Happy Travels!

by Renae

February 11, 2009
Wednesday 10:15 EST
Somewhere in the air over Nashville, TN

We’re on our way! After not much sleep last night at La Quinta Inn in Charlotte (five hours), we caught a shuttle to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. I would have preferred to stay at Hyatt Place; we stayed a night at the Hyatt Place in Charlotte before our Amtrak trip to Washington, D.C. It’s a beautiful hotel – artsy and techy, very cozy, very clean. But Hyatt Place wanted in excess of $120 a night – and I couldn’t see paying that at all.

Research led me to La Quinta, which had pretty good reviews, with many people saying they’d stay again or recommend La Quinta to family and friends. The room cost $60 for the night, with free airport shuttle service and free continental breakfast with hot waffles. The hotel was clean, the room was clean, the people were friendly. So we enjoyed our stay and would stay again.

Airport security did not go as smoothly as I hoped, even though we arrived plenty early and didn’t have to wait in line. What went wrong? I’m not sure. I just feel like we had too much stuff. Take off the jacket. Take off the Baggallini document pouch. Take out the 3-1-1 bag with our toiletries for the flight to New Zealand. Take off the shoes. Oh—and please take your laptop out of your new “TSA approved easy checkpoint laptop bag.” That was a bummer, too.

So we get through ok, but then it’s a hassle having to get “dressed” again and repack stuff. Matthew isn’t wearing slip on shoes either, so that added to the hassle.

In the airport, I find myself already wishing that I had brought rolling carry-on luggage as Matthew complained that his back hurt before we even reached our gate! His backpack is not overstuffed, but it weighted in at nine pounds. So that’s probably pretty heavy for him. Mine feels heavy, too—and it’s awkward to wear because I have to take it on and off so much when sitting down and getting up. I looked for one of those folding metal carts in the airport shop by our gate, but they didn’t have one. I’ll look at LAX—if they’re affordable, I’ll probably get one to pull our backpacks—and my laptop case—around.

Speaking of the laptop case, you might remember that I purchased a new one for this trip—a Skooba laptop skin, supposedly TSA approved. But that’s not really why I bought it. I bought it so my laptop could count as a “personal item” on the Air New Zealand flight as I’m also carrying the backpack.

BUT—I don’t like the Skooba bag at all. The handles are not comfortable for carrying a laptop for long periods. My hands were hurting just from carrying it in Charlotte. So hopefully I’ll find a folding carrier to help me cart all this stuff around in LA.

The flight has been perfect so far! We’re cruising t 35,000 feet and the ride is
smooth. I feared feeling claustrophobic but they’ve got air blasting through the cabin so I really feel pretty good! The food cart is coming by now … water at $2 a bottle. I loaded up at the airport, buying two bagel sandwiches, water, soda, pretzels and a treat 🙂 It cost an arm and a leg, but I expected the food to be costly.

Oh—one other thing. I booked an aisle seat for me (and a middle seat for Matthew) because of the potential for claustrophobia. But that’s not a concern at all. So once we’re in LA and I’m hooked up to a network again I’ll try to get us new seats—with a window for Matthew–for the way home. He doesn’t seem to notice though—he’s busy playing with his Nintendo DS!

As for me, I’m going to close up the laptop … put my tray up and my seat back (if the people behind me aren’t eating) … and try to read or snooze. If that doesn’t work, I’ll listen to some tunes instead 🙂

I’ll check back again soon.

Happy travels!

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