The No Good, Very Bad Travel Day

I’ll start with the good first: All of our checked bags made it from Kaua’i to Baltimore. Our rental car was upgraded at no cost from an intermediate car to a small SUV. Our hotel in Pennsylvania (once we found it) has a very comfortable bed.

Taking off from Lihue – Aloha Oe, Kaua’i!

Almost everything else about our journey from Lihue to Philadelphia was not so good. We knew it was going to be long, but it was also one of those trips where I wondered why I ever considered traveling to be a good thing.

As we neared Lihue on Monday morning, Brett noticed the parking tag for the condo complex was still hanging from the rearview mirror. It was required to be in the car when parked at the complex ($150 if not there), but returned to the room when we departed. Since there wasn’t time to turn around and take it back, a $50 charge will be assessed to us. Not a great way to start the day.

We were very grateful though when we got to the airport that we had gotten such an early start. We were astonished by the number of people there – the security lines snaked out and down the sidewalks! The only other times we’d seen similar lines were at the end of the winter holiday season, but this was a Monday morning in May! Brett dropped me off at the terminal with the suitcases before returning our rental car while I got our bags checked in and then got into the security line, where I learned these crowds were now an everyday occurrence. Let me also just say that I will never travel with that many bags again! Hawaiian Airlines staff were very helpful but it was still overwhelming wrangling four BIG bags to where they needed to be. I had initially attempted to check the bags when I checked in online for our flights but the program kept assessing a fee of $670 for the extra bags which I knew wasn’t correct, so I was glad I waited and paid just $140 at airport, the correct amount. I got a knot in my stomach though when our bags were placed w-a-y off to side for the TSA check, but we were leaving on a later flight and I was told they would get to them as our departure time approached. Then, halfway through our wait in the security line Brett suddenly realized he still had the key fob for our rental car in his pocket (push button start), but he was able to run over and give it to the Budget shuttle driver for return – apparently he was not the first person this has happened to! I hate to think what that would have cost us if he’d discovered that thing any later than he did.

It took us an hour to go through the security line at Lihue. Both of our carry-on bags were pulled for an extra check and the woman pawed through everything in my bag and pulled things out looking for who knows what – it took me quite a while to get everything repacked after she was done (and didn’t find anything). We had a less than an hour at that point until our flight, and $19.64 later we had a bottle of water and a dry turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch, the least expensive food we could find (and after standing in another long line). The flight over to Honolulu was as quick as usual, we were at the gate for our Delta flight in no time, and left Honolulu for Atlanta on time.

The extra comfort seats on our Delta flight were well worth the expense as we had room for everything and room to cross our legs. We were in the middle of the row though so had to climb out over people on the aisle whenever we needed to use the bathroom. Thankfully the people on either side of us stayed masked as we did throughout the flight. The plane was COLD though – both of us wore our jackets the entire time, stayed covered with a blanket, and we still shivered. We each got about 1 1/2 hours of sleep – the woman behind me kicked the entire time; Brett said it was the same for him.

We arrived on time in Atlanta, a little after 6:00 in the morning, for a three hour layover. Delta had fed us right before landing (a surprisingly delicious egg muffin sandwich) so we got some coffee and waited. Our flights always, always seem to be at gates the furthest away from each other, and Atlanta was no exception – getting from our arrival gate to our departure gate we walked nearly a mile! The flight up to Baltimore was easy, just an hour and a half and we slept through most of it. We were thrilled to find all our bags when we got there, but had to pay a ridiculous $6 to rent a cart to carry them out the door to catch the shuttle over to the rental car pick up. After our experience getting a rental car in Lihue we weren’t sure what to expect, but there was no line and the rental agent upgraded us to a Honda CRV at no charge. Getting all of our bags to the car was another adventure but we eventually got them loaded and were on our way.

And then everything fell apart.

Brett, unknown to me, had put together a very convoluted route to Philadelphia in order to avoid the tolls . . . and then he got lost. I had fallen half asleep on the way, and woke up when he started grumbling that he didn’t know where we were. I fired up Google Maps on my phone and discovered we had somehow ended up 65 miles east of Philadelphia, near Lancaster! I got us going the right direction, but our car trip from Baltimore to our hotel ended up taking us over six hours! Our hotel turned out to be in a business park and very difficult to find, which also didn’t help. We were beyond exhausted when we arrived, both somewhat angry with each other but knew that was from being so tired. We eventually got our bags up to our room and fell asleep for 14 hours.

We will see YaYu this afternoon and be more than glad to turn her suitcases over to her. Our first stop today though will be the Whole Foods Market just down the street for some healthy foods we can keep in the room. We’re otherwise going to continue to rest and recover from what turned out to be a ridiculously long (over 36 hours) and difficult travel day. We’re in Pennsylvania, we have our luggage, and the adventure is on!

17 thoughts on “The No Good, Very Bad Travel Day

    1. The luggage all arriving was a miracle – four pieces on three different flights. So far we’re having a great time in Pennsylvania with YaYu – the other girls arrive tomorrow!

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  1. Glad you got there okay. I was thinking about you both the entire time and don’t envy you a bit. Enjoy your visit!

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    1. Thanks Joy – it was a VERY long and exhausting trip but we’re glad to be here. I have a great appreciation now for what the girls have all gone through getting over here for the holidays, etc.

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  2. Oh man, what an ordeal! Some travel days can be brutal, I know from my own experience. Good thing you’ve arrived safely and you have time to rest and recover. Enjoy your stay and the festivities, congrats to YaYu, and looking forward to hearing how it went.

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    1. It really was a very long journey – I don’t remember ever feeling so exhausted. We gave up on visiting anything but YaYu here as we’re just to tired, and two days later are still recovering. The other two girls arrive tomorrow and then the graduation is on Saturday (although thunderstorms are expected). So far all is going very well and we’re so happy to be here.

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  3. I am always up 24 hours straight when I drive four hours to Atlanta to catch a flight to Utah and usually connect in Denver or Las Vegas. Your flight is more than triple mine! I am amazed your luggage arrived with all those plane changes and that y’all were able to drive to Pennsylvania without spending the night in Baltimore to rest after that flight! Y’all are travel warriors! I am the same way about toll roads… lol. I loathe them. Rest and enjoy your girls!

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    1. We were amazed and thrilled to see all our suitcases when we arrived. Getting them all out of baggage claim to the car rental shuttle was an ordeal though, even after renting a cart.

      I sure wish I had looked at the route Brett chose before we set out from Baltimore – I found a much shorter and easier one. He had relied on Google Maps though, and they’re not always the most reliable.

      We’ve been mostly resting since we arrived and feel better each day. On top of the exhaustion from the trip we have also been feeling the effects of jet lag – are bodies are still on Hawaii time.

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  4. Glad to hear you arrived there, but what an ordeal! It seems like I always get stuck sitting in front of someone who kicks the seat the whole time on a long flight. Why do people do that??? I think it’s amazing your bags didn’t get lost with all the changes. Were most people on your flights wearing masks? Enjoy your time with the girls and at the graduation!

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    1. I do not get the kicking either, and there was plenty of room between us (they were also in Comfort+), but that woman kept me awake most of the flight (well, her and the cold).

      We consider it a miracle that all our bags arrived. We handed YaYu’s bags over to her yesterday, thank goodness. I think once it just the two of us and our two bags all will go well again.

      Looking forward to having all the girls together with us tomorrow. We’re going out to dinner to celebrate, and then doing the graduation on Saturday. On Sunday we’re going into Philadelphia with Meiling and WenYu to eat cheesesteak before getting them to the train station!

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  5. All the better to now enjoy what awaits. Adversity, once over, so often sets us up to then enjoy a period of no-adversity. Or, I’ll often revert to, ‘What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger!’ Never in the moment, mind you, LOL.

    I am thrilled for the graduation festivities that await you all!

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    1. Everything going forward should be much easier than this last journey, mainly because our load will be lighter – just us two and our two suitcases instead of the two extra heavy ones we had before. I think we finally found our hotel in PA only because the universe felt sorry for us – we were so exhausted we couldn’t even read a map any more. We will be spending the night in Toronto before our flight down to Mexico which will make that journey easier as well.

      The college is all set up for Saturday’s festivities, but thunderstorms are expected. The graduation is under cover; the garden party that follows is not so not sure what happens if that gets rained out. So excited though to be together with our three girls.

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  6. Yikes. Long lines and big bags and getting lost. Glad you got 14 hours of sleep…I’m sure you both needed it! Those red eye flights out of Hawaii kill me.

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    1. I cannot remember EVER feeling as tired as I did when we arrived on Tuesday – even childbirth was less exhausting than that journey! Red eyes out of Hawaii are awful, but this was miserable. We left Honolulu at 4:00 p.m. and got into Baltimore at 1:00 p.m. the next day on three hours sleep – not ideal conditions for driving anywhere. But, we made it and all is going well and I’m happy to be here to see YaYu graduate!

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  7. I’m so not a fan of long travel days, and I say that having just wrapped up my first international work trip. There is zero appeal for me. I don’t sleep on flights, and miss 2 days sleep for each trip. That plus the jet lag and the logistics, and the stress of transportation, and timelines, etc… nothing appealing about it at all! This time was worse with the COVID test requirements, and some snafus on that end, but I’m back, and it’s done. Until Tokyo in August.

    Glad you made it!

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    1. Up to this trip we had a good system for getting through long days, but there was no way to make this one work, and if it could go wrong, it did. Other than some early departures, our flights to Mexico should be easier and more comfortable. That’s what we’re hoping anyway.

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