Once I was finally able to sort out all the travel details, like flights, hotels and tours, it was time for next stage of planning, packing.
A good lesson I learned on my 2nd trip to Africa, bring clothes that I may no longer need and just donate them. This will help lighten your load as your travel or make room for souvenirs. Due to the fact that I had 10 flights, my goal to stick with a carry-on bag. Once it was determined I would be going to Zimbabwe, I checked out the Pack for A Purpose page. Luckily the resort I was staying at was accepting donations for a local organization. The US Soccer Foundation has a Passback program, in which they will send you soccer balls to bring to various organizations around the world. I had requested the soccer balls and promptly forgot.
I managed to get my bags packed the weekend before I left. It was a tight squeeze, but I knew that I would be shedding as the days when on. Well 2 days before I left, I found the box of soccer balls on my front step.
Oops… Well I am creative packer, but no amount of creativity was going to make those balls fight in my carry-on. So plan B. Check a bag. 3 airlines, 4 flights? Normally that would be a no, but the alternative was to not take the donations. So I put my faith in the airlines gods. And boy was I surprised. I actually had quite the experience trying to check in for my first flight. I was actually quite disappointed how I was treated by the first United agent I encountered. It was really a case of ” I just can’t be bothered to help you”. I mistakenly thought by calling United to confirm that I could check my bag thru would be sufficient, silly me. Given my 4 flights on 3 airlines, was just too much for this agent. He insisted that I had to contact each “operating” carrier to get my reservation number. Never mind that United has issued the ticket and therefore my reservation number was in my reservation. He just did not have access to that information. Really I do it’s on app…..
So yes, the start of my trip was just going great. I was sent over to Terminal 2, which was just great, seeing as I was dressed for Africa and not the frozen tundra that was Chicago that day. 1 minute with Air Canada and I was good to go.
Thank you, Serafina who was working the United Check In counter in Terminal 2 that day. The bag arrived! Chicago-Toronto-Frankfurt-Johannesburg-Victoria Falls.
I would like to say my travel woes ended with that nonsense in O’hare. Of course they did not. Upon arrival in Toronto, I manage to ripped my pants getting out of my seat. And no, it was not a case of pants too tight, more like dysfunctional pant eating airline seat took a bite out of my leg. Great, 3 more flights to go with ripped pants. I had a few hours on Toronto, so I headed to the Maple Leaf Lounge, where I managed to leave my ring in the ladies room. Of course I did not realize said ring is missing until the flight just about to depart. So just imagine, my arrival in Frankfurt with ripped pants, missing ring and super tired, with a 10 layover before my next flight. I walked all the way to the wrong terminal only to be told I had to go back to basically where I came from to get a boarding pass. I do not have proof of my next flight so I tried to get something from the Lufthansa desk.The security agent will not let me talk to the Lufthansa Staff because he’s insistent the I need to go to the South African Airways check in desk outside the secured area. I stood my ground and requested to speak to the agents. They pretty much said the same thing, that maybe I could could check in online. I said how? (remember I was really tired). Ma’am the internet? Finally, they gave me a piece of paper with my ticket number and itinerary printed out. So I quietly walk away and had a mini-meltdown. Mini because thankfully I had internet and friends awake somewhere in the world, who were laughing at all the nonsense I was enduring.
Finally I was able to clear security and I headed to the lounge, because of the whole ticket situation, I was not about to leave that airport. I was of course was asked for my ticket……. Thankfully I had the silly little piece of paper that I had just fought for.
My next flight from Frankfurt to Johannesburg was not too bad. Except the flight attendant serving me was quite odd. I think he just felt that I did not need food, ironically I was actually hungry. He keep skipping options, like when it was time dessert it was cheese or tart. I was just given the cheese, no option for the tart. And for breakfast, no hot option for me, only yogurt. At this point in the trip, I just laughed. I was not about to fight for airplane food.
I arrived in Johannesburg on Valentine’s Day, which was like a free pass for the African men to flirt. After traveling for 36 hours, I dared anyone to look at me, let alone wish me a Happy Valentine’s Day.
And then off to my last flight
And finally 2 days later, I had arrived at my first destination, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.
Stay tuned for Part 3