Some small thoughts on “routine” travel

I originally started writing this post on saturday where (at the time) I was about to start the post with the word “Yesterday”. What I actually meant was Thursday. To add further confusion I’m posting this days later to keep with my promise to myself, and my wife, of reducing my blog postings. It’s the foggy brain syndrome with travelling. So after starting on a tangent, albeit a relevant one, on thursday afternoon, I caught a flight from LAX to Heathrow in the UK. I’m not staying too long and on this trip, for various reasons, I’m travelling on my own. I’m going to miss my wife and son loads, but it is not for a long time. We are planning to visit as a family in a few more months. Incidentally, for those who asked about my son, he is much better, almost back to normal just a few remaining cough symptoms from time to time, and the odd blocked nose, but otherwise back to normal. So normal that Thursday began at 6.15 AM when he decided it was time to get up.

I didn’t need to be at the airport until 2.30 so we used the morning to pop out and do a few things. Over the last 5 years or so I have done the LA to London route many times, and it struck me how much of it has become routine, and how many routines surround it. It starts with packing a day or two early. I would often forget one or two things when packing so I realised that if I packed a day or two early, then I have time to remember what I’ve forgotten. It seems to work. I also pack my case a certain way. Always roll trousers and shirts. They can be put into the case around the edges working a bit like structural sections. But, having lived out of a suitcase on numerous trips, they also make it easy to remove things and put things back again, without disrupting the whole case.

I’m not superstitious, but I like to wear the same t-shirt when travelling. We have had some good trips in the past, so it is like having an old friend there.

At around 2.30 I got to the airport. We always use the quick drop off to avoid long winded goodbyes. I always use online check in so I can reserve a seat and quicken the bag drop off. Security at LAX (through terminal 3) now involves the body scan. I don’t much care if it appears intrusive, the person at the scanner will see thousands a day. I cannot see how it would be more intrusive than my wife’s gynaecologist, and she has to have a conversation with that person. I went through fine, almost forgetting to remove my sunglasses from my head, but it was ok to hold them. The guy in front got pulled aside, the look on his face as they swabbed his hand was priceless.

Once through security I have a small routine around getting a drink, where to sit to avoid being bothered too often, and when to use the bathroom before getting on the plane. The flight, around 10 hours give or take, can be boring so I try to mix it up with a few films, and reading, a glass of red wine with the meal, and some of my own snacks. I tried to avoid films that I might watch later with my wife so I watched “Warrior” and “Chronicle”, the former better than the latter. The book was the third Game of Thrones book “A storm of swords”. I couldn’t sleep on the plane. I gave it a go, but I couldn’t get comfortable, so I just had shut eye without the sleep.

At the other end the plane arrived on time. I had a bit of a wait for the suitcase, the downside of arriving early at the airport. First in, last out. The best bit was when I went through customs. I had a few gifts with me, but I went through “nothing to declare”. I immediately, and for the first time ever, got stopped by security who asked where I had come from. I misheard, and then with my foggy head, paused before answering. He asked to see my boarding pass, which was in my bag so I said I would have to find it, so he pulled me aside. I found the pass and he asked me to put my case on the desk. He said the classic “you have walked through nothing to declare, do you have anything to declare?”, I grinned and said no. He asked if he had my permission to look through my case. I decided to front it, unclipped the clip around the case, smiled again and said something along the lines of “help yourself mate”. He looked in one corner, spotting some chocolates, then the other corner under some clothes, and that was it! He smiled back and said I could go. Most of the gifts were in the middle. On the way out I spotted Michael Bisping (he is a British UFC fighter), I almost stopped to ask him when he was fighting again, and to wish him well, but I continued on my way. I’m not into celebrity spotting, I was more impressed with that.

I’m staying at my parents, who I usually try to talk to on the webcam at least once a week. We usually do this around 9.30 am pacific time, 5.30 pm UK time. My wife and I decided we would stick with this time so we could catch up after I arrived, and also for me to see my son. It was nice to see them and a bit odd given they had slept the night but it was still like the same day for me. We agreed to try do this again the following day. Later I recalled I was going to try to play a small round of golf the following morning so I said I might not be home in time. My wife asked if I will be playing until 5.30? In foggy brain state I got confused with the time and thought I would be going online at 9.30. Oops. Anyway I did make it to bed later that night, at around 11pm at the end of an almost 33 hour awake day. I did make it up at 7.15 the following morning for golf. I was rubbish at it. The rest of the routine worked though.

Oh also waiting for me when I got to my parents was a copy of Sugar’s re-released and expanded edition of their debut album “Copper Blue”, pictured below. Some readers may recall it is one of my favourite albums!

20 Years old in new remastered and expanded form – yay!

Lexicon word of the day: gomer.


12 comments on “Some small thoughts on “routine” travel

  1. Virgin Atlantic. Hmmm. Do they take you where no man has gone ? Or is it for first time travelers ?

    • Elliot says:

      You’re thinking of Virgin Galactic. Sadly Virgin Atlantic only take your over the atlantic, and I’ve done that route many times before…

  2. Margarita says:

    When you think of the time it took to travel across the Continent and the Atlantic a century ago, it’s a little mindboggling that such a journey can be perceived as routine today. Amazing!

  3. Elliot says:

    Referring back to my post about “how far we travel”, it is mind boggling to me also, that this would become routine. I also think the same thing about keeping in touch. Facebook allows family and friends five and a half thousand miles away to see photos instantly, and using e.g. Skype and a webcam, allows a “free” video call just like that. No waiting three months for a letter to arrive.

  4. crubin says:

    Well, I’m glad you made it okay and didn’t suffer any blood clots from a ten-hour flight. Yikes. Hope you didn’t have a chatterbox next to you or someone who boarded the plane with a spicy, garlicky, salami-laden sandwich to nosh on.

    Had to laugh at your Lexicon word of the day. Gomer was a term once used by medical students and residents when referring to older patients–and not in a kind way. 😉

    • Elliot says:

      The flight itself was a bit uneventful, just a bit long and boring. Security was more fun.

      The Lexicon word amused me as well, but I wasn’t familiar with it so thought it was worth adding.

  5. Mark says:

    I too have a charmed t-shirt! I wear it when I want a bit of luck.

    I guess Virgin is pretty ubiquitous here in the UK, with Virgin TV, Virgin Money and Virgin Trains. Sir Richard Branson did all that off the back of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells. Bet Sir Ricky had a whole drawer full of lucky t-shirts…

    • Elliot says:

      I’m not even sure why I wear it other than tradition I suppose! I’m not superstitious in thinking that something will happen if I don’t, and I don’t think I have worn it every time on that route (although likely most of the time).

      Anyhow, no Virgin megastores anymore, so the lucky shirts didn’t work on that occasion!

      • Mark says:

        Yes, and no more Virgin Cola – which was just megalomania, right?

      • Elliot says:

        I could be wrong but I think Virgin cola is still used on the flights, or was until recently. I shall make a point of checking it out on the flight home.

  6. kevelair says:

    Reblogged this on AFFRETEMENT AERIEN AVION.

  7. Hope you’re enjoying the crappy English weather honey 😉


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