Adventures in first time traveler mistakes AKA a series of “oh shit” moments


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Such a dramatic Title!

I remember gearing up for my first solo trip abroad. I had selected Australia because I figured an English speaking country was a great baby-step into the shallow end of the travel pool.

Woohoo first view of my upcoming adventure.

Woohoo first view of my upcoming adventure.

I actually wasn’t nervous at ALL leading up to the trip. I was so excited to disconnect from my LA life- except for facebook, instagram, twitter, skype, and email – and experience my first adventure. I was even smart enough to get a SIM card ahead of time to make sure I could disconnect in the most connected way possible…ah city girl problems.

After touching down in Brisbane (pronounced briz-been which was news to me) and checking my watch- which I smartly set to Australia time ahead of time-I felt safe having 2 hours to get on my next flight to Cairns (Pronounced Caans).

Some fun new monopoly money

Some fun new monopoly money

Mistake number 1 note to self: When flying from your home country to your destination country, with a layover in said destination country, give yourself time to de-plane and go through customs and immigration, dipshit.

So 20 minutes to de-plane, 20 minutes getting my bag (because I was going to go through customs), 45 minutes to deal with customs and immigration and 15 minutes in-line to check in to my new flight gave me 20 minutes to make it through security and onto my plane. No problem, I’m a fast runner. “I’m sorry Miss, we close luggage check-in 45 minutes before departure, you’ll have to get on the next one in 4 hours”. Oh man, no matter how charming the accent is that delivers this news, it’s never not immediately panic inducing.

Mistake number 2 note to self: Also take into consideration the checked baggage cutoff’s on most airlines, dipshit.

Fun plane snack. Gone are the peanuts and pretzels of the US.

Fun plane snack. Gone are the peanuts and pretzels of the US.

So I did what any other rational, fiercely independent, mostly adult, adventurous solo-traveler would do. Oh, you think I’m going to say relax and have a drink and meal? haha heavens no. I whipped out my iPhone prepared to have a completely stage 5, code red melt down to my Mommy back in the states. I power that bad boy on; 20% battery, that’s alright, it’ll just have to be a quick meltdown. I punch in the special code to activate the SIM card that so smartly purchased ahead of time, and watch my screen switch from “searching network” to “no service”. WHAT?! After several frantic retries, I’d realized Mr, Jobs had clearly sold me a defective iPhone, that Verizon wireless (my wireless provider) had not properly unlocked, on which a clearly broken SIM card was used.

Mistake number 3 note to self: If you’re “smart” enough to buy your SIM card ahead of time. Be smart enough to test it out, dipshit.

There’s wifi at Brisbaine airport you say? Please see above mentioned 20% battery comment. You don’t think I was smart enough to pack my cell phone charger in a carry-on do you?

Mistake note to self number 4: Put your chargers in your carry-on luggage, I would call you a dipshit but you clearly don’t have the mental capacity to comprehend what that means at this point.

Could I call my wireless provider to help me sort out the situation from a pay phone? Sure, If in addition to writing down the number I knew what codes to use to dial into my own country. (if only, there was a way for me to figure out this dilemma, like I don’t know ASKING ANYONE IN THE AIRPORT FOR HELP)

So my situation was clear. I was no longer in a land of charming accents in the safety of an airport. I had 4 hours to survive in a foreign land with no method of contact to the outside world. I was going to get kidnapped, sold into sex slavery, and never be seen or heard from again. Also, my organs would be harvested, I would be tortured for foreign “intelligence” by the Australian version of Al Qaeda, and be seen as a traitor to my country.

Mistake number 5 note to self: This is the most important mistake of all. Do not – I repeat DO NOT- under any goddam circumstance, watch TAKEN right before your first fucking trip BY YOURSELF to a foreign country.

Luckily, in the end, I was able to power up my kindle, jump onto wifi, and safely let family and friends know that I was ok, and about 4 hours behind schedule. I also did survive the 4 hours in the airport of death, without any traumatizing experiences other than a few friendly smiles from strangers (this doesn’t happen in LA). However, I did learn a lesson in being more intelligent in my forward planning; and conversely, preparing for, and being calm in the event that things go awry – and oh man, will things go awry. So begins my first solo-journey abroad.

Safe and sound in Cairns

Safe and sound in Cairns, I can get used to this.