11.20.2014

Ramping Up for International Travel

I have been remarkably calm about my imminent trip to Australia with my extended family for a fortnight or so.

A good part of the reason I haven’t been stressing is that most of the planning of the trip was handled by my folks and sister, with the aid of a fairly competent and responsive travel agent. I had kind of forgotten that travel agents still existed, what with all the online travel options now, like Travelocity and Expedia and Bill Shatner’s Priceline. As a completely unrelated aside, the members of EDDIE ATE DYNAMITE were enjoying Shatner’s album, “Has Been,” after band practice last night when we went out for a bite to eat.

I may have to incorporate travel agency back into my life when I travel in the future. It might cost a little bit more, but the convenience is priceless.

Tonight I have no band practice or other responsibilities, so I am going to pack for the trip. The only preparation I have done thus far is to find my passports (I have dual citizenship – Australia and USA), arrange airport transportation, and sequester my good friend Sherry for dog and house sitting while I am gone. Tonight, I’ll pack some essentials – appropriate clothing for late spring in the southern hemisphere, ample changes of undies, journals for writing, some good books. I’ll leave room in my suitcase for anything I may acquire on my travels, but I don’t expect to be bringing back much in the way of souvenirs. The extra space might come in handy when I arrive down under and need to ditch my winter coat, which has been getting more regular use in Wisconsin, thanks to the Polar Vortex.

By getting most of my packing done tonight, I will be able to have a more relaxed Friday night before my Saturday morning flight from Madison to L.A. via Chicago. Sherry is going to come over and load in a few things for her house sitting stay, and I’ll make us dinner to use up the remaining perishables in my refrigerator. Then we are going out to a rock-n-roll show on Friday night for a couple of hours (SUNSPOT is headlining, but we may only get to hear the opening bands...). Both of us need to get a fairly early night (~11 PM). On Saturday morning, I will drive my car to Sherry’s apartment complex on the east side of town, where I will park my Prius in her secure underground parking spot while I am gone, after which she will take me to the airport, not far from her place. That way she can use my garage while she is house sitting for me. I will leave her my car keys too, in case she needs to move my car for any reason or start it up once in a while to ensure the battery has not gone dead.

Then I am off on a marathon journey of thousands of miles of air travel. If all goes well, and I am well rested, I should be able to pound out the 36 hours of travel without too many side effects. I leave Madison WI about 10 AM and get to L.A. about 6:30 PM. Then I board a Qantas jumbo jet of some sort around 10 PM and take a 16 hour flight through a “perpetual night” across the Pacific Ocean, during which Sunday “disappears” as we cross the International Date Line, and we land in Melbourne, Australia on Monday morning, about 9:40 AM.

I am somewhat dreading the overseas flight. It is not because I fear flying. Flying is actually one of the safest things on Earth (you are statistically more likely to die in your own home). It is just being cooped up in a metal cigar for such a long time in my own “filth” and breathing the filtered filth of others.

The up side is that the night flight is long. Very long. I will have Benadryl, earplugs, and a neck support pillow to assist me in sleeping. I’ll also have an aisle seat, which will prevent claustrophobia (although I will have to get up whenever my seat mates need to whiz or stretch). My sister and niece and nephew are allegedly sitting near me on the plane, so if I can dig it up, I will probably bring a travel cribbage board and a deck of cards in case someone wants to play. Then I also have journaling and book reading to numb my mind into a sleep-conducive daze.

I never sleep well on planes. But I should get decent quantity of sleep if not quality, just due to the sheer length of time I will be on the plane.

Once in Australia, there won't be too many stressors, other than occasional family dynamics and drama. Unavoidable, but hopefully everyone is on the same page of wanting to have a good time, especially for my niece and nephew who have never been to Australia. It will be quite a learning experience for them, if they are old enough to appreciate it. I may have to get used to driving on the "wrong" side of the road when we drive places, but that shouldn't aggravate me too much, as long as I get to share this duty with my pops and sister.

I’ll be travel blogging my trip on this site with journal entries, pictures, and videos, when wifi is available. If you care to follow along vicariously, bookmark this page, or better yet SUBSCRIBE (enter email upper right) and get pinged whenever I post.

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