have to control this excitement but I had to stay focused enough to control my own packing. A ten day trip means day wear for ten days, night wear for nine nights, undies, extras - just in case you spill your early morning coffee or your verjus in the evening, right? And shoes!

So why did I have the biggest suitcase in the airport? And why did I feel so overdressed?

I've always been amused when I see travelers wearing designers clothes and shoes ready for the catwalk about to board a plane, and seriously? I have to admit I've been there, although in all honesty I've never flown in high heel shoes.

I had decided all on my own that I was going to wear my most comfortable clothing on the plane; so jeans it was, a beautifully tailored blouse and my Burberry coat. Now that's what I call comfort! A couple of days prior to my trip I had bought myself the most gorgeous pair of leather boots, so I donned on those too.

When I bought my boots they were a little tight, but of course I was not concerned at all because leather stretches. I also didn't get the boots with a zipper on the side because I liked the idea of an all enclosed boot and a snug fit.

When I sat down on my seat in the plane, I realized that perhaps my clothing wasn't the most comfortable after all. The jeans felt tight around my belly and the button felt like it was boring it's way down to my spine. My beautifully tailored blouse twisted around my waist and I began to feel restricted. My designer coat felt tight on my arms and made me feel like I was wearing a straight jacket.

The only thing that seemed to work for me was my awesome boots, not that anyone could see how awesome they were because the seat I was sitting in was so small and leg room was so scarce that my boots were touching the person in front of my seats feet.

By the time the plane landed in Honolulu airport I was feeling tired and frustrated with trying to maneuver myself around to get comfortable. I had half an hour to get through customs and to catch my connecting flight so started to feel a little anxious.

When I arrived at customs, the line was so long that I knew it would take a few hours to get through so I pushed my way forward, telling people I was about to miss my connecting flight. No one really seemed to care about my dilemma, especially the security guard at the front of the queue who immediately grabbed me by the scruff of my neck and sent me back to the end of the line. I had tried to explain that my flight connection was about to take off, but she was adamant that I get to the back. I did not argue besides, the security guard was a big fat mamma and I had no chance at winning an argument with her.

I think that was when I experienced my very first hot flash! I know 24 is young, but if you were in my shoes you'd understand entirely.

By the time I had reached the customs counter I was well aware that my flight had left without me and I was beyond despair. I collected my luggage and had to go through security again, which was so annoying and such a waste of time.

The first time I went through, the light lit up and the bell chimed in annoyance at my attempt to fool it. I had to remove some items of jewelry. The second time I went through the same thing happened. This time I was ordered to take off my boots. I was exuberantly unrestrained, this was the perfect time to show off my awesome boots, and believe me, by now all eyes were on those beauties!

I bent down to remove the boots and then realized that while on my 13 hour flight, my feet had swelled up slightly and suddenly removing my boots had become impossible. People behind me started to become annoyed at my slowness and started telling me to hurry up but I struggled.

Eventually I sat on the floor trying to pull my awesome boots off but still couldn't get them off. I asked the man behind me to help me out and his look of disgust was all I needed to know he would never lend a hand. I asked the security guards for a hand but they all shook their heads.

It took me about 10 minutes to get the boots off and when I finally cleared security, I couldn't get them back on! My awesome boots became my nightmare boots and I decided to carry them in my hands instead.

I had missed my connecting flight, but apparently this happens all the time, so I was swiftly wait listed for a future plane.

I still have those horrendous boots as a reminder of how not to fly. I've never worn them again though.


My lessons learnt were:

1. There is no need for fresh clothes for every day. A good pair of blue jeans goes a long way.
2. Track-suite pants are excellent when traveling for more than 5 hours.
3. If your shoes aren't comfortable, chances are you won't wear them.
4. Seriously, do you need a fresh blouse/shirt for every day or can you hand wash them?
5. By my calculations, undies are the most important item. They are small, travel well and take up very little room.
6. Large suitcases are such a problem when traveling. Once you get to your destination, don't forget you have to lug that bag with you wherever you go. In Europe, some hotel rooms are so small you'd be lucky to get a suitcase in the elevator - and that's before you've even got to your room!

If your maiden trip is a pleasurable one, chances are you'll be willing to travel again, however if it becomes a nightmare, you are less likely to want to do it again soon. Traveling light is paramount to a successful trip.

Bon Voyage.

~ Vanessa

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