This story is broken into two halves, the first is Traveling with your (Girl)friend. The second is Traveling Alone.
These are two very very different things. Traveling with your (girl/boy)friend is like… bringing home base with you. A small little bastion of safety. If you collapse on the ground, you’ll be okay. When you wake up…you’ll be in a hospital. People will have been called. You’ll look around at the concerned faces of people who care about you.
Traveling by yourself? It’s a different experience. When you wake up you’re ..yep that’s still the ground. People will not have been called. People will have gathered. You’ll look around for your wallet (gone) and kidneys (ditto).
So the first 10 days of the trip are TandemTravel and the last 11 are solo.
The first time you do ANYTHING you make a big deal of it, Imagine the divide between the way you felt about sex the first time, and the way you feel about the sex you’ll have next. Yeah. It’s like that. As stated before, this was my first travel. So three weeks before the intentional loss of my travel virginity I was all candles and love trying to do all of the things to guarantee travel success. I called my bank, told them where I was going, got outlet adapters, borrowed a few Rick Steves guides.
My girlfriend was nice enough to buy me compression socks. I didn’t know what they were for, nor why I needed them. Conveniently enough, it’s 2014 so there’s no real need to know pretty much anything. Google says that if you don’t wear compression socks during a flight, there’s an increased chance that you could die.
Nope, no typo there. There are socks that, if you don’t wear them, there’s a greater chance of everything you know ending.
Three ring binders.
Everything… Ending? Consciousness Done? That’s it? Over some socks? I wore them. Google freaked me out so much that it’s surprising that I’m not STILL wearing them. They felt just like regular socks that were a size too small and a fifteen inches too long.
Google says that Wrong-Sock-Plane-Death is mostly a concern for older people. When you see an old person making their way up the aisle for the fifth time, that’s not a casual stretch of the limbs. That’s a low-speed sprint away from the grim reaper’s ever-reaching scythe. Puts a damper on it doesn’t it? I wonder if anyone has told them about the socks.
My biggest travel fear after wrong-sock-plane-death is jet lag. Partially because I don’t 100% understand it, but mostly because everyone that has JUST traveled won’t stop talking about it.
[Author’s Note: I now realize that this is just yet another way to show off that you were just traveling. “Sorry. I’m a bit jetlagged. You know. So much travel.”]
London is a weird amount of time ahead of us, ten hours. That meant that when Big Ben struck midnight, our internal clock would think it was 2pm. Let’s say you wake up at 7am every day, if I said you have to wake up a little bit early tomorrow. How early? Like, say, 10pm tonight… you’d have a situation on your hands.
Rather than wandering the streets like zombies, my girlfriend and I decided that the best defense was a good offense. Our offense: If we just woke up a few minutes earlier each morning, eventually we’d wake up naturally at 4am, and get sleepy at 8pm like old people. Then when we got to London, one morning we’d just have a minor adjustment.
Do you feel like I’ve driven this point into the dirt? Yeah, this is where you get to cry for my girlfriend, who only wishes this had been handled so succinctly.
Being VERY COOL I created an equation to figure it out. And yes, having been out of college for a hot minute, I’m entitled to refer to simple math as CREATING AN EQUATION. In my mind it’s barely one step away from a SOLVING A PROOF.
Need to determine the 10% discount? CREATE AN EQUATION.
Determine sales tax? CREATE AN EQUATION.
Honestly. Which one seems like more of an accomplishment? Which one are you MOST likely to use ever in your life EVER?
I took the number of days before our trip divided by the number of minutes in the two hours we wanted to skip and determined that we needed to wake up 4.28 minutes early every morning for 4 weeks. After a very unhealthy debate we rounded up to 4 minutes, which I would like to state finally for the record is *very* scientifically inaccurate. Losing my travel virginity was exciting, but it’s a miracle that I ever lost any of it.
It’s a good thing I wrote down this sad little equation because it’s really easy NOT to get up 4 minutes early. It’s the easiest thing to not do. Three weeks before the trip we had to revise our adjustment, because we hadn’t woken up even 4 seconds earlier. In fact we were waking up later than usual. No problem, now we’d just wake six minutes early. Two weeks before we needed to wake up nine minutes. One week before the trip we got nervous and actually committed to getting up 17 minutes earlier each day. Though mathematically correct, it’s not early enough to change your internal clock. It is, however, early enough to make life miserable for you and anyone you’ve dragged into this crappy equation. You will have arguments.
We took the redeye because I had a massive fear of the ten hour flight. I’ve never done anything for ten hours. I can barely sleep for ten hours, so the thought of just sitting in a seat for 10 hours made me cringe-y so I thought “What if we just take an 11pm flight, then we’ll be up for a couple of hours, and then just drift to sleep and wake up as we land. It’ll be magical.”
There’s this special voice in my head that I use to say things that are based on a special blend of optimism, naievete, and ignorance. In the moment the voice sounds authoritative and strong. After the moment the voice sounds like Bambi and I just need to start curb-stomping that voice up-front because that voice is almost never right. Basically anytime I say “Well, if we just —“ STOMP.
Virgin Atlantic gives you a little ‘care package’ that gives you the impression you’re in for some real good sleep. Eye mask, ear plugs, and a blanket provide a portable sensory deprivation tank. Toothbrush and toothpaste provide hygeinic support. A pen in case… well I wasn’t totally sure what the pen was for, I’ve never seen someone while away 10 hours by jotting down a few thoughts with a pen. Ken in 17C isn’t going to be composing a little Epic Poetry, you know?
The ten hour flight from LAX to LGW allows you to sleep much in the same way that waterboarding allows you to breathe. I got just enough sleep to feel like someone was doing it *to* me, and spitefully. I was in, then out, then in, then out. It crossed my mind that the pen was there so you could gouge your eyes out when the eye mask slipped off for the third time. I’d groggily come to just long enough to make eye contact with some older person shuffling through the aisle. We’d smile the “Whaddya gonna do, long flights, right?” smile and I’d add an encouraging nod that said and asked “I hope you don’t die, how’re your socks?”
Somehow I slept through every single meal service.
When I woke up next we were landing in London, England.