Monthly Archives: August 2015

What’s in my carry-on?

I love flying.  I have no idea why.  I think it’s something I’ve picked up from my dad, who has always been obsessed with planes and was even working towards his private pilot’s license at one point.  Of course, he’s much more knowledgeable about them than I am – I might as well call them “Big Metal Birds With Non-Flappy Wings Way, Way Up In the Sky” for all I know about them.  Despite my lack of any workable knowledge, I’ve always enjoyed flying and gaining any new knowledge about planes.

But at the same time… flying can be a bit of a headache these days.  Tiny seats, crying babies, packets of tiny pretzels.  If you’re prepared, though, you can ease your way a little.  Here’s what I do to make the flying experience as stress-free as possible.

  1. The Outfit

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The biggest rookie mistake when it comes to flying is the clothing you wear.  You want to wear shoes that are easy to take on and off, both for the security check and the plane (do the rest of us a favor and only take off your shoes on the plane if your feet don’t reek, please).  Wear stretchy clothes: small seats feel restricting to begin with; don’t further constrict yourself with tight, confining pants and shirts.  Layer: the temperature on a plane can vary greatly during a trip, no matter the time of year, and you never know if the air vent will be easily accessible.

2. Noise-reducing headphones

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Bose headphones, $299

Poor babies.  No one told them flying would be so difficult, and then add to that the fact that their ears are popping and they have no idea why.  Still, when you’re on an 8-hour overnight flight crossing several time zones, chances are you’re going to need to sleep.  Since glaring at the poor mother trying to comfort her crying baby won’t do you (or the baby) any good, a good pair of noise-reducing headphones will help block out some of the noise and get you some rest.

3. Entertainment

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Kindle, $79

This is the one part I’m always tempted to over-do and I have to scale back.  I remember taking a flight in the early 2000’s (back in the day before iPod’s, Kindle’s, and smart phones) and my backpack was jam-packed with books, my CD player, and various notebooks for writing.  Now everything fits in one or two small devices.  I just have my phone (loaded with movies, TV shows, and radio shows) and my Kindle with a nice little cross-section of books, since I never know what I’ll be in the mood for.  That’s pretty much all you need.

4. Toiletries

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Burt’s Bees moisturizer, $12.19

Airplane air is DRY.  Maybe I’ve lived in Florida too long, but the minute I step foot on a plane I can feel the moisture being sucked from my skin.  Since dry skin is one of my fastest ways to discomfort, I always make sure to bring a face moisturizer and a water bottle.  Make sure the moisturizer is a TSA-approved size and that the water bottle is completely empty before you go through security.

5. Portable phone charger

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Sentey phone charger, $34.99

My phone’s battery can be erratic, so it’s been known to take me by complete surprise when it dies.  I bring along a portable battery pack for my phone just in case this happens.  That way, I don’t land and discover I have no battery to find my ride or let people know I’ve landed safely.

That’s all it takes!  Those five things can keep me happy on a flight for any length of time.  I hope this helps you ease your way too!

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Thanks for the Memories

In less than two weeks, I’ll board a plane heading for England.

That thought is finally starting to seem real to me.

Yesterday was my last day of work.  Although it seems hard to believe, I’m really going to miss working there.  I got to work with some amazing people.  It’s hard to elaborate just how much each person meant to me, but what I can say is:

Oh my God, thank you for the support.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  It hasn’t been easy for me – I can only imagine how it’s been for you guys, day in, day out, listening to me go on and on about homestays and visas and student loans and radio comedy.  But you did, and never once did your eyes glaze over.  That’s meant more to me than I could ever truly express.

XOXOXO Eileen

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Livin’ La Visa Loca

Oh my God, I did it.  I finally got my visa.  That was the last official thing I needed to do before I left and now – it’s done.  I’m in the home stretch.  This is my last week at work, then two weeks later I LEAVE.  On a PLANE.  To live in ENGLAND.

Lest you think applying for a visa is lollipops and raindrops, allow me to take you through some of the high points of my application process.

  • After months of being reassured that my CAS would arrive in time and I had nothing to worry about, I only received my CAS after hounding all interested parties for over a week.  Yes, I have turned into that woman.  I’m sure a few memos have already been sent around the school warning administrators about me.
  • The online visa form turned out to be a lot harder than it looked, especially if you get anally pedantic when under stress like *ahem* some people I know.  Also, I tried to submit it five times before I realized I had forgotten to put the school’s phone number in one field.  You can only imagine the panic that ensued until I worked that out.
  • I went to my biometric screening under the impression that I would be submitting my application then and there.  So of course I took every single piece of paperwork I had associated with the application.  I only ended up showing my passport and the first few pages of the application.  Then they took my picture, got my fingerprints, stamped my application, and I was done.  It turns out you have to submit the actual application by mail yourself. (I would recommend taking all of your paperwork, anyway, just in case.)
  • Call me ignorant (please don’t, I’m very fragile) but it never occurred to me that I would have to send in my actual passport as well as originals of all of my paperwork.  I made multiple copies of everything I sent in so they had a copy to keep and I had a copy in case something happened to the originals.
  • I genuinely doubted my application would be approved.  Not because of the sordid past I’ve hid from all 3 readers of this blog, but because I was afraid I filled in the form wrong.

At least the parade of frustrating online paperwork has subsided (momentarily).