Saturday, May 28, 2016

Trouble Traveling: The Exceptions and the Rules

Some of my friends call me Grumpy Cat because I can cop an attitude like you wouldn't believe (but underneath it all, I'm still adorable...right!???). Complaining about vacations is just one of the many services I offer, and with three vacations in the past 3 weeks (plus another one to Boston a couple weekends before that), I've had plenty of opportunity to complain...and also plenty of opportunity to be pleasantly surprised!

A good somebody-or-other admits when they're wrong, and I'm going to be that somebody-or-other and take back some of the nasty things about vacations I've said in the past, because on the whole, this series of holidays went relatively smoothly.

For instance: You might not know this, but if you're around me when I'm on vacation, you'll know that I am convinced I have the worst luck with respect to weather. One of my pet peeves is being cold, so naturally when I want to get away from it all, I want to go somewhere where it's warm. But whenever I travel, it always seems to be to a colder climate in the winter (Iceland, anyone?). Or to a warmer climate in the summer (Indonesia, I'm looking at you!). On those rare occasions when I travel to a warm clime while it's still cold in Maryland, it seems to inevitably suffer a cold snap right when I arrive. Or else my home area becomes unseasonably warm right after I leave. But my last two trips debunked this phenomenon—I left for New Orleans when Maryland was on something like its 15th straight day of rain, but the weather in New Orleans was delightful almost the whole time I was there. Meanwhile, the weather in Maryland barely topped "tolerable." The day I returned, the temperatures rose, seemingly just for my benefit, but stayed cloudy and chilly for about a week after that—just in time for my trip to Hawaii. The day I returned from Hawaii, however, the temperatures in Maryland rose into the 80's. Lesson learned: Traveling doesn't always mean the weather is going to suck.

Another thing I've come to expect as a general rule of thumb is that if you bring an umbrella, it won't rain. However, one day in New Orleans, I read the weather forecast for rain and put my umbrella into my bag. And voila! It rained! It actually poured somewhat torrentially. Just goes to show, one can never be too prepared.

Speaking of being prepared, on every trip, there is inevitably something I need that I forgot. It becomes one of the things I hate most about traveling when I'm forced to fork over the big bucks to buy new what I already own...and this vacation, it was kind of a doozy. I forgot to pack any shorts. On a trip to Hawaii! Of all places! (At least I didn't forget my entire suitcase, as another of the wedding guests somehow managed to do). I did have to buy two new pairs of shorts at a sub-optimal price: 7$ and 8$ respectively, but I can't actually be too mad. They fit great, and both provide a somewhat needed addition to my wardrobe, enabling me to get rid of an older pair that I don't much love.

Although I dropped the fashion ball a few times in packing for New Orleans, by the time I got to Hawaii, I'd caught my stride (also having had time to sort through my newest summer clothes helped). Shorts shortage notwithstanding, I only twice regretted my choice of outfit—once when I wore my gym clothes all day in anticipation of a hike that never happened, forcing me to wear the same outfit the following day, and once when a new shirt I'd packed started fraying all over the place and I didn't have anything to cut it with because my pocket knife had bitten the dust the day before I left for New Orleans. Most of the time, I felt proud of what I was wearing, proving that living out of a bag doesn't have to mean looking like a bag lady.

Lastly, flying in an airplane (which I did 4 times over the past 3 weeks—more if you count each connecting flight) turned out to be less of a horrifying experience than I was anticipating. While turbulence still fills my heart with dread and my arteries with adrenaline, I never once felt the urge to shed tears out of terror, as is usually the case. On the way back from Hawaii, I even was able to sleep for most of the 6-hour flight, which is usually unheard-of. For that, I credit 3 weeks of inadequate sleep, plus the assistance of my ReLeaf neck pillow, which I recommend to any traveler who has trouble sleeping sitting up.

There was, however, one yucky thing about traveling that held as true as ever: I got sick. In fact, my body seemed to be so ready to get sick that it didn't even bother to wait until I'd started traveling—I got two illnesses back-to-back the week before I left. I like to think that was my body's way of facing the inevitable and getting it out of the way before it could be too much of an inconvenience—I recovered from both illnesses before I even got on a plane. But that wasn't enough to protect me from my curse. While in New Orleans, I contracted another infection that caused me great pain and forced me to spend my last day in the city alternately crying and visiting the CVS Minute Clinic for some antibiotics. I was going to give you the blow-by-blow of all the illnesses I suffered and all the symptoms, but I decided that might be too much information for polite company. Let it suffice to say that one of the illnesses came with a lost voice that plagued me throughout New Orleans, a sore throat that started in Hawaii, and a cough that followed me through all three trips (the second was Richmond, only a day) and still persists after three weeks—meaning that there was no point during my travels that I was not sick!