Saturday, September 22, 2012

Out in to the Ether: I’m Traveling for How Many Hours/Days?

On Sunday I start my way toward Washington, D.C. before I board a plane to Senegal, West Africa to start my life as a Peace Corps volunteer. Actually if you count the fact that I am actually at my mom’s house in southern Minnesota to visit for a week, the travel has actually already started. Being in limbo and extended traveling isn’t new to me and I actually thoroughly enjoy it, that is with enough planning.
Flight home from South Korea back in 2006

 Rachel is another fellow expat and Minnesotan who has lived abroad in Somalia for a few years now and writes about her adventures, family and life on her blog, Djibouti Jones. I have followed her blog for a few months now pouring over her site looking for packing lists, cultural norms to be wary of and finding out I should prepared to sweat and be dusty, sometimes at the same time.

In a recent trip for her back to Somalia from Minnesota she gave this WONDERFUL list on her traveling tips. I will be using all of them in the hours or days I will be traversing the earth for a while.

Ten Travel Tips
1. Eat whatever you want. Food eaten in airports and on airplanes doesn't have calories.
2. Fly like the American you are (if you are one). This means feel free to carry a large, ugly backpack, wear large, ugly shoes, and large, ugly pants. Whatever it takes to be comfortable for the next 27 hours.
3. Be nice to the airline employees. You will see a lot of them and they know where the extra toilet paper is kept on the plane.
4. Pack your carry-ons so you will only need access to one during the flight.
5. Bring a bottle for water. Even if your husband thinks you won't need it. He will be asking for it somewhere above Europe.
6. Bring reading material you are willing to forget in the seat carrier in front of you.
7. Make sure young children use the bathroom before flight attendants lock you in for the 45 minutes preceding landing. Ditto for yourself.
8. Don't look at your watch or any time-revealing devices. It won't help.
9. Explain to concerned passengers and flight attendants that the pile on the ground beneath your feet is just lumpy carry-ons, not a sleeping child. Even though it is a sleeping child and you are secretly jealous.
10. Remind yourself that a whole new world awaits you. As well as, hopefully, all of your luggage.

From my research I believe the plane trip to Senegal is somewhere around 7 hours, but if you count the total hours I will be on a plan next week it’s closer to 13.  Back in 2006, I traveled to South Korea on a 15-hour flight with a lay over, but nothing could beat the flight back. We left around 10:30 am Friday morning and woke up with the sun that day to see it set and rise again on the plane only to land around 11 am on the same Friday we left. I saw the sun rise and set that day twice and took me a while to get my head wrapped around that for a while after.

Being in limbo, traveling, whatever you call it, is a strange place to be in. Time is not what it is, you make yourself as comfortable as you can, check your patience and calorie counting at the door. They say its not the destination but the journey that matters, same goes with traveling. A little planning goes a long way on making yourself and others comfortable.

I am slowly checking things off my list, writing as much as I can not knowing when I will get the chance again, seeing as many friends as possible, eating all the things I think I would miss and excited to start my new adventure in Africa.

All in all I have been blessed, prayed and chanted for, had a monarch butterfly released in my honor and protection, had guardian angles asked to be my side while traveling, hugged, kissed, drinks bought for, fed well and wished well in SO many wonderful countless ways from friends, family and complete strangers. I can honestly say I'm speechless (and if you know me-that NEVER happens) 
So THANK YOU ALL, the UNIVERSE and all other wonderful things. I'm excited to get on a plane and start seeing more of this wonderful world.

Jones, Rachel Pieh. Marathon Miles: 10 Travel Tips. Rachel Pieh Jones. 2012. Available at: Accessed August 20, 2012.

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