Well here I am, one week into my multi-month world travels. I’m sitting in an ultra-hip Paris hostel eating strawberries I purchased from a nearby greengrocer and a café allongé (French americano). I’ve seen every piece of artwork this side of the Pyrenees, I’ve climbed the Arc de Triomphe and floated down the Siene. I’ve had a simply magnificent experience in this grand and exquisite city. But it didn’t start out this way, dear readers, oh no. My first few days in the City of Light were rocky indeed. But to be a traveler, one must encounter hardship, overcome it, and venture forward having learned from the lessons those hardships have taught. Here now are the first three lessons I have learned during my travels:
Lesson 1: It’s Really Hard to Sleep on an Airplane
I have trouble sleeping in a sitting position in the best of circumstances, so to force myself to be as sleepy as possible for the 7-hour connection flight from Seattle to Iceland I stayed up the entire night beforehand. I also took some NyQuil and brought a sleep mask and earplugs. Sounds like a good plan, right? You know the one thing in life that completely destroys all plans? A baby. A fucking baby. A screaming fucking baby seated next to you on a 7 hour flight that wails the entire time. That’s not hyperbole, folks. 7 straight hours of yowling at an ice-pick-in-the-brain pitch that permeates even the most dense earplugs. So my grand plan for sleeping through the 7 hour flight turned into more of a doze-for-30-minute-intervals-while-baby-screeches-invade-your-subconscious kind of flight. So I guess the takeaway is to expect not to sleep on the plane and plan your post-landing itinerary to make up for it.
Lesson 2: You Can Drop Your Luggage Off at Your Hostel Before You Check In
I landed in Paris via Iceland at around 6:30am. When I booked the flight I figured arriving at 6:30 would be great because I would have plenty of time to find my way out of the airport and to my hostel, which it did. However my hostel check-in wasn’t until 4:00. What I didn’t know at the time is most hostels will let you drop off your luggage anytime even if they don’t allow check-in until later. Not realizing this, I was left toting a large and cumbersome 50-pound backpack with about 12 hours to kill while fighting jet-lag and general exhaustion. I ended up wandering around Montmartre catching 30 minute catnaps on park benches like a vagrant. Had I known I could dump my pack, I would have done so and at least been able to enter a cafe unencumbered and put some food into my belly.
Lesson 3: Being Nervous is a Waste of Time
During the period between when my plane took off in Seattle and I awoke from my jet-lagged stupor in the hostel two days later, I may have neglected to eat anything. This happened because I didn’t want to buy over-priced airport and/or tourist food, and I was too nervous to interact with people in another language at cafés and markets. Stupid, right? When I finally purchased a simple ham-and-butter baguette sandwich at the bistro next to the hostel, well, let’s just say my stomach took extreme umbrage to the idea and sent me running to the bistro toilette. I did this to myself. One thing you learn really quickly when traveling is to get over your hangups about being embarrassed and looking stupid, because ain’t nobody got time for that and you’ve got things to do. So pull on your big girl panties, get over it, and get going.
Packed on My Back
Osprey Ariel 65 Backpack I didn’t actually buy this pack specifically for this...