Middle-Aged World Travelers, Chapter 1, Packing and the First Day of Travel

When you’re of a certain age and decide to take on the world through travel, there are many things you don’t know in advance.  You know you’re too old to backpack through Europe and stay at hostels.  You imagine their beds are lumpy and at this point in life, you need a full support mattress.  Also, at this age, you don’t want to share a bathroom down the hall with a lot of young college-age strangers.  Heck, you don’t want a bathroom too far down the hall at all because you get up at least twice during the night and that journey would be too long! 

So you know you’re not going to be backpacking through Europe, but you want to see as much as you can in the two weeks you have free to travel.  If you’ve never traveled for that long or out of the States at all, it’s quite the conundrum as to what to pack.  So, you read books and websites about traveling light and what to take.  Nearly all the books and websites I researched said that if you’re a woman, all you need to pack are a pair of black dress slacks, a pair of good khaki shorts, two or three tee shirts that can be washed and dried easily, and maybe one dress if you think you might go someplace dressier.  Hmmm, a problem already.  I don’t have or wear black dress slacks or khaki shorts.  I rarely wear tee shirts any longer.  I’m 53.  I dress like a woman.  I wear and prefer to wear colorful wraparound skirts and comfortable, colorful maxi dresses.  Sometimes I wear jeans and tee shirts, but mostly when I’m going to be doing some heavy housecleaning or gardening.  I’m not a snob, princesss-sort woman.  I’ve just learned to love and appreciate dresses.  They’re more comfortable, easy because there is no matching to do, and come in all kinds of colors.  Whoever convinced women that jeans were a more comfortable alternative to dresses was a good salesman!  Some jeans are comfortable, but generally they’re not the ones you wear out in public.  (Ok, I admit I have a problem with jeans that most people don’t have. As my fibromyalgia has worsened, jeans cause me great pain because of severe chafing where the heavy seams are.  It doesn’t matter if the jeans are tight or loose. The Princess can’t handle jeans any more. Are you happy now?)

I’m trying to travel light and am delighted when I figure out how to get everything I’ll need for 15 days into a carry-on size suitcase.  I pack carefully and am quite proud of myself by the time I’m packed!  I am ready!  4 dresses, 4 skirts, 5 or 6 shirts, a lightweight sweater, a white infinity scarf with a little wool in it for warmth, all my undies, and a nightgown.  Oh, and medicines and toiletry items.  Oh, and some yarn so I can continue to work on my crochet and knitting projects.  And my iPad and iPhone and journal so I can write or stay in touch with my family and friends back home.  I can also read books on either i-things and have a good map resource.  I am ready now!  Sunscreen.  Dang, I’ll have to take that too!  And a raincoat and umbrella because in Ireland it rains frequently and unexpectedly.  Ok, that ought to be it!  I’m zipping up my luggage now!  Oh, forgot my swimsuit for Spain! If I’m going to be staying by the Mediterranean Sea, by golly, I’m going into it!  I wonder if my swimsuit still fits? No matter. It is all I have. One black tank swimsuit tucked into the edge. Ok, now I’m zipping up my suitcase and if I forget something important, so be it!

My carry-on bag that’s so well packed is heavy, at least for me it is.  My husband has elected to take the boat-sized suitcase of our set and I’m looking at it with disdain.  Aren’t men supposed to be able to travel light with the bare necessities?  His suitcase weighs a ton because he has brought 6 or 7 pairs of jeans. 

We arrive at the Denver airport so early it is nearly empty, but there are always people at the Denver airport.  We show our passports at least three times, go through security, and boom!  We’re ready for our United flight to Boston and then our Aer Lingus flight to Dublin.  We will arrive in Dublin at 5:00 tomorrow morning, just in time to celebrate our twentieth anniversary with a series of recovery naps.  When you’re middle-aged and one of you has fibromyalgia, it is very important to schedule in rest and recovery days so you don’t have problems with pain or extreme fatigue while gone.  Our United flight is so cram-packed with people we can hardly breathe, much less move!  United has become the official cattle car of public, commercial air travel in my mind.  If you’re taller than six feet and weigh more than 190 pounds, you won’t be comfortable. At. All.  (Ok, you won’t be comfortable if you’re 5’3″ and weigh 131 pounds either.) By the time we reached Boston, I was almost suffering a panic attack from the sheer numbers of people crammed in that plane.  We’re told which way to go to make our connecting flight on Aer Lingus.  Of course, the Aer Lingus gate is on the other side of the airport and is being remodeled so making it for our connecting flight was challenging to say the least!  We hot-footed it as fast as our middle-aged knees would let us! I’m having a hot flash by the time we get to our gate.

In Contrast, the flight on Aer Lingus was like a first class adventure.  Bigger seats, entertainment centers at each seat, open aisles, smiling flight attendants.  This was going to be easy!  We flew through the darkness above the North Atlantic and the temperature gauge on the entertainment center in front of us showed the temperature dropping like a rock.  By the time we reached the area in which the Titanic sank, it is -75C!  I can’t imagine having to escape from a sinking ship into that cold North Atlantic sea. We finally reach Dublin, but it could be Dallas for all we care at that point. We take a cab to our hotel, speak briefly about what a nice room it is, kiss each other goodnight (at 8:00 AM) and promptly fall asleep.  I can hear the sounds of Dublin awakening as I drift off to sleep. What new adventures will tomorrow bring?  I can hardly wait to find out!  Dublin town, here we come! 


1 Comment

  1. Kayla says:

    I may only be 24, but I completely agree with you about skirts and dresses! I love reading about your traveling adventures, though. Can’t wait for you to write more!


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