Leaving Australia and saying goodbye to my family is always difficult. However, this time I was dreading not only the goodbyes, but also the 5 flight marathon I was facing in order to get back to Nick and the boat.
My flight out of Melbourne was early evening, and I arrived into Adelaide after a painless hour-long flight. One down, four to go! My strategy was to only have carry-on luggage, as I was connecting through JFK and didn’t want to be delayed by waiting for checked-in luggage at the carousel. Plus, I was paranoid that if my luggage missed any of my flights, well, I’d never see it again. I approached the Emirates check in counter and was asked to place my bag on the scales. It weighed 10kg and the lady gently informed me that the maximum was 7kg. This was a problem.
I had carefully packed everything that I’d need for my stop-overs into that bag, and was now being told that it would have to go in the hold. I had no secondary bag, just a little handbag that only fit my kindle, passport, phone and wallet. Luckily my sister had given me a recyclable shopping tote (the type you take to the supermarket) to carry some snacks in, and so I managed to decant my passport, wallet, phone, kindle, laptop, laptop charger, a change of clothes, neck pillow, and toiletries into the shopper, now gaping open with everything liable to fall out. This was not going to do at all.
I checked in my bag, passed through security, and went into full problem-solving mode. Now, I could write a thesis about travelling on long-haul flights and the prospect of two fourteen-hour long flights without my usual travel hacks was a huge concern. First things first: I needed an actual bag. Partly because there was no way I wasn’t going to lose something by carrying around all my things in a bag that didn’t even close properly, and partly because I needed something to prop my feet up on in order to sleep. Usually I pack my carry-on bag specifically to fulfil this purpose: I pack it until it’s full and will therefore provide a good base to rest my feet on, I shove it under the seat in front of me (one reason I never sit in the Exit rows!) and voila, a lovely foot rest. Hello 6 hours sleep!
Happily, the airport luggage shop had one of those bags that fold away into a wallet-sized bundle. I had forgotten to re-pack my plug adaptor, so I bought one of those. I had also forgotten my earplugs- disaster!- so bought two types, just to cover my bases. And then I bought some Fruchocs just to make myself feel better. I was back on track!
I passed through international security and was told by one of the Customs and Immigration security officers, a strapping young man in his 20s, that I had to go to a counter and bypass the usual automated system where you scan your passport, look at a camera that takes your biometric details, and then you pass into the terminal. “Our computer system is a bit… fucked,” he said by way of explanation, to the immediate sniggers of his fellow officers. I couldn’t help but grin. Only in Australia would a professional Customs officer casually drop the F bomb.
The flight was a long-haul flight. They’re all the same. I watched some movies, I slept for a while, I then watched some more movies. I ate bad airplane food. I counted down the hours until we landed. And then it was over.
I had a 22 hour stopover in Dubai and forked out the money to stay in the airport hotel- it’s a rip off, but it’s not like I had many options. Turned out it was money well spent: I arrived into my room at 6am local time, had a quick shower, took a sleeping pill that I’d thankfully remembered to bring with me, and then passed out until 3pm. At this point I got dressed, went to collect my boarding pass, went to one of the airport lounges and ate the free food on offer (it wasn’t bad- had a good selection of hot and cold foods and the little cakes were tasty), then headed back to the room, slept again until 11pm, and then had another shower and packed my things, ready for my second flight.
Landing into JFK, I braced myself for the lengthy process of clearing into the USA and collecting luggage, so imagine my surprise when I was out the other side, reunited with my bag and officially stamped into the US, within less than 30 minutes.
My flight to Fort Lauderdale was 3 hours later, and again, it all went smoothly. I landed into FLL, got a taxi to my AirBnB, and after a bit of confusion about the code to the lock (I had been given the wrong one and had to disturb my host’s Cuban mother who did not speak a word of English, but was very friendly and got me sorted), settled in for the night. I slept a solid 8 hours and woke up the next morning feeling refreshed. As someone who is no stranger to jetlag, this was something of a pleasant surprise.
Back to Fort Lauderdale airport I went, and although my flight to Marsh Harbour was delayed, it was only by half an hour. When I climbed onboard and realised how tiny the plane was, I freaked out just a little, and needless to say I was heartily glad when it landed less than an hour later. Also- I was about to see Nick again for the first time in almost three months.
And that’s where this week’s video picks up!