So this is it. Our last update from here in the States. As this entry posts, my wife and I are boarding our first plane to the lands of limited English and limited English muffins. As we depart, we thought we’d throw the kitchen sink of our travel plans at you in one final nonsensical hodgepodge of America-ness.
We can’t recommend this one enough (because it makes us feel popular). Even if you’ve hated the blog posts up until now, we guarantee you’ll love the ones upcoming, or we’ll give you your money back. So far, it’s been easy – every Sunday night you were guaranteed a mildly entertaining post about nothing. However, as is evidenced by the last three random posts, our musings will begin to come at you all willy-nilly, so we highly recommend that you subscribe to our blog if you want to stay up-to-date (subscription links are at the top right of our site). If you don’t use Google Reader or any other RSS feeder (or have no idea what RSS is), then you can subscribe by email and have our posts delivered straight to your electronic door! I’m not 100% sure, but I think if you use this option, you’ll never have to visit our site again. (That sounds good, doesn’t it?)
[Editor's note: if you haven't yet subscribed and missed my wife's post from yesterday, I encourage you to read it - I myself enjoyed it thoroughly.]
Through the magic of the internet, we have discovered that we can schedule our blog posts to appear in the future – this is a technique we will be using often throughout our trip. We have been told that we will have access to the internet every few days while on the safari, and we plan to make use of it. We will continue to write our posts every day, then when we get to an internet spot, we will post everything we have written. However, so as not to bombard you with a bunch of posts at once, we will time delay them to post once a day. After our first few days without any communication, our goal will be to start feeding you our travel propoganda daily after that.
A quick story for you future world travelers about our RTW ticket. Zhou and I had booked all our flights at the beginning of this year, but because some flights were so far away, tickets for them didn’t exist yet. Therefore every month or so we have been calling American Airlines to book our tickets as the flights became available.
After the latest round of flight booking, we were sent a schedule confirming all our flights again. Here’s what we learned: REVIEW EVERY DETAIL IN THE SCHEDULE. As we were going through flight by flight, we noticed that we were three flights short. Somehow, they had de-booked us from our three Qantas flights in the middle of the trip. As it turned out, while we booked our flights through American Airlines, the representative we spoke to at American had failed to properly notify Qantas of our bookings. A worker at Qantas then saw two people without ticket numbers with seats reserved on these three flights, and he deleted them from the system and apparently didn’t tell anyone.
This wouldn’t have been a huge problem, because we could normally just call to explain the error and then rebook the tickets. However, the second of the three Qantas flights was a very crowded one from Auckland, New Zealand to Santiago, Chile. We had booked this ticket over a year in advance, but even when we did so this daily flight was booked to capacity for almost every day we wanted it. We ended up getting on the March 2nd flight, but even at the time there was nothing else available ten days in either direction. We had then went on to plan a good portion of our trip around this anchor date. This flight could not be changed.
Zhou spent a long time on the phone with an AA representive who was finally able to find a way around the system in order to get us on the flight again. It looked like we were in the clear. Later that day though, we were making final table arrangements at the Manor for our wedding, when she received a call from another AA worker. “The guy you spoke to before incorrectly booked you on this flight. I had to cancel your reservation, and you will need to find another flight.”
One of the reasons I married Zhou is because she’s good at planning. This mishap was through no fault of her own. Another reason is that she is persistent. This new explanation did not fly with her. Here’s another lesson for the kids though: when you aren’t satisfied with an answer, don’t go berserk. Instead, as Zhou did in this case, politely explain your point of view, but make sure that you clearly get your point across. Zhou was able to fill this new lady in on our situation, and four hours later the lady called back with two tickets for us on the flight. (Of course, the irony will be when we get way behind schedule anyway and need to bump the flight back two weeks…)
Over the past two days, we have taken inventory of everything we are packing for our trip, and we have posted it to our gear review page. Unfortunately we haven’t tested much of the gear yet, so the actual reviews will be coming as we move along.
As a side note – both of our packs are very underfilled, so there’s room to add things as we go along. I’m going to score one point for me on this, as I’ve been forcing us to cut back on things for the past nine months. New score:
Entries to our contest have been rolling in over the last few days – you don’t want to miss out! Zhou and I have decided that we will be buying a fun souveneir from one of our later stops on the trip, and mailing it to the winner of the contest. With a little luck and perhaps a little bribery (yes, we control how many games of Scrabble we play), you could be the winner! To enter this contest, simply click on “Stats” page at the top of our site, then read the rules and scroll down to the bottom of all the comments to leave your response. You have until our first post from Africa to enter. Good luck!
I can’t believe it’s here. After nearly a full year of planning, we are actually on a plane over the Atlantic, embarking on our journey. I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced such a mixed bag of emotions, from excited to nervous to happy to sad… We’ve been keeping this blog for over nine months now, and this is the first time where I’m really not sure what to say. I guess when you boil it all down, I’m on the trip of a lifetime with the love of my life, experiencing things that I’ve never done before and will never do again. What could be better than that?
I can’t wait to share it with you all. We’ll see you again across the Atlantic!