Thursday, November 4, 2010

Traveling Tips and Woes

I left on a 2:30 in the morning flight, which is, I'm convinced, the very best way to travel from the Middle East.

First of all, you're exhausted. You've been up all day, getting in all the hours with your friends that you can, and the weight of all the pre-leaving stress is upon your shoulders. You've just made it through all the tough, tearful goodbyes because, quite frankly, all you want to do is leave these people and get it over with so you can finally go to bed. If you can make it through the maddening stupidity that is in every airport across the globe at this point without strangling someone or falling asleep standing up, you are golden.

(I nearly slugged a security guard on the way to my gate for trying to take away my water. Why have airlines suddenly declared war on water, btw? I was in Turkey, flying to Albania, and the guy took away my water bottle that I had gotten in the airport with a receipt to prove it. He totally ignored the three large bottles of hair products in my suitcase. None of them looked suspicious. But that unopened water bottle you have a receipt for! Trash that at once, you terrorist! It was the same in the Amman airport. I looked carefully at my gate and observed that there was nowhere to buy water before you get on the plane once you are through the gate security. So I bought a bottle of water AFTER I got through the main security and made sure I kept my receipt on me. I get through the gate security even, but one on the other side, the individuals manually searching the bags tried to throw it away. It took a good deal of yelling and a sobbing fit to get my water bottle on the plane. I was dehydrated from all the crying, damnit! And they tell you to "drink lots of water!" and "stay hydrated!" when you are on the plane. Well how the bloody hell are we supposed to do that anymore? It isn't enough that we can't take our own bottles of water and have to buy them at exorbitant prices in the airport. Now they are taking away bottles we buy in the airport. Wow, good thing water isn't a precious natural resource or anything. Whew. Ahem. Apologies for the war-on-water rant.)

Once on the plane, pop your Ambian over dinner and you will CRASH for six hours. Mercifully, you will also make it to America and be relatively cheery for the remainder of your travels, which helps a lot when dealing with the turmoil of international travel.

The other thing I would recommend not doing (besides possibly not fist fighting over a water bottle) is traveling with three rolling suitcases as checked luggage and one small rolling suitcase as your carry-on. And a backpack and purse as carry-ons two and three.

Shockingly, it is actually impossible to pull four rolling suitcases at the same time. It was news to me, but I only had two hands with which to pull the luggage. I get out of the taxi at the Amman airport. The driver conscientiously hauls the bags out of the truck for me and sets them on the curb. And then takes off, possibly laughing hysterically at my attempts to pick up four bags at once, three of which weigh just less than 50 pounds each. I finally had to enlist the help of two flight attendants, who graciously pulled two of my bags over to the cart stand while I hauled the other two.

Don't even get me started on small overhead luggage bins.

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