Aero: Ayla Sandifur – France 2015 – Travel
Aero: Ayla Sandifur – France 2015 – Travel
Even though this was my first traveling experience outside the United States, this was definitely my most favorite experience. Traveling internationally was so much more than I expected it to be. If you have traveled on an airplane before, or traveled outside the United States before you have a rough idea of what it is like. Before this trip, I had done neither and was quite afraid of being on an airplane after the 9/11 attacks and movies I have seen. I also had people tell me some stories that aren’t so positive a couple years ago and I just happen to remember them. I don’t know if I made this such a big deal because this was my first time traveling to another country and I have never been on a plane before, or if it’s because I knew the destination we were going to and what is there. The night before we departed I couldn’t even sleep. I had set an alarm to wake up at five to double check my packing, but I was up at three in the morning and woke up everyone else in my house. I was already antsy and we weren’t even leaving for the airport until six thirty.
Aside from France, the little traveling experience I have is Ohio, West Virginia and Philadelphia. Traveling to all there of these states, my mom helped me out in some shape or form with packing. But for this trip and for the first time, she didn’t help me pack or check my packing like she use to do. I had to look up tips on packing and watched a couple YouTube videos to show me some ways to neatly pack my suitcase that would be going through TSA and be thrown around like everyone else’s. At first I was going to only bring my suitcase. When I went shopping for a suitcase, it was because I didn’t have one of my own that could handle traveling internationally or TSA. So when I was deciding what to look for, one thing that I decided was important is weight. The maximum limit for suitcases without an expensive fee is 50lbs per suitcase per person. Since I can’t lift more or even close to 50, and I know I pack I went with a suitcase that weighs eight pound empty itself. When I was starting to pack, I sorted all my clothes based on how much I wear it. From there I decided what to bring by how easy it was to layer with each shirt or hoodie. I rolled them up as tightly as I could, and placed them in rows in the suitcase. Then I folded my jeans at the knee and placed them on top of my shirts. I rolled every single piece of clothing and layered them on top to create padding. I put all of my essentials in the zip pockets on the lid of the suitcase and the side pockets. I didn’t pack any more than clothing and needed toiletries. My suitcase weighed less than 20 pounds at the airport in Rochester. For a carry on, I placed my snacks for the plane in the bag, my journal, pens, phone charger, overnight toiletries bag and medications along with my passport and a blanket for the plane. This bag was not only my carry on, but I used it as my day pack to carry anything I needed. I always had my rain gear packed but I never needed it.
My first plane ride was a tiny jet departing Rochester going to Philadelphia and lasted a little over an hour long. Our layover from Philadelphia to France lasted 5 hours initially, but after actually getting to the airport in Philly close to two in the afternoon we didn’t have as long to wait. We always boarded our plane ten minutes prior to departing. Boarding the plane was also done in an order by zone (section) of the plane and class. It didn’t take long for me to catch on at night. The only part I don’t like about airports is definitely security. I was always intimidated by the officers and when they looked at me, I was afraid I was acting suspicious to them. Your suitcase is what the airport refers to as checked luggage, and not only does your luggage get searched, so do you. You have to have your shoes off, everything that’s a liquid (perfume, toothpaste, lotion, creams) out of your bag and put into a grey open container that goes through a security scanner. You also have to empty your pockets out completely. No keys, anything metal, no coats, scarfs or magnetic material (debit/credit card) in your pockets or on your body. You step into this scanner where the doors revolve shut, you hold your hands up above your head like the display shows and keep your feet where the yellow foot prints are. The scanner runs across as a red line and then the doors open. If the alarm doesn’t go off, you can put your shoes back on and grab your belongings. If the alarm does go off, then the officer will ask you to step aside and pat you down. A female and a male officer are always standing there at all security check points for liability reasons.
Coming back home, security was far slower to get through. We had to go through security in Philadelphia, which we did not have to do leaving of course. We had to fill out this form and then turn it in at immigrations and customs. They asked us questions about bringing back food, if we had been anywhere in physically contact with livestock and how much money we were bringing back. We all had to go up to these machines and individually put our passport on this screen to be scanned and then our picture was taken by the kiosk and a ticket was printed out with the picture. Everyone’s picture was like an international mugshot and no one liked their picture. Traveling internationally is not easy. Especially for the first time. It wears and tears on your body and your energy drains quicker than it has ever before. You become tired more quickly from all the exercise and the hour difference in time zone changes. France is 5 hours ahead of America after we hit daylight savings. For me personally, I was perfectly fine going to bed and waking up according to their time. What I’m still struggling with is adjusting back to New York’s time and forcing my body to adjust. I would never change any part of my experience traveling because it wouldn’t have been such a great experience. This was definitely a roller coaster ride but I wouldn’t want it any other way. This was a memorable first international travel experience.