My First International Trip

International Travel

With our impending move quickly approaching, my first trip to visit Maxwell in South Africa is ever salient.

(It should be noted that there were a few alarming things about this trip: my first international trip (36 hours travel), to meet a boy I had known in person for 2 weeks, 3 weeks together, my first time camping, 10 day road trip (camping only), and all over the holiday season/Christmas. Not sure what my parents were thinking when they approved this trip, but oh well, it worked out!)

We booked my flight in August and I was not arriving until December. I was counting down the months, then weeks, then days, then hours until I got to see Maxwell. When the day finally arrived, I could not sleep the night before because of excitement. This is all I have thought about, dreamt about, and talked about for months.

Getting to South Africa

The trip to South Africa from Grand Rapids, Michigan was long and arduous. My flight was as follows:

  • 3 hour drive from Grand Rapids to the Detroit airport (thanks mom and dad!)
  • 2 hour flight from Detroit to Washington DC
  • 6.5 hour layover in Washington DC 🙁
  • 8.5 hour flight from Washington DC to Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 2.5 hour layover in Amsterdam
    • Happy about this layover though because it took 45 minutes to walk from gate to gate
  • 12 hour flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town, South Africa

This was a lot even for a seasoned international traveler to endure. As a first timer that was in love with a boy in my final destination, I almost blacked out with excitement. In fact, I was too excited to sleep during my overnight flight to Amsterdam. I also was unaware that the screen in front of me played (free) movies. I didn’t know how to use the remote and was embarrassed to ask. Needless to say, specifically the 12 hour flight, I mostly sat there anticipating how we were going to be in person after 5 months. Literally sat there, pretending to read my Kindle because I couldn’t focus on anything. For 12 hours.

In retrospect, the funniest part of the trip was about an hour before I landed in Cape Town. Meeting this perfect boy after 5 months of pixelated Skyping means I had to look impossibly fresh after this flight. I went into the tiny airplane bathroom and put on a (natural looking?) full face of makeup, fixed my hair, brushed my teeth, and changed my clothes.

Arriving in Cape Town

When I arrived at the airport, I could not handle my emotions. Maxwell had told me that he would meet me right near the luggage. So as I made it through passport control for the first time, I headed to luggage and panicking ensued. As I am grabbing my luggage from the carousel, I am looking around for him. I’m worried that he is hiding behind a decorative tree intending on surprising me by jumping out. After 10 minutes of waiting with my luggage, he is not there.

Oh shit, here I am 36 hours later and he decided not to do this relationship.

I continue walking through the airport and get to where the hoards of people are waiting for their loved ones. Obviously Maxwell was mistaken of where he could meet me and there he was. As we were walking through the airport, we are holding hands and both internally melting down. I called my mom to tell her I arrived safely and that I was with him and told her “He is more beautiful and wonderful than I remembered!”

*My mother rolled her eyes from the other end of the line, for sure*

It felt as though no distance ever happened and it was just another date night with the love of my life. It was strange to see his South African apartment from the inside rather than just the screen. During our time apart, we waited to say that we loved each other because it was more authentic to do it in person. Needless to say, we said ‘”I love you” for the first time and the rest is history <3

***Although traveling was exhausting, I actually feel worse for Maxwell. He had to sit in South Africa, unable to make contact with me while I’m flying, and wait. I can only imagine the nerves with no distractions other than creeping on my flight…

Flight App

Almost to Cape Town!


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