Then in 2014 to early 2015 I traveled to Fiji, Florida, California, and Hawaii.
I still can't believe I went to all those places even as I'm typing it.
In July 2014 I (along with a group of teens and adults from church) went on a missions trip to Fiji- it was awesome, it was amazing, it was inspiring, and it was unforgettable!
In October of 2014 I went to Florida (I live in Washington) to visit family. It was a last-minute trip, and a long day of traveling with 3 connecting flights across the United States.
In November of 2014 I flew to California with 5 others to visit a Christian College. In November in the State of Washington we had snow, in November in the State of California we had sun! It was awesome!
And finally in April of 2015 my family (husband, myself, and 5 kids) flew to Hawaii for a Spring Break vacation. I still can't believe we went to Hawaii, and had the opportunity as a family to live in paradise for a week!
I write this all to tell you that even though I went 12 years without flying anywhere, in this past year I learned so much about what to do and what not to do as far as traveling goes. I learned a ton about packing- what you need and what you really don't need at all. And now I want to share what I learned with you, so if you're like me and need some information on traveling do's and don'ts, then please bookmark this blog. I'll be posting about each trip, and what I specifically learned about foreign travel, short trips, long trips, etc.
I had a blast traveling and can't wait to do it again!
I'm going to start with my trip to Florida first. Even though my trip to Fiji came before my trip to Florida, that trip will take a bit longer to write about so I'll save it for next time.
Florida (that's how I'll refer to each trip- by the state name) came about at the last minute.
My Aunt and Uncle had lived in Florida for 3 years, and in those 3 years my uncle's health deteriorated quite a bit. I was very close to my aunt and uncle, and actually lived with them for part of a summer back in 1995. I got a message from my cousin that my uncle wasn't doing well (she went to stay with them to help out), I talked to her about what was going on and she told me she didn't think he had too long to live. I wasn't sure if this meant he had months, weeks, or days left. We waited a couple days for more information, and during this waiting time I felt the need to go and visit them. The day after I made this decision I talked to my cousin again and I told her I wanted to come out to visit, I asked if she thought I could wait a week and she thought I probably could. But when I spoke to my aunt later that night, my aunt seemed to think his time was close. When I asked if I should come out sooner than a week, she said I probably should.
So that night I booked my flight for 2 days later.
Here's my first travel tip: if it's last minute, prepare to pay the big bucks!
Don't be surprised if you can't find a flight for less than $700 (if you're flying across the country like I was).
The sticker shock hit me like a ton of bricks, but my dear husband didn't bat an eye- knowing how much my aunt and uncle meant to me. He told me not to worry about the money and just GO!
I booked my flight on one of those travel websites, and because I wanted to try and save as much as I could I didn't get a non-stop flight. I got a flight that had the first stop in Colorado, the second in Miami, and the last flew me to Gainesville.
You don't have to do this, but can I tell you it makes a world of difference! When you get off one flight, then your connecting flights/gates are usually all located in the same area. I didn't go from United, to Southwest, to American, etc. I made sure all my flights were with the same airline, this is especially important if you're checking baggage.
Now, don't get me wrong- if you use different airlines it doesn't mean there will be problems- your trip could go off without a hitch. But for me it took some of the stress out of it.
But on the other hand, just because you're sticking with the same airline on all connecting flights doesn't mean you won't have any obstacles. Here's my example: Coming home from Florida I flew from Gainesville, to Miami, and up to Washington DC. The Dulles airport (at least the portion I went to) was under construction and I had to walk (at times at a pretty fast pace) for about 45 minutes (no joke!) to get to my next gate! I'm not sure if this was just how the Dulles airport was laid out, but even though I was using the same airline my two gates were VERY far apart. I had just over an hour layover, and thank goodness there were no delays in my flight to DC because once I got to the gate I had just about 15 minutes left to go to the bathroom and get a pretzel before my next flight was called. I was one big sweaty mess!
Here's my next tip: Be prepared before hand with snacks and water if your airline doesn't provide these.On my trip TO Florida, my connecting flights were just a few hours apart and the layovers gave me enough time to get a bite to eat at the airports. But on my way back to Washington, because of the mad rush to my last gate in Dulles, and trying to stuff a pretzel down my throat as fast as I could (only ate about half of it), I didn't really get prepared for the long flight back.
It was non-stop from Dulles to Portland (about 7 hours), and I was starving by the end. I did get water and a tiny little bag of peanuts on the flight, but that was it. So be prepared to get snacks before hand, or buy a meal on the plane.
I have to admit that before I left for Florida I was nervous to travel across the country by myself. Yes, I was 38 at the time, but I was still a bit nervous. I hadn't flown on my own for years, I had 3 connecting flights, and I was just plain nervous of air travel anyway. But I kept reminding myself that I was adult and I could handle it (that sounds silly I know), and I told myself to just enjoy this experience.
Like I said, I'm not a seasoned air-flyer, but I think these tips will come in handy for a lot of you.
I want to talk about packing for this particular trip, and share things I did as far as packing, and what I would change next time. But that will be in my next post. So please bookmark this and check back soon!