Pre-Arrival Lessons Learned On My 1st Solo Trip

Before I even arrived in Dublin, I learned so much about flying that I hadn’t known before. 

1. A Backpacking Backpack is an essential. 

For this trip I decided to bring only a carry-on which included my burlap, military-style backpack. I figured it would be easier to carry around rather than a rolling suitcase. I thought wrong, well, sort of. I should have known that I needed a new backpack when I had to sew part of a front flap back to the bag. 

Basically, this bag was not made for backpacking. It is killing my arms and back. After checking out my roommate’s new backpack, it is clear that I need a backpacker type of backpack. It will be a good investment for my travels and my back and shoulder pain. 

2. Economy class on an international 10-hour flights suck. 

I can’t do that again. I’m a sucker for a good deal but I have to find a way to travel hack first class on 10-hour overnight flights. First class had their own cubicles with fancy reclining seats. I had a guy sitting next to me who wouldn’t move over even though there was an open seat next to him. Rude ( in my best Bon Qui Qui voice).  

I barely got any sleep as well. Although I will admit that international flight carriers, at least American Airlines, is becoming way more high-tech. There was an outlet to charge my cell phone, a place to connect an Ipod, a lot of movies and games to choose from (I watched Beyond the Lights–great movie, by the way).  

 


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3. Wine doesn’t help you sleep on long plane rides. 

I hate medicating myself for any reason so I thought it would be a good idea to drink a small bit of wine to help me go to sleep on my overnight flight. It usually helps at home! However, I have discovered that nothing but medication can make you sleep on an uncomfortable chair in a crowded overnight flight. I had to wait for the wine to wear off before I took a dramamine which did help me sleep. If I hadn’t had that wine, I could have slept sooner. 

4. I wasted money on dinner. 

My flight left at 7:40pm so of course I ate dinner before I left but I get on the plane and viola! they serve us dinner. It was good too! Chicken, rice, fancy cheese, crackers, a roll, small salad, and a snickerdoodle. Why did I spend $15 on a cheesburger in the airport before I boarded? Must find out the times that each flight will serve dinner or lunch or breakfast so that I don’t waste money in the future. (Side note: breakfast wasn’t that amazing…Raspberry yogurt, granola, and dried rasberries, and a berry muffin. I’m a super picky breakfast person but for most this would probably be fine). 


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5. If I fly to London Heathrow and I have a connecting flight then:

  • I make sure my connecting flight has a layover longer than 2 hours. I had to run, literally run, to a bus to take me to a different terminal. My shirt was soaked with sweat. You need more than 2 hours to connect flights in London. 
  • Have your return trip ticket printed. The customs lady gave me a hard time because she wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t secretly stay in England after my Dublin trip. She wasted 10 minutes of my precious time by having me try to access it on my phone, which I couldn’t thanks to spotty wifi. She eventually just let me move on.  

6. Be aware of what you talk about.  

I sat in front of two American girls talking about the Apocalypse and the return of Jesus and the “Chosen” of God. Granted I think religion can be talked about in a very educational manner in public but if I had not understood where they were from I might have thought they were really crazy zealots. Regardless, listening to the convo made me realize that I should always be aware of what I talk about from here on out when I’m in airports.

7. Pay attention to the labels of food and drink.

Although they speak English, it was difficult for me to understand some of the U.K. airport workers at Heathrow because their accents were strong. When I grabbed a carbonated water the worker asked me if I wanted it because it was “sparkling water” or if I really wanted spring water but I didn’t understand what he said even though I said, “What?” like 3 times. “Sparkling water” apparently is carbonate water which I didn’t know. Can you tell how confused I was? I eventually gave up and said yes, of course. I should really read labels better and not be embarrassed to say I can’t understand. I’m sure he would have been nice enough to point out the label for me. Instead I bought something I don’t really like. 

All in all it was a good learning experience traveling to Dublin and not particularly horrible although it was a little stressful and sweaty. I used to think I was a pro at traveling and airports but you can never learn enough!

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