I have been planning to take a trip to Europe ever since I can remember, and it finally become a reality this October 1st. This was the day my study abroad journey began. The days before the journey were smooth sailing as I packed everything I thought I would need. The most import piece of my luggage included my bike carefully taken apart and separated into a frame and wheel bag. Two days before my departure I had set aside a night to disassemble the bike. I am not bike smart by any means; I typically learn as I go. If you fall into this category reserve a night for disassembly. The Hen House bags I was using were special ordered from a bike company based out of Des Moines, called Ruster Sports. If you YouTube Bike disassemble Hen House bags, a lovely tutorial will come showing you step by step directions. If you your impatient like me you might take a look at everything required to be taken apart and dive right in….
WRONG…the steps are specifically set up in order for easy disassemble.
Always document even the small things
SOOOO upon hearing this I uttered every word in my vocabulary (in my head of course), then did the only reasonable thing and opened up my other suitcases which were under limit. I then began shifting weight between the bags. I made a calculated guess as to the approximate weight and dragged the bags back through for round number two. This time the bags were under the weight limit…WHEW, I thought I’m done.
Quite a few hours later I had successfully taken the bike apart shoving it carefully into the bike bag with numerous other amounts of shit. Fun tip…so you can shove whatever else needed into the bag; it actually has quite a bit of extra room. Just make sure its wrapped as the grease will surely stain. Also, keep running tabs on the weight of the bag if your over 60 lbs by a tiny bit you will be charged another huge chunk of $$$$ at least for international flights. If your a college student and a cyclist your most likely broke…
BUT WAIT….the lady went on to hassle me with questions of whether the bag contained a bike or musical instruments. I of course went on to explain to the lady that I had pieces of art work and other odds and ends in the bag. The lady gave me quite a stare before begrudgingly saying ok.
WAIT… your not done fellow bike enthusiast; you then have to drag the bags over to over-sized luggage for further interrogation. If you like quick changing flats like me your probably have air cartridges contained within the case. Just remember your only allowed two cartridges depending on which airline you fly with. A hard lesson I learned on the journey back to the States which I will eventually discuss.
Flying internationally with three checked bags the tally ended up being around $300 dollars. At this point I am wondering why I bought the $400 dollar Hen House bag if I was going to fly internationally rather than just shipping the bike in a bike box via Bike Flights which would have been around $250. Despite the hassle I do think the Hen House bag was worth it. If you were to go light and forgo the suitcase full of clothes and just take a carry on and one personal item the cost of flying internationally would only be $100 dollars. The first bag free and the second part of the bike bag costing you the extra $100 dollars. However this being the first time flying internationally I had failed to think through this scenario. A lesson I will learn on my return flight which will cost me another chunk of $$$$$$.
Right OK I have officially made it through luggage check and have almost made my way through the security checkpoint…Not before I was securely patted down by a somewhat unhappy security guard. Unless you are rather unlucky or happen to have a tiny screws in your wrist from a unfortunate snowboarding accident which sets off the scanner sometimes; you should be able to avoid this incident.
OOOK so I finally make it through and am seated within the waiting area. As my boarding time approaches I unfortunately hear my flight number come across the loudspeaker ‘ Flight blah blah blah will be delayed for maintenance reasons’ oh TERRIFFIC. Another two hours goes by then the boarding begins to take place. This is when you sigh with relief…WRONG. Once we are all securely fastened in the lovely flight attendant regrets to inform us that the flight will be canceled and we will be scheduled on another flight leaving in a couple hours. My journey hasn’t even began and it appears to be riddled with problems.
Hours later I am again securely fastened ready for takeoff situated next to a lovely gentlemen from Scotland who offers me some hard alcohol which he claims tremendously helps with flight nausea. Had I not been severally nausea anticipating my flight connection which had been at 5 hours in New Jersey dwindle down to a mere 10 minutes; I might have taken him up on the offer. Upon conversating with the gentleman it appears that I have to make it from terminal A to terminal C all within 10 minutes…at this point I am EMOTIONALLY WRECKED.
If I miss this connection…
I will miss my flight to UK
Which causes me to miss my shuttle pick up from the airport to the university
Additionally causing further shit to be messed up
Add these problems onto a already stressful 23 year old and it makes for one stressed out girl. I give myself a small pep talk and as soon as I get the green light i am furiously running off the flight with my backpack and carry on in hand. You can imagine I looked quite funny…the back pack is jumping up and down on my back while the heavily stuffed suitcase is thudding into my shin causing my running stride to be quite fcked up. We have all seen these people running looking kind of foolish and laughed right…well until you have experienced it…its not as funny as you would imagine. Please resist the urge to laugh next time you see one of these unfortunate souls.
After numerous twists turns I arrive just as the shuttle bus is about to depart to terminal C. Whew momentarily I can relax. What seemed like hours later I arrive at terminal C to find out my flight gate is basically situated on the opposite end LOVELY. I continue the run looking a little less of a train wreck as the suitcase rolls behind. Right as the final boarding call rings out I come sweating in just in the nick of time. Now fellow travelers here is a crucial tidbit of information always carry deodorant in your carry on luggage in cases of rare occurrences like mine. Your fellow mates situated beside for you for 7 long hours might not appreciate your recent hard efforts.
Now I can finally relax I am flight bound for the Manchester, United Kingdom.
WRONG…Thoughts of whether or not my most prized possession made the flight continue to tease my mind for the entire 7 hour flight. Any shut eye that could possible come my way would most certainly evaded me…
TO BE CONTINUED…