Let’s get stranded in another country!- my misadventures to Sweden- Part 2

Hello all! 😀

In my last post, I talked about the mishaps you may encounter while traveling by air, domestically or internationally, and what to do. Now I’m going to put you through a little scenario on what to do while you are stranded. Here we go! (:

So you’re at Heathrow Airport in the winter and just found out that your flight is CANCELLED! The only flight you can book will be leaving in 2 days. So now what?

cancelled flights

FIRST, make sure you have some way of communicating back home or to some person, company, etc. in the U.K. (or wherever you are). Do you have a way to communicate through wi-fi (example: Skype, Facebook, etc.)? If not, does your cell phone have an international plan so you can call any one anywhere? If not these two, then try to get yourself a SIM card for your cell phone. Trust me, it sucks not having a way to communicate to others!

SECOND, do you have the currency of the country you are stranded in? In this case, the UK uses British Pound Sterling. Yes, certain areas do accept the Euro but it is better to have more British Pound Sterling for times like going on the bus, etc. Make sure to have your credit card on you too. You never know when you will need to use it. (*Note: double or triple check that your credit card company knows that you will be using your card internationally)

currency trading

THIRD, is your PASSPORT still on you? If you lose it, it makes things much harder! If not, be sure to report it missing at the airport.

Alright, you have a way to communicate with others, the appropriate currency/ credit cards, and your passport. So where are you going to sleep for the night? I would suggest NOT sleeping at the airport.

If you know some one that lives nearby, try to call them up and ask if you can stay there until your flight time. If not, try to find a hotel, hostel, etc. to sleep in. You can try to book your hotel online, by phone, or ask the customer service at the air port to book you a room. (*Note: If you have a travel agent like I did, try to get them to book you a room. They might have a better chance finding something good). I suggest you lodge some where that is not far away from the airport… more time to sleep, less time to travel back to the airport. 😀

Next, you need to find a way to get to where ever you will be staying- transportation. If it’s at a friend’s house, hopefully they can pick you up. In London, you can use The Tube (one of the more cheap ways to travel around London), a taxi, or a hotel shuttle if provided. At Heathrow Airport, there are areas where you can get more one-on-one info on these modes of transportation. If you are going to sleep in any one of these hotels in London, you can use the Heathrow Hoppa Hotel Transportation.

heathrow-hoppa

Great, you finally reached the place where you will stay for the night! But your stomach may be grumbling right now. If possible, try to purchase some food at the airport before you leave. The place you may be staying at may not have any eateries nearby or all of the places are closed. Remember, food (preferably healthy) and water are key to keeping yourself from feeling faint or getting sick. You will be stressed out and starving yourself will do you no good.

Although this is food from Sweden, food anywhere is key to "roughing" it while stranded. Carbs are preferable for energy.

Although this is food from Sweden, food anywhere is key to “roughing” it while stranded. Carbs are preferable for energy.

Finally, get yourself some SLEEP! SLEEP MAN, SLEEP! Sleep is another key factor (perhaps more important than food and water.. although food and water should not be ignored) that will keep you healthy, refreshed, and keep you from not missing your next flight!

garfield_sleep and eat

So now you are at the airport ready for your new flight. Hopefully all will go well this time and you will reach your final destination!

“I want to bang my head against the wall!” – my mis adventures to Sweden

Aside

Hello every one!

Once again, I’m sorry for being MIA (missing in action). I’ve been in the U.S. for about a month trying to re-adjust to the time difference, reverse cultural shock, etc. Leaving Sweden has been physically and strategically easy for me. I was able to travel around Europe by myself for a couple of weeks and enjoy the summer weather. 😀 I will have to make another post about my European travels later.

Now going to Europe and Sweden during the winter… well, that trip was a true test of my courage and perseverance! Want to know why? Just keep scrolling down and read on!

 I went through an absolutely RIDICULOUS  and FRUSTRATING trip to Sweden!! I had my trip planned out perfectly from A to B about a couple months before my departure date. Despite all of my effort, my plan crumbled apart!

In this post, I will give you tips, advice, and what you can expect to happen IF you ever get stuck in a domestic and international terminal. Hopefully you will never get your flight RE-SCHEDULED AND CANCELED in at once like me!

First of all, I’m not quite sure what British Airways’ track record is like, but they did not run well with me! I had an afternoon flight from LAX to Heathrow Airport, London (my lay over stop). It was supposed to be a 10 hour flight.

Instead…

It became an 8 HOUR WAIT to find out that my flight was to re-scheduled due to “maintenance problems”. They kept pushing back the time it would take for our plane to be fixed. After 8 hours, they finally decided to reschedule our flight.

Luckily, I was still in Southern California and my family was able to pick me up.. at around 11pm!

My advice:

  • Although I had this problem with British Airways, this can happen to any airplane company! Some times things do not go as smoothly as you want them too.
  • If your flight does get delayed because of “maintenance problems” or what ever else the flight crew tells you, keep your cell phone on hand. You never know if your flight may get rescheduled and you’ll need a ride back home. *Note: some times, you can get another flight the same day depending on the flight schedule and how much the flight costs.
  • If for some reason you have to wait for a long time like me, make sure you have snacks, a charged up phone (or laptop, iPad, etc.), a good book, and a comfortable seat. All of these things will make your wait more bearable!

Luckily, my flight was rescheduled for the next morning. My second attempt to get to Heathrow Airport was a success! (:

BUT……!

Right when I thought I would have a seamless journey from London to Sweden, the unimaginable (for a Southern Californian native) happened.

My flight from Heathrow Airport to Copenhagen Airport (my final flight destination before going to Sweden) got CANCELED due to the heavy snow!!! In fact, every flight that was supposed to leave from Heathrow was canceled! banging head against the wall

This is what I was doing inside my head.. >_< Since I was 2 whole days behind schedule, I kept thinking to myself in the airport, “I WANT TO BANG MY HEAD AGAINST THE WALL!!!!!”

If you are first-time, college student going abroad to another country, this can and WILL give you a lot of stress. Remember, most people who have jobs which require a ton of air travel tend to experience these mishaps.. just not all at once!

Now here’s a few tips and suggestions I picked up while being stranded in the snow, with a CANCELED flight, in an international airport:

  • Just remember, any thing can happen. You can plan out the most perfect flight schedule (just like me!) and still every thing back fires on you. Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up!
  • Be sure to follow the directions the cabin crew gives you and and don’t hesitate to ask for help.
  • Today, we live in a generation of technology. Before you head off for your study abroad adventure, make sure you have your phone company UNLOCK your phone. Or, you buy a phone with a SIM card for the country you will be studying in. Although it costs more, it may be better to have an international plan so you can always call home.
  • If you would prefer to communicate back home through Skype, Google Hangout, etc. you will need wi-fi. Remember, NOT all wi-fi is free. For example, Heathrow Airport only gives you about 45 minutes of free wi-fi before you need to pay for more. Here is a link to one of it’s internet partners which you can use, Boingo (for a username and fee): http://www.boingo.com/
  • If you do not have a cell phone that you can use and/or internet, you can always use the international pay phones.
  • *Note: International pay phones only accept credit cards. So make sure your credit card company knows that you will be out of the country and that you will need to use your card while you are studying abroad.
  • Try to book another flight ASAP while you are in your current airport. Unfortunately, myself and hundreds of others were unable to book a flight for the next day due to the amount of people trying to get a new flight schedule.
  • If you have a travel agent (for example, AAA), contact them and try to have them book you a new flight. They might have an easier time finding a new flight than you.
  • *Note: Be aware of the time difference. I was 8 hours ahead of California and at the time, I was calling home during the day. If you are calling home when every one is asleep, you will probably have a harder time getting help from your travel agent.
  • Depending on the country you are in, there may be a language barrier. If you have to, make sure to whip out that translator book! Most countries should have a section of customer service help who speak English but you never know. Luckily for me, English is the dominant language in the U.K. If you are in a European country, most people know English!
  • Don’t forget to EAT & DRINK! You will be exhausted and stressed out. At the very least, you should have a little food in your stomach and drink lots of water. If you don’t stay hydrated, you are more prone to fainting, dizziness, etc. Nothing is more embarrassing than hitting your head on the floor in front of hundreds of people in an airport terminal. Trust me, I saw people at the airport banging their heads against the floor; rather than the wall! XD

Wagamama

Wagamama: A restaurant at Heathrow Airport which serves tasty Asian noodle favorites (yakisoba, ramen, udon) and other Asian foods. They even serve English food for breakfast!

This is the advice I can give for first-time international travelers, especially study abroad students, who may get stranded in a domestic or international ariport.

My next post will talk about where to stay, where to eat, etc. when you have to spend the night whichever country you are stranded in.

What I experienced was a one in a billion chance. Even if you do experience something similar as me, you WILL become a well-seasoned traveler! IMG_5285 

I hope these tips help! Happy Traveling! (: