Travel is the worst part of vacation for me even with my family...solo, it's a total nightmare! Since we live 14 hours away, flying has always been the most viable option, but it's never been my preferred method. The actual flying part I have no trouble with, it's the airport and dealing with security that gets me every.single.time. It's sensory overload on an entirely different scale. You stand in lines, juggling your bags, your i.d., and your boarding pass; you're scrutinized several times by different agents all looking at the same thing (and they always seem to spend an extra long amount of time comparing me to my driver's license for some reason); you have a very miniscule amount of time to get your shoes off, put your bags in a very tiny container while pulling out your liquids, your meds, your electronics, etc; you are forced to walk away from your stuff to walk through a scanner that shows the outline of your naked body (but luckily I've avoided these up to now); you try to not look shifty while you deal with getting through the detectors, having conversations with agents, and watching your stuff to make sure someone isn't robbing you; you are forced to get your stuff, re-pack your formerly perfectly arranged bag, put on your shoes, all while trying to keep an eye on your stuff and the people around you. All of this happens in a matter of minutes! Extremely stressful for an Asper and not easily overcome. I can only imagine how little kid Asper's handle it all.
Flying solo is even worse. Not only am I dealing with all of the above, but I'm having to do it alone. There is the added fun of finding your way through airports that you only see once a year (I'm bad with directions, remember?). You are stuck in a seat next to a complete stranger who usually wants to talk the entire trip (you'd think the fact that I've wrung my hands blue might put a complete stranger off, but no!). You have to approach your town car driver yourself, make chit-chat while you wait for your bags to come through baggage (all the while watching to make sure no one else steals your stuff-yeah, for a small-town girl, I have a big city mentality). Then there is the chit-chat to the resort (I've been lucky for the past several years to get the same jerk driver who doesn't like to talk...sometimes being a jerk is a good thing). Over the years I've become quite good at faking chit-chat, but I still hate it.
Last year we drove down for the first time since we were little kids. It was a lot more comfortable for me to sit in a vehicle for 14-16 hours versus a 2 hour plane ride! We were able to buy whatever we wanted at Disney and not have to worry about shipping it home either. Guess I should explain that a bit...in the past I've mentioned the fact that you can have any store purchase (excluding food) shipped back to your resort so you don't have to carry around bags, you just pick them up in your resort gift shop the next day. You can also have them ship the items home for you, saving you the cost of sales tax, you only have to pay shipping. But we have learned from personal experience that Disney are HORRIBLE package packers! They are really quick to replace things, but it's just annoying getting your purchases and you end up having to ship them back and waiting all over again. So, to combat breakage, we started shipping a huge empty box filled with other empty boxes and all kinds of packing materials to our resort a few days before we go. When we arrive, the box is already there waiting to be filled!
This shipping process worked well in the past (with some notable hiccups), but it is time consuming both before and during your trip. When you get back to your resort late and you just want to go to sleep, you are forced to reorganize the boxes you've previously packed, adding the new stuff. Then on the last day, you have to make sure everything's secure, the boxes are sealed and labeled, and ready to go home. You have to tip the baggage handlers an absolute fortune to carry them down to the front desk where you spend FOREVER filling out paperwork. It costs quite a bit of money to ship the boxes home (because we have to ship them home air - partly because I can't wait and partly because the longer they sit in a warehouse or on a delivery truck, the more damage the carriers can do). They used to let you choose FedEx or UPS, now they only use UPS. I think our local UPS driver plays bumper cars with the boxes because they come back looking like they have been through a war zone! Ripped open, dented in numerous places, crushed...you name it! Luckily, we are really good packers and nothing has ever gotten broken. But one of these days, me and that little bastard are gonna go round and round!
A few years ago, when they still let you choose which carrier, I chose FedEx and added insurance to the package ($300 a box-which so did NOT cover the contents). It was at the Contemporary, which has a business center, but the cast member helping me was new. Needless to say, he ended up shipping them to me by UPS with a $300 due on receipt charge instead. When the little bastard driver showed up at my work demanding $1200 for the four boxes, I thought he was just being his usual jerky self! But nope, he was dead serious and refused to leave my stuff. It took me three days of numerous phone calls between Disney and UPS (and a very wonderful brother-in-law throwing around his weight with the head of the local UPS) before I got my boxes (all of which were severely damaged BTW). I was in full meltdown mode for weeks afterwards!
But back on track, last year we just put the boxes in the back of the vehicle with our suitcases, filled them up on the trip, then shoved them back in the vehicle for the trip home. No special arranging and bubble-wrapping, no sorting things so one box isn't heavier than another, and best of all, no hit to the wallet...just shove it all in the box and, as long as the lid at least partially closes, no worries! Take that UPS!
Another good thing about driving down is that you have 14-16 hours of "solo" time before you are shoved into the Disney crowds. This is crucial for the Asper. Mind prep is what I call it. You are not spending the first part of your vacation struggling through security lines, sitting in airports, riding on planes, getting off planes, getting your baggage, finding your town car driver, etc. You're not worrying about the fact that your family is furious with you because you demand that you have to arrive at the airport 3 hours before the flight so you have time to deal with security in case there is a glitch. You are also not worrying the entire trip about repeating the whole airport process all over again on the way home!
Flying and Xanax go hand in hand, that's for sure! It takes me months, yes, I said months to prepare for a flight mentally. It's also the main reason why I haven't gone to Disney World solo since 2008 (well, that and lack of funds). I've been saying that as soon as I got a reliable vehicle I would start driving down and avoid the flying all-together. Well, my lovely blog friends, that time as come!
So, this October, not only am I doing my first solo trip since 2008, but I am also driving down...alone! I'm really excited and scared at the same time! There is gas stops and bathroom breaks that concern me...I didn't handle those very well even with my sister with me. I have the feeling that my bladder is going to get really angry. Pumping gas outside is one thing, but having to go inside to go to the bathroom (which is generally very scummy) is a scary prospect. But I am determined! I have made several "preliminary" little trips, testing my, and my vehicle's, driving endurance. Other than extensive map study and intimate knowledge of my vehicle's sat nav, I am ready and mind prep is done!
Lookout Disney...here I come...but wait, I still have to get through another big stumbling block...the arrival! UGH! Stayed tuned for Part 3: Arrival!