Sunday, February 27, 2011

Flying internationally & keeping your sanity

This is my first international trip (other than cancun which I don't really consider international). So I was definitely anxious & didn't know what to expect. Everyone I talked to had different advice & different experiences. I also knew traveling with food allergies would be difficult and it definitely has been a challenge. It's made me thankful for the places I know & love in Nashville who don't flinch when I tell them about my gluten intolerance.
The journey started a few days before I left with endless lists of things to do & buy in order to make the trip comfortable. I thought at the time I was being excessive & stressing about things I'd laugh about later... But it turns out everything I did, I couldn't have lived without!
• International adapter
• Carry on baggage with a built-in laptop slot (it will single-handedly save your shoulders)
• Swiss army backpack
• The Passport & boarding pass wallet that you wear around your neck.
• My Merrell shoes- for running around the airport comfortably
• My giant ziploc bag of snacks- natural beef jerky, raw trail mix, natural fruit snacks, Pure & Organic Gf brownie bars & last but not least, Lara bars
• Nyquil - for sleeping on the plane
• Eyemask
• Inflatable travel pillow
• Earplugs
• Elastic Hair bands
• the iCall app- allows you to make international calls with wifi for only 1-2 cents per minute!

That's quite the list huh? Well I'm off traveling for three weeks & will have endured (I mean enjoyed ;) 6 different flights by the end of it all so everything on this list is saving my life.
I started with a flight from Nashville to Chicago which was less than stellar in a tiny jet which seemed
like it's purpose was to make me use the paper bag tucked in the seat in front of me. The flight attendant was rude & I was thankful it only lasted an hour & a half! Once in Chicago, O'Hare airport was great, much better than Midway in my opinion. When I exited the gate, I was blown away to see a food kiosk with a banner outside advertising gluten free foods!! I was so excited that I spent almost $30 stocking up on gf foods like caprese salad, waldorf salad, Nana's gf cookies & baked kettle chips for my next 15 hour flight. I knew I wouldn't have a gf meal on United because I was flying on a standby companion pass so this was a great find!! If you do ever fly United internationally though, you are able to specify a medical, gf meal! Do that once at the time of reservations, call later to confirm & also let the gate attendant know before you board the plane. The gate attendant or a flight attendant can confirm that the galley catering delivered the meal to them.
The 15 hour flight was loooong..... So long... There were no power plugs, no tv's in the seat & no Internet so I did a lot of sleeping (well, trying) & reading. There was a large screen every hundred seats or so playing a movie or tv show that you could watch. I finally got to see Morning Glory, Wall Street 2 & watched The Social Network again.
I cannot describe how happy I was to get off the plane & head to baggage claim. That was, until I realized my passport wallet was nowhere to be found ;) needless to say I was panicking & near tears for about 10 minutes until the awesome Hong Kong International gate service crew went scouring the plane & found that somehow it had gotten kicked a few rows over. So after those tears were diverted, I was more ready than ever to see my husband & let his arms around me melt all the travel weary stress away!
I made my way to baggage claim & only saw my duffle bag... not my main suitcase. I walked over to the baggage attendant, gave him my bag claim ticket, and he said - ok- call this number tomorrow. No offer to track the bag, see if it was scanned in Chicago at all, nothing. So I called my husband & thought - ok, they'll find it... I just wanna hug & kiss my husband! I reach him & find out that every train he's taken has been late & he wont be there for 20 more minutes. So sad... But ok, I've waited 7 weeks to see him so 20 minutes is ok!
Surely enough- when I saw him walk into the arrival department, I got what we call the perma-grin & almost dropped my bags in a movie-esc way to get to him! All was finally right with the trip & we headed back to HK/Tuen Mun.
Whew! If you've actually read this far... Congrats & thanks- you must be my mom ;) (j/k mom ;)
Much more to come!!!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

1 comment:

  1. What a lovely reunion! And I had no idea about O'Hare. What a great score! I hope you are your luggage are reunited soon, especially if you have your gf staples there!