Sydney Lessons In Parts

We each have a story to tell. Mine happens to be in parts that involved nerves, frustration, and a hard lesson of remembering what I did wrong so I don’t repeat the mistake again.

Part I

Every other year, I cross off a big item in my bucket list. This is a personal goal, albeit one that I share with several other people who love to travel. This year, I found myself choosing between 2 continents: Africa and Australia. Two continents with an abundance of story, culture, and ambition. I favorably looked at South Africa as the destination for 2018 but eventually settled on Australia for a few but important reasons.

The first part of this story has to do with getting to the airport, feeling excited and looking forward to a 19 hour flight. However, what I didn’t expect was the travel authority, which I need in order to enter Australia. I began to start a discussion (not an argument) with the ticket agent that I don’t need a Visa or this travel authority before she stopped me and said “I’ve been there 3 times”. I couldn’t speak another word to emphasize what I was really thinking: that I am diligent about researching what I need for travel; that I know what’s required; that the ticket agent is wrong. In that astounding moment, I knew in my heart I didn’t research anything. I didn’t look at the State Department site for traveling to Australia. I assumed. And I was wrong.

I slowly unraveled myself from this embarrassing situation and began to plug in the necessary information on this website that would give me the authority to travel to Australia. After about an hour and many trials and perfunctory commands to “exit”, I began feeling my knees buckle and sweat coming out of every pore in my body. I looked at the clock, anxious about the time and the possibility that I might miss my flight. I began to realize that entering these important information using the iPhone may not be the best mode so I switched to using the iPad. Before I switched devices, I was prompted to enter and re-enter the same information only to be told the information transmitted was incorrect. Frustration and anxiety were like bullets into my body. After one try with the iPad, I was approved and the site collected my $20AUD. Whew!

The excitement and relief was short lived, however. I exhaled deeply only to feel defeated once again when I realized that I was too late. The doors have been shut, the plane was leaving. Without me. So, today is a new day or Groundhog Day 2, and am willing to try once again to make it to Sydney. I have lost the edge and although I didn’t sleep well last night thinking about the fiasco that I could have avoided had I paid attention to the details of traveling to the country. Later, I will tell you the possible cause of this mishap, in addition to the incorrect assumption made about going to Australia as a US Citizen. But, let’s leave that for later because I need to try again.

Part II

So, this part 2 includes traversing and scaling 2 airports before the real flight to Sydney. In one of my quiet moments, I calculated a total flight time of 19 hours but with all the layover time, it equates to 23 hours. Almost a full day of traveling across continents and time zones.

Lessons Learned:

1. You need a Visa or at least complete the travel authority days or even a week before your departure. Pay your $20AUD and get it over with.

2. Don’t assume, like I did, that Australia has no requirements. Because they do! In fact, after you book your ticket (or before), check your passport’s validity and then check if you need a Visa;

3. Don’t take for granted your citizenship. Just because you have (applies to me and related to #2) a US passport doesn’t mean complete immunity from other countries;

Let me end this post here until I see Sydney with my own two eyes.

Want to read more?

Days 1 and 2 of Sydney. Go here: Sydney Redeemed or this link:

Days 3 and 4 of Sydney. Go here: Wild & Majestic or this link:

*photo courtesy of google images

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