Review: 35 hours of travel

Until today, the longest flight I’d ever been on was from Atlanta to Los Angeles (4 hours), which pales in comparison to the 35 hour trek I just survived. Flying with Virgin Australia was a good experience, but I’m not in a rush to fly like that ever again!

ATL – LAX

The day started early, and my mom, dad, and I got breakfast before heading to the airport. As we drove toward Hartsfield-Jackson, I couldn’t believe I wouldn’t see my hometown for another year. The drive went by in a flash, and pretty soon we were at the airport. We hung out for about an hour and then said our goodbyes. Getting into the TSA line alone for this “incredible adventure” made reality set in…I was actually doing this. Suddenly, I couldn’t keep the tears from my eyes and I wished that my parents could come with me. Once the tears and shock wore off, I felt pangs of excitement…”I’m actually doing this!” I thought.

After security/plane train/etc… I got to my gate. “I wonder if anyone else is on their way to Perth,” I thought. I don’t think anyone was.

This flight was operated by Delta, and I was upgraded to Comfort+. The flight was jam-packed and my seat had a TV with HBO. I watched “Hidden Figures” and got sucked into Season 3 of “Insecure”. Nothing to really write home about, but I did really enjoy the TV selections! Entertainment: 10/10

At LAX, I had a 6 hour layover and took a shuttle to the Tom Bradley International Terminal first thing upon landing. I wished that I’d stayed in domestic a while longer because there are more shops, restaurants and things to do. I caught up on some errands like converting my cash, calling my phone provider to suspend my U.S. phone number, ate, and made my way to the (empty) terminal to stretch my legs and watch the gate fill up. Before boarding, I shared my charger and chatted with a new friend who was early for her flight to Melbourne, which left even later than mine. She was on her way to a mentoring convention and we talked about personal growth and travel until it was time to board. Our conversation left me feeling so inspired!

LAX – MELBOURNE

The Boeing 777 that we’d spend the next 15 hours in over the Pacific Ocean was MASSIVE. It seats nearly 400 people and is the world’s largest twin-jet airliner. I boarded and passed the nice and cozy first class, into economyΒ class at the very back of the plane. I soon understood why someone would pay more than a thousand dollars extra for the legroom and ability to actually lay down.

I hoped that I’d be able to continue binge-watching Insecure, but alas, there was no HBO on this flight. Before boarding and during my 6-hour layover, I thought “Surely there can’t be THAT many people flying to Australia on a Tuesday night!” Boy, was I wrong. The flight was packed, and economy class didn’t offer much legroom and I couldn’t recline my seat very far back as there was a bigger guy behind me who I didn’t wanna squish. I did make another new friend who was on her way to Melbs for a festival. I was glad to have someone to chat with, I guess that’s the plus side of being cramped into tiny seats.

I got maybe 3 hours of sleep total, and watched some Australian shorts and an Australian indie film called “Book Week.” “Week” was awful and I’m not sure why VA chose it as a movie, as it centred around some horrible dude making awful choices. I don’t care to explain more about it as it’s not even worth my energy. If you’re curious, you can read about it here. Entertainment selection on VA: 3/10.

The rest of the flight was ok. I wish that I could have afforded Economy Plus or First Class, but ya get what you pay for. We were provided with pillows and blankets, and three meals plus a snack. It was fine, whateva.

When we arrived in Melbourne, I was thankful that I had my new friend/seatmate to walk with through the airport, through passport and visa verification, and to baggage claim with. What transpired after that was a traumatic experience that I wish to never repeat.

MELBOURNE – PERTH

After baggage claim, all international arrivals were herded into a looong customs line. The dark room with sickening fluorescent lighting (AKA customs) was filled with thousands of people and beyond chaotic. My Osprey Fairview wouldn’t zip to the rest of the bag, and I needed to dump all of my belongings out on the ground to get the stupid daypack to reattach to my main pack as I tried my best to keep up with the line. I moved as quickly as I could but almost had a panic attack. I was completely exhausted, dazed, and jetlagged which didn’t help my decision making or stress regulation. Oh, I also had an hour and a half to get to my next flight (Which is equivalent to 10 seconds in airport time).

Customs itself was seamless, the pistachios I’d declared on my customs form proved to not be a problem. Minimal signage then brought us upstairs to check-in for the next flight. I had to ditch my cart that held my (way too heavy) backpack and I struggled to get the pack on my back amidst the chaos. Then, I nearly lost my passport (thank God for the security guy who handed it to me with a concerned look). I checked in but missed the baggage drop, which I thought it would be on the way to security (it was not). I hadn’t been able to properly fasten the hip-belt on my pack and my back was HURTING. I then had to go back upstairs to the hellish check-in area and drop my bag off.

Once dropped off and properly checked in, I ran to my flight to Perth which was boarding right as I got there. I breathed a giant sigh of relief that I made it and boarded the plane from the tarmac (something I’d only ever seen in movies).

MELBOURNE > PERTH

The last leg of my trip! While it was only 4 hours, this part felt the longest and was honestly too much. I was shaken up by everything that had happened in the 2 hours prior, and I began to rethink my entire decision to even come to Australia. I really just wanted a shower and a bed and for the journey to finally end. As we neared Perth, all I could see were perfectly square tracts of mines and beautiful turquoise shores. Prior to then, I had no idea of Western Australia’s mining industry, which I hear is connected in some way to everything in Perth. In a sleep-deprived train of thought, I asked myself “What if Perth is a conspiracy like Fyre Festival,” the ill-fated luxury music festival that never actually happened, leaving thousands of people stranded in the Bahamas.

The plane landed, and we deboarded into the empty Perth airport. I needed an Australian sim chip for my phone and popped into a convenience store to grab one, then called my family, grabbed my backpack, and called an Uber. Stepping out into the Australian heat on a muggy day was a welcome change from the cold and rainy weather back home. As my driver drove (on the “wrong” side of the road…roads and driver-sides are reversed in Oz) we came closer to downtown (the CBD as it’s called here). I was entranced by the plants I’d never seen before, and couldn’t believe I was finally here!!

My driver dropped me off at my hostel, and after chatting with the lovely owner for a bit about things to do in Perth, I took a shower and had an amazing nap.

Almost a week has gone by since I’ve arrived and the jetlag is almost completely gone. I’m already having a blast! Stay tuned for my next post on what travel tips I’ve learned so far! Trust me, this 35 hour journey taught me a lot…

Watch my 35 hours of travel in 31 seconds below!

Until next time,

Christina πŸ‡³πŸ‡Ώ