Sunday, July 31, 2011

I’m getting pretty good at travelling. At this stage, I’ve had a lot of practice.

I have my mental checklists in place: passport, camera, wallet, house keys and underwear top the list. (Yes, in that order.) I know the airport routine and how far in advance of my scheduled departure time to make a last run to the toilets. I can pack a surprising amount of stuff into a small suitcase in such a way that the things I need first are the most accessible. I plan ahead so that my room is clean and perishable food items are eaten before I go. I can get through 8 hours of a 14 hour flight before I start getting bored. I’ve even become quite good at psychologising myself out of airsickness.

And yet, there is always something that doesn’t go quite as planned. In the past it’s been a disappearing passport, an ‘out of service’ sign on the only ATM in town, luggage storage centres closing half an hour before the arrival of my delayed flight, or extensive delays at the border. I’ve gone without dinner and spent a couple nights on airport floors.

This time I was really careful. Elaborate lists were involved, and I knew which train to catch to the airport this time last week. I planned out which day I’d need to do laundry in order for everything to be dry in time to pack and brought my conference poster home from uni a day early just in case.

The first hitch was avoided Friday night when, following pizza and drinks at the pub, I remembered that the folder with all my enrolment and scholarship information that probably won’t but could potentially be needed for me to re-enter the country was still on my desk. Ran back and got it before catching the bus home.

The second hitch arose yesterday. My dad had paid my US taxes, because that was easier than me doing it, and I was going to bring him back a money order from my Australian account. I cleverly waited as long as possible to do that, since misplacing important slips of paper is another thing I tend to do on a fairly regular basis, but how was I supposed to know that banks are closed on Saturdays? I went to half a dozen between Marrickville, Newtown and the city before I found one with a currency exchange booth that was still open. I have a feeling the guy behind the desk did slightly more for me than he was technically supposed to given that it wasn’t proper office hours, but everything was sorted out in the end. I even have money now in the correct currencies.

And then today I had another slight mishap. I think it was because the serious, though ultimately unsuccessful effort I put into trying to remember the PIN number for my American bank card yesterday. It jumbled up all the four-digit numbers I have stored in my head and totally pushed the one for my Australian bank card right out the door. So I went and got the thing confiscated by the ATM machine today as I was trying to remember it. There was a slight moment of panic since I was down to $5 in coins and the airport access fee is $10 each way, but then I conveniently remembered that my housemates each owed me a fifth of what I paid the lawn mowing guy. A semi-frantic Facebook message in which I explained my incompetence went out, and now I’m good to go.

Good to go to sleep, that is. I want to be well-rested for whatever disaster may strike tomorrow!

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