To fully appreciate these tales, you probably need just a little background. First, the TRIP was a sixteen day European adventure with my 70-year-old mother. Before you think that must mean a 70-year-old pace for the trip, you should understand that my mom is pretty sassy for her age. She walks a mile on a treadmill pretty much every day, zips around the lake on her jetski with her Flying Aqua Babes buddies, and travels cross-country in an RV at least a few months out of the year. This was her third major trip within six months to include cruising across the Atlantic and hiking to the top of Alhambra.
Regardless of all that, we learned some valuable lessons along the way:
1) Always request handicap assistance when changing airplanes. OK, I'm not talking to you 20-somethings out there that can sprint through the airport carrying your 49.5 pound luggage. But for those of us who have celebrated a birthday that involved black balloons and signs reading "Over the Hill" - don't be embarrassed, just do it! The connection at Logan Airport alone would have taken us the entire five hour layover to get from one terminal to the next if we hadn't had a gent wheeling mom along at light speed. (Thankfully, she held on to both our carry on bags and I walked on the people-mover or I wouldn't have been able to keep up with him.)
2) If you're flying for more than 4 hours, fly first class. No, we didn't do this, but I made Mom promise that if she ever does this again she will - I don't care what the cost difference, when you have two titanium knees, having to wedge yourself into that tiny space for that long should be against the law. Nevermind if you have someone trying to climb over you or if you have to climb over someone.
3) Heathrow is not an airport, it's an air-tropolis. The distance from Terminal 4 to Terminal 5 is further than the distance across the city of Raleigh I'm pretty sure. Oh, and if you're connecting through Heathrow, you definitely want to print out your boarding passes for your connecting flight before you leave home, so you can check your bags through to your final destination because if you have to get your bags, go through customs and re-check your bags again, you better have a week to spend at the airport.
4) When booking travel, try to keep the sum total of all hours in an airplane or airport under 24. We managed this, just barely, and I really think if we had another two hours in a plane, there might have been an incident involving airline security. Not mentioning any names, I'm just sayin'.
5) Check the size of the aircraft you will be flying on when crossing a large body of water, like, say, an OCEAN. I've flown overseas before...always had two aisles with a couple seats on the sides and 4-5 seats in the middle - this was 3 seats on either side of a single aisle....and when the air got rough, it was like riding the Dominator at Kings Dominion - only no big restraining bar to hold on to. And the people around us didn't appreciate me screaming and raising my hands over my head.
6) Upon arrival at your final destination, do NOT let your 19-year-old daughter convince you to save a buck by taking public transportation, as in, "We take the bus to the Metro station, and the Metro to the tram stop, and the tram lets us off just a block from the hostel." This is where the incident almost occurred...fortunately, she saw the dangerous glint in our eyes and agreed to a taxi before we had to resort to extreme measures.
And we learned all of that just on Day 1! More Tales from the TRIP to follow....