It’s been quite the travel experience in the United Kingdom, so far. Specifically we spent a couple of weeks in the Isle of Wight and we’ve experienced a lot.
To begin, we flew on RyanAir from Denmark to the UK.
For those that don’t know, RyanAir is a discount airline which means inexpensive flights and lots of restrictions because of those inexpensive flights. Strict restrictions with weight and size of carry-on bags, rules for printing boarding passes before arrival and a slew of other things.
We did our best to heed all the warnings from other digital nomads about RyanAir. For the most part, it was OK, but not without hiccups. For example, we booked travel through Kiwi Travel which was a nice organized interface. However, because of confusing descriptions of carry-on bags, we were booked non-priority which wasn’t going to work for us. It would mean checking our backpacks, which we thought were included in carry-on.
Long story short, for a small upgrade fee we were able to get priority passes. It didn’t come without it’s small stress though. I’d probably still use Kiwi again, giving them another chance. They did help us fix everything.
That said, we’re new to living the digital nomad life.
I’ve allowed for hiccups, mistakes, and learning curves this first year. Some cost more than others, and I knew we couldn’t possibly know everything we needed to know from simply reading books and blogs.
We needed to dive in and live the life.
So, another requirement of RyanAir is printing your boarding pass before arrival to the airport or you get charged a stupid amount of money. No problem.
However, at the house we were living in, I went to print the boarding passes and saw that the ink was low. Uh-oh.
Ahhh yay – they printed.
We folded them per the instructions, yes they instruct you on how to properly fold the boarding passes, too.
After getting to the airport and giving them our nicely printed and folded boarding passes, we learned that our passes didn’t print everything on it, including the ever-important bar code! That was black ink, which was low apparently on the printer, so it left that area blank. Shit.
Of course, we had no idea there was a bar code on there, as this was our first time flying RyanAir. Thankfully, the female staff had compassion for us (my being a confused, tired mother helped, shuffling her daughter and family through lines, etc). They merely pointed out the problem and warned us to do better next time.
The flight overall was pretty good. After getting said daughter and family settled into our seats, bags stowed, electronics out and ready to use when allowed, seat belts fastened, etc., they kindly asked us to all get up and move to another row.
Me being the generous and karma-driven spirit that I am, immediately said, “No problem.” Let’s get all our shit gathered up (jackets, bags, snacks, electronics, etc), all three of us, and move rows so that another group can sit there.
Ahhh, settled once again. Plane takes off and they come around offering coffee, for sale of course as they’re a discount airline. I decide to enjoy a cup. They pour it in this groovy cup with a filter in the lid so it’s like really freshly brewed coffee and a good Italian brand, too! I was stoked.
Then, I learn they don’t take my credit card because I’m American (or my credit cards are at least). 🧐
Then, I try to dig up some cash, of which I don’t have enough. They actually hmmmmed and hawwwed about it. Meanwhile I’m thinking, you can give me a free (or discounted) friggin’ cup of coffee … after all I DID move rows for you!
Karma doesn’t work that fast.
After digging for more cash, we were able to come up with just about enough. We were about 6 cents short to which they (finally) kindly 🤨 let me keep the cup of coffee they already gave me.
I wanted the coffee because I was a bit sick.
Our trip out of Denmark started with my being a bit sick with a cold. My usual tricks helped me not get too sick, but the stress of travel and the stress of the carnivore diet (more on that in a later post) reduced my immunity.
Before I get to that though….
After arriving in the UK via RyanAir, we opted for train travel to get from London to the Isle of Wight. It was a long day, stressful as we navigated multiple trains (me not feeling super), while carrying heavy backpacks and wearing coats, etc. My backpack is lighter because I freed myself of a few items, but still a bit annoying with the three things I’m carrying: neck sash, purse, and backpack.
By the way, I kept the kindle and I love it for reading.
My child was also not the coolest travel companion. I sure hope that improves. I don’t think she grasps the awesomeness of what we’re doing with world travel yet. And, being new to it all, it has good and bad stress for all of us.
The trains were crowded. That sucked. After a few stops, however, it thinned out and we could stretch out a bit. The train wasn’t as pretty and romantic as I thought it’d be. We opted for coach and not first-class to save money. I’m hopeful that trains in other parts of Europe, like Eurostar, will be cleaner, cooler, etc.
We did a couple of safety things with Kamea for the travel days.
- We took a picture of her on day of travel. In the event she was lost, I wanted a current picture of her and what she was wearing.
- We also made a plan for “what to do if you don’t make it on the train before the door closes and we do.” That seems unlikely, but when there are huge crowds of people pushing, etc, it could happen. We told her how trains keep coming… get on the next one and then get off at the very next stop where we will have gotten off and will be waiting for her.
- Also, a good tip: Always look for another mom with kids to help – they are going to be easy to find and eager to help a kid.
We made it to the Isle of Wight after a very long day, having missed our ferry and had to wait for another.
The long travel day didn’t help my immune system so I started high-dosing with vitamin C. I went to a local health food store, accidentally got a parking ticket in the process (sigh), and bought the only vitamin C they, had which was their own brand name.
I high-dosed on it for three days.
It was indeed helping, but it caused a big problem that landed me in the hospital.
High-dosing basically meant taking a tablet every 15-20 minutes while awake. That’s a lot of vitamin C. That’s the point.
However, it wasn’t the buffered kind which can cause stomach problems. Going from my past experience high-dosing with vitamin C, without problems, I didn’t expect any issues.
Day four I woke up with horrific pain south of my sternum. It was such intense pain I could barely breathe, move, or talk. We called the ambulance, because I thought I was in serious trouble.
Long story short…. it wasn’t a heart attack, as everything about me checked out very healthy. I told the doctor how the only thing it could be was the high-dose vitamin C.
Not surprisingly she never heard of this and went to research it. She came back saying how vitamin C was basically non-toxic in high doses, but could see how it might cause gastric distress at high levels?
They took an X-ray of my chest to confirm all was ok. Over the next few hours in the ER I felt better and better.
I was discharged and extremely curious as to how billing would work.
They told me they don’t take money at the hospital. They took my traveling insurance information and our US home address. They will bill the insurance company which should be interesting because as I understand it, I’m supposed to submit a claim to insurance if there are bills. I didn’t expect the hospital to do it. I figured I’d pay cash and then decide if it was enough to go through the claims hassle.
Totally curious what will happen, as I don’t know right now. I was able to leave the hospital without paying out of pocket.
I will say that the overall hospital experience in the UK was great.
I have no complaints. I was seen pretty quickly, the doctor and staff were very nice. The hospital is a bit worn down compared to newer hospitals in America. However, all in all, totally good experience.
Maybe that was my good karma coming back. :)
Interesting poster on the hospital wall…
Later that week we went around the island on the one day that had sunshine. Something bad happened to our car, which by the way, Greg was driving a manual, left-handed gear shift, driving on the other side of the road. No easy, but he rose to the challenge like a champ and did very well.
Still, on the way home, something was going wrong with the car we were borrowing from friends. Shifting was not happening the way it should, we smelled something burning. Just made it home, lifted the hood to lots of smoke coming out.
As a precaution we called the fire department.
They arrived quickly and they were so nice. Told us it was right to call them and they waited out the car cooling down to a safe temperature before leaving.
Lots of lessons in the past two weeks of digital nomadism.
So here we are! We’re in a new country, got a parking ticket, driving challenges, visited the hospital via ambulance, called the fire department to prevent a car fire… oh and Greg’s hair clippers broke mid-hair cutting so we made our first purchase from Amazon while living overseas. He lived with a mohawk for a few days.
We’re all alive and very well though! 💗 Learning experiences to be had and these experiences have toughened me up a bit.
I’ll finish with one thing though: Gratitude.
When I was in pain, it was so fucking painful. I wanted NOTHING more than to be out of pain. Once the pain was gone, I was so relieved. I was so very grateful. I knew … health, being pain-free, that’s what matters. It could rain every day for three years and I wouldn’t care so long as I was pain-free. I could lose my ipad, iPhone, all my blog posts, my luggage, etc…. I wouldn’t care if it meant living pain free and healthy.
Next up, we’re heading to France and we booked travel on days that are apparently now set for the strike in France. Sigh. I could stress about it. I could think about the shittiness of it. Will I? No way. I’m not in pain. I’m healthy. THAT’S important.