12. Flying Solo

Aug 08, 2015

12. Flying Solo


Travel:  In a world filled with huge cultural differences it’s possible to make some fairly serious mistakes. Did you run a special risk in your past travels?

Separated: Have you ever been separated by a large distance, from your loved ones? How did it feel, at first…when so much about you was new?


  1. Pingback: Flying Solo | Graham Kerr

  2. Bluefish62 Says: February 3, 2016 8:25 am

    I will answer these in one short post. Yeah, right. You know I don’t write short posts. 🙂

    I recently traveled overseas to the United Kingdom. This was my first trip basically ANYWHERE! Raising my sons as a single mother didn’t allow a great deal of time or MONEY for travel. To anyplace. Much less overseas. I spent my last penny to go on this trip and while it might not have been the wisest decision, I’m glad I went. Had I known what I was in for I probably would have changed my mind. It was flat out petrifying. On several levels and during several moments. I got tired of people looking at me incredulously and exclaiming “wow, you are so brave to be doing this?” In my mind I thought, no lady, I’m just stupid and crazy. I felt 100% crazy at times. Like an out of body experience, so to speak. But I still loved the experience overall. And I love hot tea now. It does seem to solve so many problems!

    My main worry before traveling to the UK was saying something inappropriate. I had to coach myself not to use the expressions “excuse me” or “pardon me” because these sayings don’t mean the same thing in the UK. It is quite funny now to think that was my only worry! I did pretty good and only shocked one guy at the train station by saying “pardon me!” It took me 10 days to realize there was nothing wrong with me. Everyone was always greeting me with “you okay?” I thought, I must look really bad, everyone’s asking me if I’m OK or if I’m alright? It’s just how they say HI. I got a kick out of that.

    I landed in London on a bright Thursday morning in November. You know, THAT Thursday. The Thursday before the bombs dropped in Paris. I had a horrendous time getting out of Heathrow and making the 57 mile journey to my AirBNB that day. It was two trains, two cabs and around 80 pounds or 120 US dollars. With leg cramps and aching feet. The second cab driver ripped me off for 18 pounds. That was my FIRST lesson on cab drivers in the UK. I hadn’t slept in around 30 hours and packed a ridiculous amount of luggage. About 80 lbs worth, more or less. Upon arrival to my first AirBNB, I had to tote my luggage up three flights of stairs. I looked at the stairs and began to weep. No one was there to help me.

    Once I completed the four trips required to haul my luggage up, I collapsed. It was 3:45 PM and the sun was already going down? I thought, that’s weird. Is there an eclipse going on? I rested on the soft bed, my senses permeated by the scent of lilacs. Or maybe violets. I looked around and found a lovely sachet tied to the headboard. This scent, meant to calm, fought my sense of fear. If I pondered much on the geographical distance I was from my sons, (approximately 5000 miles,) a sick panic would begin. Then I would have to stifle tears. I prayed and told myself “they will be okay without you right now.” They are grown men and will be OK.

    The next day, as I sat eating curry and watching tele with my friend, the horrible news started. My first clue about the transpiring tragedy came via a text message. A family member sent “hey, you aren’t in Paris are you? You should stay away.” I thought, well this is interesting? Why should I stay away. As a foodie I will of course be visiting Paris. Then the news came on and I understood. I was scared “spitless.” Really scared and missing my family and country already. Needless to say, I never made it to Paris. In fact, I never made it out of the UK because of the incident and my fear to travel any further. On this night, I was unable to fight the tears. I wanted to go home!

    My second stop was in London. Great. This is where the terrorists said they were going to bomb next. I stayed three nights at my second AirBNB located in Islington. A extremely multicultural borough north of downtown. It was scary coming up from the tube (with all that luggage it took 5 “angels” to help me navigate that day’s trip!) as the culture was a conglomeration of people from the Middle East, Africa and who knows where else. Once acclimated, I did fine and walked around and enjoyed the shops and food. I never traveled on another tube though, and never will. I was in the UK for 23 days, which was 10 days too long. At least for this trip. The remainder of my time was spent up in the Northern UK where I felt somewhat safe. I was glad to finally get home and look forward to my next visit. I won’t be bringing that much luggage next time. This is for sure!

  3. Lynn Severance Says: February 28, 2016 9:36 pm

    Travel: I traveled in the USA a lot when growing up but was ensconced with family surrounding me. Later travels came during my college days and involved one summer working in an outreach program in a mountainous region of Mexico, an amazing experience in a different culture but a most positive one (and with a group of 10 us who knew English and quickly learned to speak Spanish). I have traveled with a group and traveled alone – been alone when traveling both in the USA and Europe over my years after that time in Mexico and was, gratefully, always safe.

    Separated: I have been in new settings as an adult that were a distance from those I knew (and family of origin) but the opportunities that took me to new locales were exciting ones. I was not in an emotional situation such as Graham described of his being married and having to leave Treena and Tessa. I am sure were I ever to have been separated in that regard geographically, it would be very lonely at first (and a part of me feel lonely for them throughout the separation). However meeting new people or having new experiences (if good ones) would give reason and a sort of settling that I was where I was supposed to be at that time. The thought of reunion soon with loved ones left behind would be a motivation to keep working and waiting with expectation.

  4. Audrey Skrzyniarz Says: May 10, 2016 12:19 pm

    Mr Kerr, I saw you today on a tv show in Seattle . I was so impressed by what you said that I found your blog. I too, as many watched your TV show years ago. Your energy was impressive as is the U-turn you are now embracing. At 21, I lived south of Tokyo in a village with my airforce husband and a new baby plus her year old sister. It was a strange experience and lonely at times. What I expected I had no experience to cope at first. Yet, I was intrigued watching the lives of the Japanese household people I could see. I did miss my family in Washington state especially as the years passed until we returned. I had changed as had my memories of living in the US.

    Many years later, in my 60s, I met a n Australian man on the internet–(my husband had died days before our 30 years anniversary). I decided to fly to Australia as I had met on line a few there who shared my interests in birds and to learn about the culture they had. I had heard stories from an uncle of his time on R&R during WW2. That gave me those years later the chance to travel again–this time alone. I had a travel agent tell me, I wouldn’t as a woman go overseas alone. It was scary landing in Sydney, taking my first cab alone. Later in Melbourne I was met by a new friend who showed me what his area looked like with its birds. This was the first of 6 trips to Australia. My initial fears were compounded by events that were upsetting, but I swam in the stream you spoke of today. As an adjunct, last summer I faced a fear–colon cancer. I am now 81, yet I am healthy so far. This event changed my life–eating habits–better sleep routine–plus knowing I was not afraid, though my grown family was affected differently. This gave me all the more reason to love my flower garden in Tacoma between 22 surgeries and time to recoup. Best regards in your future swim up and down stream.

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