The airport is so big it makes me want to stretch out my arms toward the glass ceiling. The expanse of terminals and people and scanners and seats doesn’t match the size of my two aunties’ suitcases, stuffed to the brim with the latest fashions from Asia and souvenirs for me.
“阿傑, we missed you so much,” they would tell me, hugging me as they walked toward my mother and me. My Auntie Chau and Auntie Nina had just come back from a trip to Hong Kong and I often accompanied my mom to pick them up from SFO.
As much as I hate tropes, my aunts can’t be described as anything other than spinsters. Older than my own mother, they were free from kids, free from a husband, free to do whatever they wanted. Often, this meant traveling and seeing the entire world.
I envied their life. Designer shoes, bags, clothes and international travel every few weeks. They didn’t have kids to waste their money on. I couldn’t remember the last vacation mother took and I resolved myself to let myself live a little bit more just like aunts.
Luckily, I had the opportunity to take a trip they often take. For Spring Break, I went to one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Hong Kong. There, I had a blast with my boyfriend and close friends, trying new foods and buying new things. I’m pretty sure my Cantonese improved, too.
However, there are many downsides to travel and this trip definitely helped me learn a thing or two. Without any further adieu, here are some of my opinions on traveling either with friends, with family, or by yourself.
Opinion 1: If you have dietary restrictions, e.g. vegetarian or vegan, you shouldn’t force your travel companions to visit only vegetarian or vegan restaurants. What you should do is find restaurants in advance that have food suitable for everyone. If you’re the one with the dietary restriction, the job should be up to you to find food that works for all. In Hong Kong, my friend would make me search up restaurants that had vegan options for him when I had plenty of places in mind to eat with my boyfriend, albeit without vegan options.
Opinion 2: You should definitely be on time for outings and events. This is particularly crucial when you purchase tickets in advance. When my group and I decided we wanted to visit Macau, I bought us ferry tickets to the island for 8:00 am. Due to certain people not waking up on time, we had to catch the 10:00 am, which meant less time for our day trip in Macau. Please be considerate and be ready when everyone else is so you can make the most out of your vacation!
Opinion 3: If you have two suitcases, I suggest that you check both bags with the airline. When I went to Hong Kong, my boyfriend had two suitcases and decided to only check one of them. For hours we had to lug around his second suitcase in the airport. Often, he would even forget that he had it and walk away, leaving the bag out in the open for theft. Also, if the airline loses your luggage, they’ll usually compensate you. My best friend lost his luggage in Europe and got paid $50.00 a day each day the airline had his stuff.
Opinion 4: Don’t pack an outfit for every single day or bring extra stuff stuff. You should pack light! If you fill up your suitcase with tons of clothes and unessentials, then you’ll have no room for souvenirs! Besides, for me I love clothes and bought tons of it during my vacation. You can wear the clothes you buy at your destination for the trip!
Opinion 5: Nothing is perfect and plans almost never work out. You should be optimistic and be ready to roll with the punches! When my travel group and I arrived at a certain temple at 4:00 pm not knowing that it closed at 5:00 pm, we didn’t cry about it. We made the most out of our day by looking up other sights near the temple. Don’t be afraid if things go wrong! Adapt to it and be strong.