3 Years!

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3 beautiful, sometimes difficult, but always memorable years of flying around this world. Can you believe it? I feel like these three years…flew by.

He he he.

So I thought due to this significant moment I would write a post on everything I’ve been through during this time period. Well, not everything as that would take forever, of course, but I will try and include as many key points as I can come up with to adequately describe these three years of living in the sky.

Also as you will notice every topic will be followed by three examples. Three for three. 🙂

Oh, and they aren’t going to be the typical answers you find on travel blogs normally, but they all relate to my experience these three years of flying!

First Expectations:

This was the first job I ever applied to. My aunt is the most traveled person I know and she always relived her AeroMexico years, especially when I told her I was thinking of becoming a flight attendant. Therefor, by the time I went to my interview and had an overview of the job, I already had my own set of expectations for what was to come (if I got the job).

  • I expected to travel all over the world. Check.
    • Yes! This really did happen for me! From U.S. destinations to Australia and Malaysia to my own out of work traveling to Peru. I have checked off so many destinations on this wonderful planet thanks to these years of flying.
  • I expected to use my language skills constantly during my flights.
    • Nope. I wish I could say I practice my French and Spanish skills on every flight, but the reality is, I never have to use them anymore! (Except when some guests just know I’m Mexican and automatically speak to me in Spanish)
  • I expected this job to be completely glamorous 24/7.
    • Yeah, not exactly. Don’t get me wrong, I have had layovers of the most grand sense. Resorts, fine dining, even laying down fancy linen on some flights. Most of the time, however, you don’t see the parts where I’m stomping on trash inside of the trashcan just to make room for, would you believe it, more trash. Just part of the job!

Most Memorable Layovers:

  • Budapest. I’m just realizing that I never wrote a blog post on my Budapest layover! Ridiculous! I think it’s because it was quite short and I ran off as soon as I got to the hotel to explore the city as it was getting dark! This is one of my favorite places (or thee) that I’ve traveled to. Extraordinary architecture, a beautiful river that gently flows through the city, an active nightlife, so many more etc’s! I’ll have to go back and write a post about it one day (and visit someday soon?!)
  •  Malaysia! We don’t often fly to this destination so getting the chance to have a layover here was beyond my wildest dreams come true!
  • Oahu, Hawaii- Lanikai Pillbox Hike Of course that this was another Hawaii layover was exciting, but the three people I was with on this layover made it so much more memorable! Also not written about was a trip to Pearl Harbor!

 

Things I Wish I Knew Before

  • How to drive a manual car. Renting a car in Europe would be so much easier and cheaper if I knew how to drive a stick car!
  • It’s a hard job. It’s an emotional job. It’s a lot of leaving, face time calls, missing events or overall just missing friends and family.
  • Where you live when you’re not flying is actually important. I used to live near the airport and I never truly felt happy about it. Now I live closer to the city and it’s made a world of difference. Coming home is fun now and I look forward to it so so so much more.

Things I’ve Learned

I’m talking about a little bit more specific than just “I learned about this culture and that culture”.

  • I made the mistake when I first started flying for work on visiting popular tourist excursions that promoted animal mistreatment. On a layover to Thailand I made the mistake of visiting a zoo that promoted petting tiger cubs and taking photos next to a very large tiger. Now that I reminisce on this experience I am ashamed to have been apart of it. Those cubs were obviously taken away from their mothers and the tiger in the cage was drugged up and chained. I am heartbroken about this all. Back when I visited I was just excited to be somewhere new. I wanted to do everything on the “must-do”s that the internet tells you to do in these places. Now I know I was just acting as a warped tourist and not as a responsible traveler. Don’t be like me.
  • I have been using a Capital One debit and credit card for these three years. The credit card is pretty good for international travel. You don’t get any charges but the problem is that it’s still a credit card (and I’m not any good at having those apparently). Now, to use my debit card abroad involves conversion fees, international fees, and ATM fees. That’s almost $10 extra per swipe and withdraw. I recently signed up for the Charles Schwab Checking Account and let me tell you, I should have listened to the other travelers that told me about it a long time ago. Unlimited ATM fee rebates, no foreign-exchange transaction fees, and fraud protection! I’ll be continue to use this through our trip to Iceland soon!
  • I claim to be an environmental advocate except for that I am in one of the biggest polluting jobs: aircraft emissions, ridiculous food waste, and immense plastic waste. Many airlines recycle and I truly, more than anything, wish my airline recycled.  People throw plastic cups out by the dozen if they’re the “cheap ones”, the plastic trays the food comes in is particularly hard to burn, carts of food get thrown away if not eaten, etc.

My Favorite Parts

There are certain moments when flying around the world that truly stay with you for the rest of your life. These aren’t only the big excursion-seeing moments but the less obvious, almost everyday moments that make your heart shine when you experience or think about them.

  • Witnessing the landscape as I am landing in Germany. Hills upon hills upon different patches of vivid greens fields. This is my favorite time to look out the window as the pilot says “Flight attendants, prepare for arrival”.
  • Eating breakfast around the world. Miso soup, liverwurst, spicy chicken wings?! I love experiencing the different breakfast options while people watching early in the mornings. My favorite breakfast is anything with salmon or specifically the salmon Benedict from New Zealand or the French Toast from Kuwait.
  • Having really sweet exit row guests. I had a flight recently where my guests were just…not happy as soon as they boarded the plane. Frustrated, I sat down in my jump seat and it’s as if my exit row guys just knew it was about to be a rough day for me. They were just so sweet and talkative and truly just wanted to be kind. It definitely makes a difference!

Things I’m Glad I Did

  • Switching to T-mobile!!! Definitely worth three exclamation points! I can use my phone pretty much everywhere- text and internet! I mean, it’s at a 2G speed but still, having phone access has saved my butt so many times while traveling! 10/10 would recommend.
  • Switching to one-a-day contacts. When I first started flying I quickly developed an eye problem that the doctor claimed resembled. “my eye getting stabbed by a pencil a hundred times”.  Intense, I know. So after a few weeks of being banned from contacts I changed to one-a-days which I prefer. It is a bit more expensive, but with as much junk as I touch throughout my days it was the safest option.
  • Purchasing slippers when they were on sale. Hotel room floors aren’t the cleanest things in the world so I depend on mine. Plus they’re cute and comfy.

Embarrassing Moments:

  • This time a whole bin of ice fell out of my cart during service and this time I dropped a whole bunch of set ups because I thought I could carry them all in one go
  • This one time I wrote my number for a guest and taped it to his tray…and never got a text. Awkward.
  • This time I thought I looked really good while walking and then straight up lost my shoe in front of really good looking guests. Oops.

There are so many more but these are the ones right on top of my head.

Things I Always Travel With

  • Extra basic necessities: Toothpaste, toothbrush, hairbrush, rubber bands, makeup wipes just in case. I’ve stayed at hotels that don’t offer this while simultaneously forgetting something and having to purchase them so now I just carry them in my suitcase at all times. I also carry a bag of medicine (the blue one) that has pain killers, Excedrin, and cough drops at all times.
  • Multivitamin tablets. I know some of the flight attendants drink one on every flight, but I’m not as committed. You never know when you’re going to begin feeling a bit under the weather.
  • Lightweight reusable baggies or canvas bags. They fold up really tiny and are easy to fit in my carry on. I’ll use them on layovers when I go to the grocery store or the beach.

Oh and a swimsuit in my carry on! Always, never leave without it!

(Oh and obviously my camera, my go pro, and my laptop, but those are pretty obvious)

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Things I Just Love

  • At the recommendation of Sarah, I can’t live without this portable charger now. It lasts for so long and I can always depend on it when I’m traveling. Plus, you can charge two things on it at the same time.
  • I use Aveeno’s Nourishing Moisturizer with SPF 30 every single day, including when I’m flying. It’s important to be protected at that altitude!
  • Long wires to charge my devices. I used to have the shortest charging cable for my laptop so I couldn’t sit comfortably away from it. I can’t stand when hotels don’t have wall sockets next to the bed, but believe it or not, it happens all the time.

Oh, and travel books! I read every year’s edition of The Best American Travel Writing and right now I’m prepping for Iceland.

Recent Travel Purchases

  • A travel tripod! I haven’t actually used this yet, but recently on a layover in Germany I was walking around solo and really wish I had a tripod to set up to take a photo of myself!
  • An underwater GoPro dome!  We used ours on our trip to Belize! It’s easier to use it in calm water, like pools, but we also used ours during our snorkel excursion.
  • And a drone! I have been wanting a drone for so, so long and on Amazon Prime Day I finally pulled the trigger! I can’t wait to use it in Iceland!

Things I Want To Do Still

  • Have a layover in either Romania, Norway, Seville, or Poland. Just one of those and I’d be a happy flyer.
  • Visit Cinderella’s Castle in Germany
  • Visit Seoul on a layover in Korea. I’ve been many times but never have enough time to head over there!

As A Flight Attendant Thoughts

  • “Yes, I see you looking at me. No, I didn’t skip you. Hold on, I’m giving the person next to you their drink first. I saiiiiid hold on. “
  • “I went through here 10 times with trash bags, how do you have so much still?!”
  • “No, no, no, no, no, no, no, put on some SHOES.”

A few more:

  • “Hi, welcome aboard!” *Gets ignored* “Well alright then.” Repeat X10000.
  • “Care for a beverage?” *Gets asked for coffee* (No coffee on cart). “Sigh. That’ll be a minute.” *Considers holding up the line for one person’s coffee.
  • *Delays occur* “It’s not MY faulttttt. Don’t be mad at meeeee.”

Websites + Hotels + Car Tips

  • I use about three main websites when it comes to searching for cheap flight deals! EscapeHouston or your own city’s flight deals, Scott’s Cheap Flights, and Google Flights.
  • Referral codes! Share them with your friends and you’ll get credit! I also always google promo codes for Everything just in case. For example, when Kevin and I were booking our car for Iceland I did one last Google search and found a code for 7% our total. We used the saving to get wifi in the car for all 10 days for free. And the person who’s code we used gets a share of the profit. It’s a win–win. For example: use my promo code and get $40 off your first booking with AirBNB!
  • CYBER MONDAY! Keep an eye out this year. That’s how I got New Zealand on the cheap so you know I’ll be watching in November 😉

Airplane Tips:

  • Cold? Make yourself a hot water baby. Ask for an empty bottle of water to be filled with hot water from the coffee machine. Cradle it and you’ll feel a lot better.
  • Obviously you already know to drink lots of water. It’s the number one tip on every single blog post. I would recommend drinking two-three glasses of water for every soda or coffee you have on an aircraft. I also have a strict moisturizing routine every day before a flight: face wash, toner, two types of moisturizers, and a water-based primer. Facial sprays don’t work as well in the sky so try and use actual face cream and really press it into your skin!
  • DON’T DRINK THE SINK WATER AND ALWAYS WEAR SHOES WHEN WALKING AROUND THE AIRCRAFT. Trust me, that’s not water on the floor of that lavatory…

“How do you handle the different language barriers in all the different places you visit?”

This is an interesting topic. I’ve always had weird emotions towards this issue. As an English speaker, I think we are really quite fortunate when traveling around. I have noticed that even if I am the foreigner, the local will do everything they can to help me understand them in my own language. This is widely different than it is in the U.S. (in my opinion) where people say “You’re in America, speak Englishhhhh.” Traveling makes you realize this is a very wrong, very frustrating statement. Very. Very. Wrong.

So back to the question, when I travel around I’ve noticed many people try and answer me in English, even if they aren’t very strong at it. Other than that, many flight attendants use Google Translate, but I don’t have any space on my phone for more apps. So for the most part, I just use as many hand gestures or things of that nature as possible. For the most part when traveling around Italy I can depend on my French or Spanish to help a little. But Germany or Japan…I’m always lost. This is why it’s important to study up on important words before/when you’re traveling. Never know when you’re going to need to use them.

Three Takeaways

  • These three years have been magical. My office view is fluffy clouds kissed by the sun, a nights sky shining bright, a remarkable landscape I get to land on.
  • Having a strong relationship when you are gone all the time can be difficult, but it is entirely possible. You just have to keep trying and keep communicating every day as much as possible.
  • Time flies by. It really does. You jump forward days, you lose days, you jump backwards and suddenly its Tuesday again. Suddenly it’s the summer and it’s peak flying time. Your life goes by a lot quicker when you live in the sky. It’s important to slow down every chance you get.

Overview:

Well, ta-da! I have been thinking about this post for a little while now and I’m so glad it’s here! Three years. Jeez Louis. If there’s something I didn’t mention but you would like to know, just comment below!

Until next time, friends!

-Mary A

P.S. Carry socks and extra underwear with you at all times. If they offer you a hot towel, take the hot towel. Wipe off your hands or your tray table. You’ll thank me later.

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