Traveling during the holiday season

6 Jan

Li and I recently returned from a Christmas trip to the US.  It was the first Christmas that we have spent together because normally I’m with my family and he is working in China, so it was a special trip.  We had a wonderful time and were blessed with a white Christmas – about 4 inches of puffy white snow to make it really seem like the holidays.  Our days were filled with special meals, presents, family and overall relaxation.

But we had to get there first.

Traveling during the holidays is always a challenge, too many people trying to get home, too much luggage in the overhead bins, too many school age kids in seats that I’m used to having business travelers.  Normally people are in a pretty good mood because they are going home and I try to keep that same spirit during the trip.

One year I had torn the ligaments in my knee and had requested a wheel chair escort for the trip.  I neglected to understand though, that once they drop you off at your initial gate they leave.  That year when I had to change planes in Chicago my flights were delayed and I had to hobble through the airport to get to each gate as they changed.

Another year when I was trying to get back to China my flight was canceled at 3:30am the morning of and pushed back to the next day due to heavy fog – but at least I was upgraded to business class!

There was also one Christmas where I surprised my family and planned a secret trip home for Christmas.  Ironically on the last leg of my flight I was seated next to someone else who had done the exact same thing.

This year after we boarded the plane the captain informed us that there was a discrepancy between the stated amount of fuel in the tank and what his gauges read.  We couldn’t leave until it was cleared up which they had to do manually with a cherry picker.  Several hours later (note that we were sitting on the plane already), we finally left.

We made friends with the people behind us who were going with their young son to Disney World for Christmas and discovered that we would be traveling back on the same date two weeks later.  I did see them again on the flight home, so they made it, but seeing them was the high point of the flight back.  I was unable to sleep, a rare occurrence for me, and the woman next to me had a killer cold and coughed and hacked the entire flight.  It was not pleasant.  I haven’t come down with a cold yet, but am still a bit nervous that the germs will get me at some point.

The holiday season will actually continue through the middle of February here in China until after Chinese New Year, so I’m not done with holiday travel yet.  Let’s see if I encounter anything else.

Do you have a favorite holiday travel story?

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4 Responses to “Traveling during the holiday season”

  1. ladyofthecakes January 6, 2013 at 8:09 am #

    Seven days. Incubation period for a cold. I think.
    I scrupulously avoid travelling over the holidays. For all the reasons you pointed out, plus, my family at the other end. A pretty good deterrent on both accounts 😉

    • gkm2011 January 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

      I’ll hold my breath for another two days then I should be clear. Family isn’t a deterrent in my case, it’s probably the only thing that will be strong enough to pull me past all the other aspects. It was a wonderful trip home though and luckily I tend to remember things more positively as time goes by!

  2. expatlingo January 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    Curious how you sprung the surprise trip you mentioned on your family. Did you just show up at home and ring the bell? Or come in quietly and make coffee like that old Folger’s commercial?

    Glad you had a good trip (well, except for the flight back!).

    • gkm2011 January 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm #

      That is a story in itself, but I had my uncle as a partner in crime who picked me up at the airport. Then I did ring the bell. It almost failed when my folks were out, but luckily my brother had just arrived home for Christmas holidays! Something you can only do once.

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