Travel Jenga and the Luggage Lag

Yesterday was a long travel day. Actually I’m not sure it still isn’t yesterday – or maybe I skipped forward to tomorrow? Either way I seem to have missed out on a night somewhere.

(a voice in my head tells me this is called ‘jet lag’)

Let me tell you the story and what I learned. (yes, I’m always learning something!)

My day started before it was set to begin.

My alarm was set for 4:20 but my brain turned on considerably before then and I did all the things – emptied the dishwasher, made a school lunch (not for me), checked documents, checked documents again, scrubbed some random things and tidied others, packed some fruit for my trip-

and then the carefully planned travel jenga began. I was setting off to Heathrow airport to go to America. This is no simple undertaking in these covid times, even for someone who plans – like me. There is a lot to get right and a lot that could derail the sequence of events. See, you need a covid test within 1 calendar day of flying to America. That’s ok if you have time to go somewhere to do that, but I have a job which means I couldn’t drop everything and drive the 45 mins to the nearest test centre to me… As a result my test was booked at the airport.

The morning panned out like this:

  • 4:20 wake up and sort stuff
  • 4:45 put on toast and sort some fruit it so I’d have breakfast later
  • 5:10 friend arrived to drive me to the airport (THANK YOU FRIEND!)
  • 6:40 arrive Heathrow Terminal 5 …find the test centre
  • 6:50 take the test
  • 7:10 get on the train to Terminal 3
  • 7:25 Get the email travel certificate saying I was ok to fly (RELIEF!!)
  • 7:30 attempt to upload all the docs to the Verifly app as instructed – to find that didn’t work.


Now what???

It was ok, apparently that app takes 24 hrs to recognise the test results. That’s not really ideal if the test has to be within a day of flying, but nevermind. I could show the certificate on the computer and that was fine.

  • 9:40 board the flight.

Well that was a relief! 9 hours later…

Now comes the tricky part –

I had a connection, and it was tight:

clear passport control, get my bag, recheck my bag, take a train to another terminal and get to the next flight.

all in 90 mins. I thought with automated passport kiosks it should have been smooth sailing. …but… well the flight was delayed by 15 mins. (at this point I was feeling nervous)

Then the automated kiosks were not working and everyone (EVERYONE FROM EVERYWHERE) was put in the same cattle herding system of back and forth lines. After 30 mins wait there it was time to get the bag. Fortunately because of the wait, the bag was there (hooray!) and I could collect it easily and hand it off to the recheck people. Done!

I thought that was it, but then there was security to re-clear after the train to the new terminal. Security took another 30 mins, and fortunately I had studied the airport maps a bit and kept reciting the gate number for the connecting flight like a mantra, so I at least did know what I was looking for.

I made it – with 12 mins to spare. That meant I could quench my every American craving in a matter of seconds by picking up both a chocolate frosted donut with sprinkles and a small personal sized Chicago-style pizza. -ooh, and I filled up my water bottle.

I felt like I was winning.

On that connecting flight every seat was filled. I sat between two very pleasant ladies and we all seemed relieved to just be there as the plane backed away from the gate.

another 4 hours later I made it!!

But my bag did not.

The bag is somewhere and it will arrive sometime, but somehow it didn’t matter.

(I can now see that it got on a later flight and I should have it within the next day)

I learned a few lessons today…

There are things we can control and things we cannot control.

All the planning in the world doesn’t guarantee things will go smoothly becasue nobody is independent – not completely. We are bound by all sorts of things – relying on other people to do their part in our jenga puzzles, making sure the circumstaces all like up and the physical setting is as we anticipated, and of course on ourselves mentally and emotionally.

-We can hope and dream, but to do is something quite different.

It’s personal perspective that makes something important.

I was keenly aware this travel thing was a big deal for me: It was a Yes I Can moment. I know travel is an everyday thing to do, and in fact I just sat there (or slept) for most of it, but it was a big deal to get the pieces in the right places and make it happen.

Just because it was something lots of people do didn’t make it less of a big deal for me.

One person’s ‘ordinary’ can be your big deal, and that’s ok.

Here’s to the jenga of life, how we navigate it, and recognising when we accomplish our own big deals – whatever they might be.

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