Topical Tuesday: Travel Tales

Hihi! How’s it going guys? Today, I was given a prompt by a friend who’s been helping me a lot lately when I get in a rut on what to write. I’ve been having some pretty bad signs of ADD showing recently, so my doctor intends to put me on new medication that should do the work of two I’m already on. That’s not what this post is about though- just wanted to update you.

No, today’s post is about travel. As many of you probably know, I went to Arizona back in mid-August to visit my boyfriend. This wasn’t my first time traveling there, or even traveling to Arizona- in fact, I’ve traveled a fair bit in the United States over my life. And today, I’m going to tell you some tips and tales from those times.

The first time I traveled to Arizona, I was twelve years old or so, with some of my extended family. This was a three part trip, starting in Arizona, leading to Nevada, and finishing in California. In Arizona, my most notable memory was melting in the harsh summer heat alongside my cousin. We got ice cream, but it was messy. We were too bored inside where the adults were dealing with selling one of my grandma’s properties, but it was too hot to handle the outdoors. It wasn’t fun, let’s leave it at that.

The more interesting part of the trip, Nevada, was mostly just something to laugh at. You see, in Las Vegas- where we went- kids aren’t allowed on the carpet of hotels because it’s considered part of the casino. As my cousin closer to my age and I were being told to get off, so was my fully adult cousin with her law degree and passed bars. Why? Because she’s shorter than I am, and I’m not all that tall to begin with. She’s so tiny that to this day she still has a kiddish air to her. I couldn’t help but giggle when that happened.

Finally, in California, I was helping my grandparents house-sit for my wealthy aunt and her family while they were on vacation elsewhere. You’d think that house-sitting would be boring, but in my case, I was also cat-sitting… and also learning minor Japanese. To practice cat and flower, as their cat’s name was Daisy, I started calling her Hananeko. After two weeks of that though… Well, it took some adjusting for my aunt and cousins, as she stopped reacting to Daisy altogether! I renamed their cat in my process of practice!

The next story comes from when I was moving in with my youngest aunt for my last year of middle school. Like many trips before, I flew- but it was the first time I was flying alone. During this trip, I learned a lot of things. One, kids can fly alone but have to have a flight attendant keeping an eye on them regularly. And secondly, sitting next to strangers can be not just scary, but annoying.

You see, I was dressed in a long skirt and shirt that day. I was flying from freezing New Jersey in the dead of December, so my normal clothes were usually sweatpants or long skirts or similar things. The guy who sat next to me thought it was a smart idea to ask a kid he’d have to sit next to for five or six hours, “Hey, you’re Jewish right? I can tell by the big nose and the way you’re dressed.”

What I hated was technically speaking, he had been right. I was born into Judaism, but I certainly didn’t practice it. I hardly believed a word of it! I didn’t want to be recognized as ‘Jewish’, because he was making it sound like only Jewish girls wear long skirts. I just like skirts! I find them cozy! What about that means I have to be Jewish!?

I hadn’t traveled much for a decade after that trip, aside from the trip when I moved back home to New Jersey that June. It wasn’t until last year that I took a plane again to visit Arizona- and I learned some interesting things from that trip, along with this year’s. For starter, I learned there are two kinds of ‘Economy’ seating, and different airlines treat ‘Basic Economy’ differently. United does not allow a carry-on for Basic, while American Airlines does- meaning I didn’t have to have a checked bag with them, potentially. I tried it the second trip, and it worked like a charm! Other things went wrong though:

For starters, I required a wheelchair going through the airport. My legs have been getting worse lately- both from lack of exercise and my nerve problems. I still need to get them x-rayed, actually, but that’s a story for another time. It wasn’t bad being brought on a wheelchair to the boarding area. In fact, it was kinda nice to have help getting there.

When I landed, though, I found myself baffled by the layout of Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport. I ended up asking a person that worked at the airport to tell me how to get to where I needed, only to be sent in the wrong direction! I don’t blame them for not getting it right though. That place is a jungle in my opinion. A crowded jungle.

My return trip seemed a bit better. My wheelchair also got me staff members that would come check on me and offer me food, water, or to wheel me to the bathroom. They also were in charge of wheeling me onto the plane- but that’s where something went wrong. See, my plane wasn’t at the gate yet- a plane to Atlanta was. I’d been confused by the boarding display myself, but when I noticed it said Atlanta, I had to stop her.

The reason it bugged me, though, was because she had me show her my boarding pass. It says where I’m going, and I was clearly not going to Atlanta. And she was just happy to push me onto that Atlanta plane if I hadn’t stopped her. I got really lucky with my neighbor that flight though. He was a nice fellow, and helped bring my bags off the plane and out of the gate area for me while I as in my wheelchair! I was in awe.

By the way, both my flights this year were delayed by like an hour to an hour and a half: one because there was a group of 40 Israelis visiting the country as a special program, who were all very bad at the ‘sit down when the sign says to’ concept. The second was because of a bad storm in Newark, which I still felt the strength of when we got there- that rain was horrifying. I got lucky a limo driver offered me a good rate when he saw me struggling to get my bag on the escalator.

So, what did I learn through all of this? A few things:

  1. Sometimes airports are just as confusing to staff as they are to consumers.
  2. When traveling alone, it’s Russian roulette if you’ll get a decent seat neighbor or not.
  3. Sometimes you can believe the weird person who comes up and offers to drive you home.
  4. Don’t do the above without contacting someone that you know will keep an eye out for you in case it’s not a good person driving you home after all.
  5. Kids and disabled adults are treated similarly by staff.
  6. Airplane food has gotten way better.

That’s all I have to say today. Have you been on any trips recently? Do you have any wild or just general stories about your trips you’d like to share? Whether it’s advice for my next flight or a story from your own, I’d love to hear it! Thanks as always, guys!

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Jaluna

A young adult who writes as a way of life, and treats all her characters as her children.

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