Part 2 Making it Happen
In part 2 I talk about all the steps I had to do in order to well, “make it happen”.
Now that I’ve made up my mind all that’s left is well, to make it happen, right?
Max and I did some research on the how the travel situation in the UK was during these, “strange” times. It turns out Americans can stay in the UK for up to 6 months without obtaining a visa before arrival, and there were no restrictions for entry for people traveling from America. There was (probably still is), some sort of “red list” of countries that can’t enter the UK but somehow miraculously America wasn’t on that list.
Sweet, I can go right? Should be pretty straight forward too I mean, I don’t even have to apply for a visa so whats left to do?
Welp, Quite a lot actually. I’m going to list the things I had to do, first, then go in to some detail on how I did them one by one.
List of things I had to do:
- Plan the date (when I’ll go)
- Corona virus testing
- Buy and book Corona virus test package for when quarantine in UK (mandatory)
- Travel Alone Consent form
- Passenger locator form
- Travel of Declaration form (UK)
- Buy Ticket
- Get to Airport
#1 Plan the date
Obviously before I can really do anything else I needed to plan when I was actually going to go. Like mentioned before, I was working with a somewhat tight schedule in that I had to leave before the end of April or else I would’ve had to found somewhere else to stay unit I could get to the UK. Also It had to be a day that would be work well both me and Max’s schedules. Max recently started working for the first time a few months back so it would have to be a good time for him that way he didn’t have to take unnecessary time off. Also, him and his dad have the same days off work so any day he was off his dad would which means they would have the car and could drive to the airport to pick me up. I wanted the most possible time I could have just to make sure I had all my shit straightened out before I left. Like I mentioned, I was moving out of the place I rented by the end of the month. Meaning, I had to basically figure out what I was going to do with all my stuff or throw it out. Also, naturally I needed the time to prepare all the required documents/forms I would need in order to travel. Max and I talked it through and we both came to the conclusion that some time at the end of April would be the best. All that was left was too pick the exact date one in which Max was off work, that date turned to be the 22nd of April. Well the 23rd When I got there.
#2 Corona virus testing
The next step was booking a corona virus test (ridiculous times we are living in, but 仕方ない i guess). I thought this would be much more simpler and straight forward than it turned out to be but as I will explain in more detail later, due to all the rules about when the test as to be taken before departure etc., it was quite a headache to say the least. Now that I had the date, it turned out I would need to book a corona virus test within 72 hours from departure before landing in my desired county (in this case the UK). This is pretty standard now, Japan has the same system in place (except u cant go to Japan :D) anyway, the biggest pain in the ass about the testing is that certain countries require different types of tests. However, regardless of the test, at least where I was living, Florida, unless you have some sever symptoms of the virus then you have to pay out of hand to be tested (almost like they know its a load of bs and just want your money). Not only do you have to pay for the test, THEY ARE EXPENSIVE like, insanely expensive. Especially if you have to get the PCR test and god forbid have to expedite it because, ya know, you only have 3 days to take the test and get the results back and the PCR test is known to take up to a week often times to get the results back. I mean we’re talking about 2 to 3 hundred dollars just to get a piece of paper that says you don’t have the flu. Even for the “antigen” test it costs roughly a hundred dollars, that’s how much I had to spend to take it. Regardless, it turns out I just needed a “antigen” test to get to Manchester (my destination/the airport I was landing at) however, I will explain later but there were some complications even with that. Anyway, I scheduled my corona virus test the day before departure to try and eliminate the risk of getting the results to late and being denied entry. So I get there, it’s like a drive-thru but for corona virus tests, so we (my dad and I) wait in the car until someone comes out and does the test. After waiting for some time a woman comes out in a full fledged f**ing suit…and immediately I feel like I’m in some post apocalyptic dystopian society… It’s hard to describe how ridiculous she looked with pure words so I’ll post a picture to show you what it resembled.
Nonetheless, the woman comes over to the passenger side where I was sitting, shoves a swab so far up my nose its painful and I started tearing up, and that was it. She comes back 10 min later, hands me a piece of paper that says I was negative (go figure), and that was taken care of.
I actually made her go back and have the results signed by a doctor or health official just in case someone would give me shit about it at the airport (they didn’t), but that takes care of the corona virus test, well, one of them at least.
#3 Buy and book Corona virus test package for when quarantine in UK (mandatory)
Yes, you read that right. As of how ever many months ago now, all people who wish to enter the UK have to buy and book 2 corona virus test for AFTER they arrive in the country. I’m trying my best to not let any emotion slip through whilst writing this but It’s a challenge I wont lie. The amount of extra straight up BS you have to deal with to do things that are ALREADY complicated in nature (crossing borders/traveling internationally), is outrages. I digress, these 2 corona virus test you have to book in advance before departing to the UK are meant to go along with the 10 day quarantine that all foreigners entering the UK have to overdo. I won’t lie, I was very discouraged to read this this as my whole plan (well, a big part of it) with going to the UK, was so I could SAVE money and yet here I am basically forced to spend so much extra money just to get in the country.
Thankfully though Max, being the great friend he is, told me he’d pay me back the money for these tests (which were 170 pounds or nearly 240 usd). The way you prove that you have booked these tests is once you have purchased the kit online, you receive a 10 odd digit number in a email and later when you fill out the “Passenger locator form” you then paste that number in said space. I did mine through a website called “prenetics” here’s the link if you are interested in some quality exploitation and a massive scam. This is what a completed passenger locator form with the reference number for the corona virus test kit looks like
Honestly its just a huge waste of money that could’ve been spent on better things but what can you really do when they won’t even let you in the country with out it.
#4 Travel Alone Consent form
This one’s pretty straight forward, basically just a form that says “hey look, I’m under 18 but I’ve got parents consent to travel internationally alone without supervision”. Yes, if you didn’t know I was 17 at the time moving to the UK, in-fact I’m still 17 as of the time writing this bit, however, In less than a month I will be 18 as my birthday is July 7th. The funny thing about this one was that I really was just trying to be as safe and prepared as humanly possible and I figured I would definitely need this as when my girlfriend came the USA to see me her and her mother had to fill out and sign a form so that she could go unsupervised. Ironically though, not only did I not need it any step of the way, no one even bothered to ask or seemed curious in the first place. I wonder if that’s because I look older than I am or perhaps everyone has their heads so far up their asses with the corona virus that everything else seems irrelevant? I’m not really sure. Score in my book to say the least though lol. Anyway here’s what it looked like:
so yeah, ironically this wasn’t even really necessary as it seems but I’m still glad I went ahead and took the time to get it just in case because well, you never know.
#5 Passenger locator form
So I mentioned it before but, the passenger locator form is basically what countries like Ireland and the UK require for entry and they have all you basic information on it but also your covid test kit reference number, so proof that you purchased the kits and also some details like where you’re staying, do you need to quarantine (for 99% of people that’s a yes), and some other stuff too. If you are planning on going to the UK sometime soon and they still require you to do all this shit, I recommend getting it done as soon as you can because it can be quite easy to forget and the last thing you want to be doing is trying to fill it out all online in front a border control officer.
#6 Travel of Declaration form (UK)
This is pretty typical, I mean even before corona bs a lot of countries require this. Basically just a piece of paper that says what you intend on doing whilst in said country and your signature and what not. Here’s a pic if you’re curious.
#7 Buy Ticket
So finally it’s time to buy the ticket. You might wonder well, why didn’t you buy the ticket before doing all these other steps? That’s because due to how screwed up our world is right now buying the ticket before doing as much research and gathering all the required documents would have been a mistake because no one really knows what’s going to change and the last thing you would want is to have done all the planning and the next thing you know your flight is cancelled. Buying the ticket was actually the most exciting part though because it sets things in stone, like there is no going back at that point, which was somewhat motivating for me.
So I started searching for the best deals but there wasn’t many because well, no one is traveling right now. However, there were a few extremely cheap flights for like 3-4 hundred but naturally those ones were some weird airline and lots of long layover times. So I could’ve possibly went that route and got on some weird airline I’ve never heard about and prolonged getting to my final destination from anywhere from 5-20 hours more than what it should’ve taken or I could just spend a little more and go with a reputable airline and get there quicker, and thats what I did. I ended up going with United Airline because that’s the only one I have experience with considering its what I took when I went to Oklahoma (the state I was born in) when I was 13 by my self to life with my grandmother. The ticket came out to just over 600 USD for a one way trip from MCO (Orlando) to MAN (Manchester). I think the price was actually pretty decent considering how much it costs for a one way from Orlando to KIX (Osaka, Japan). I picked the one with the least amount of layovers as possible but there was still 3. Here’s what my Flights looked like
As you can see first I go from Orlando to Chicago, then from Chicago to Dublin, Ireland, and finally from, Dublin to Manchester. I’ll go into more detail about the actual process of going airborne and talk about each flight in detail in the section about the Flights.
Bought the ticket, swag. Now I need to work out how I’m going to get my stuff from point A to point B. Obviously can’t bring my whole room and desk n’ shit with me (although I wish I could), so I have to figure out what I’m going to bring. This was actually one of the biggest things I was troubled about. Obviously I want to bring the most important stuff but the question was how? After looking it up and understanding that there is a weight limit of 23kg or 50 lbs, I was starting to worry because I knew I wanted to bring my whole desktop computer and monitors, basically my entire setup with me.
In-fact, I was originally thinking about selling my computer and all my peripherals and just buying a laptop as that would make things much easier to transport, but then I realized that wasn’t practical and I would end up spending more than I would make, so I quickly gave up that idea. So yeah, I knew I wanted to bring my computer and all my shit but I didn’t know how I was going to do that or even if it was possible. I had already bought suitcases for when I was going to move to Japan so I had that covered but I didn’t want to bring all 3 different size suitcases the most I wanted to bring was 2 suitcases and a backpack but after using the scale I had bought for weighing myself to measure the suitcases with all the stuff I originally planned to bring, even 2 fairly big suitcases wouldn’t do it as they were both over 23kg or 50 lbs. After quite a lot of fiddling I managed to make it work but just barely but it came with a sacrifice and that was clothes. I could make it work and just below the weight limit of 23kg’s if I left roughly half the amount of clothes I originally intended on bringing behind. And it’s not like I was trying to bring an entire wardrobe either, I didn’t have that many clothes to begin with but I decided to just bring a few pairs of jeans. a few shirts, and a jacket. Anyway, I made it work, but there was some bad news. Economy class flights by United Airlines only support one free carry on and one free suitcase, which would mean I’d have to pay for the other, and let’s just say it was quite expensive. 100$ exactly to precise. It doesn’t make sense though because literally if you have luggage thats over 23kg you can still bring it but you would have to pay for extra because it’s past the weight limit. Not only that, but literally, it costs the same for luggage that’s past the weight limit as it does to just add another suitcase. まじでわけわかんねーよ
So unfortunately when I checked in at the airport I did have to pay that price to add the extra luggage, but when I think about it, I would’ve spent less money than if I were to go out and buy a brand new laptop to replace something that works fine but just isn’t as easily transportable. At the end of the day everything worked out okay so I’m not too bothered but in the future, especially when I go to Japan, I’d like to have less things to worry about transporting and preferably just one suitcase to carry all my stuff.
#9 Get to Airport
The final step is to well, get to the airport and go airborne ✈️
Getting the airport though, unlike all previous things I had to do was slightly complicated in that, I didn’t have much control over it. What I mean by this is, obviously I couldn’t just up and drive my self to the airport. No license, No car. My only other options were to either Uber/Taxi there and spend another hundred ish dollars (I’m guessing) because its roughly a hour drive from where I lived in Melbourne, or, get my dad to take me. If my dad WOULD take me then it would be a no-brainier but unfortunately it’s not that simple. Let’s just say my dad can be very unreliable… To be fair to him though sometimes it’s not entirely his fault. My dad somewhat knew I was going somewhere by the end of April but not any of the details of when exactly or where exactly. Obviously I had told him and he was well aware of my intentions of moving to Japan and living with yuzu (my girlfriend). But he also knew the borders were closed because I would constantly tell him when he would ask me stuff like “so when are you going to Japan”. Like, if I COULD, I would be going right now lol. Anyway, I didn’t tell him about going to the UK until the week before because to be honest, I didn’t really think it mattered. I mean, I was leaving the country either way so to him I didn’t think it would matter where. Not like he’d be upset or anything, if anything he was just very curious when i told him but he seemed happy for me either way and would tell me things like “I need to get out of this place too”, referring to the area we were living in or perhaps even the people he was associating with.
When I told him the date and all that and asked if he would be willing to take me to the Airport he said he definitely wanted to be the one to take me to the airport (ya know, being my dad and all), but at the time he also said he didn’t know how he was going to take me and that he would need to have a car and that wasn’t up to him but Nina, the woman he was living with. This was a reoccurring theme when he didn’t have his own vehicle and so to be honest I was really worried. On one hand I didn’t want to leave it up to him until the day comes and then all of a sudden we can’t go because he says Nina wouldn’t let him have the car, or they get into some sort of fight and we end up being late (both of which have happened plenty of times), but, on the other hand I didn’t want to have to pay an extra hundred or so dollars just to get a Taxi there. Besides, I DO love my father, and I would’ve preferred to have him take me so at least I could have see him before I left.
Anyway fast forward to the day before my flight, my dad had a rental truck for some work he was doing and he told me he would be able to use that truck to take me to the airport on the day of my flight (April, 22nd). This was obviously great news for me, not only that, but he told me he wanted to hang out with me and spend as much time with me before I left, and I agreed. Normally my dad and I don’t spend much time with each other at all so I was actually pretty happy especially because it was just the two of us and no drama no drugs/alcohol. Just memories.
So before I move on to the actual flights and the going airborne bit. I would like to transition into the next segment which is, “My Last Day in America” because my last day in Florida, was probably one of the best days I’ve had at that point in a very long time.
Part 3 My Last Day In America
My last day in America, the 21st of April 2021. Well, last full day. the 22nd was the day of my flight but it was early in the morning so I don’t really count it. My last full day in America I was actually planning on spending it doing nothing special at all. I knew I had to the corona virus test that day, I was actually planning on doing it the day before the 20th or even the 19th originally, but you have to get the test done within 72 hours of arriving, in my case, in Manchester. So yeah, was gonna do it on the 19th or 20th to be extra safe but I actually opted out doing it the day before after realizing that that within 72 hours fact is based off of when you arrive in that countries time zone so the very latest I could take it would be the best. So yeah, I went and took the test and other than that my only plans were to finish sorting out all my shit with my place, like ya know, cleaning, getting shit ready to move out basically.
Thankfully though, that was not the case. My dad, who I hardly really saw up until mainly the last couple of days before leaving, had a better idea. He suggested we go and get a nice hotel in Orlando and spend the last day together. This was definitely the right decision considering my last day in Florida was probably the best day I had in a very long time. Like just mentioned my dad and I ended up getting a nice hotel in Orlando, actually right next to Universal Studios in probably my favorite place in all of Florida. So we set out on the road as it’s about an hour/hour and a half long drive to Orlando from where I live, Melbourne Florida.
オーランドへ Heading to Orlando
So my dad and I hit the road and headed to Orlando, the last time I went to Orlando was over a year ago at that point and it was when Yuzu and I were going to Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure (theme parks in Orlando). Those are some of my greatest memories and happiest times, so perhaps that’s why I consider Orlando to my one of my favorite places. My dad didn’t really tell me which hotel he had chose or what it was going to be like he just said “you’ll like it. We are on the tallest floor with pool side view”, and that was enough to get me excited. Up until this point, this day, really I never allowed my self to “have fun” like, go out and do things or anything like that. I was mainly just focused on working to save up money for when I go to Japan, that and of course school, Japanese, my relationship, etc. So this day was really special for me.
ざー旅路 (The Journey)
Looking back on these pictures its really nostalgic and almost refreshing seeing my home city just because how natural it feels to me. Anyway, here are some more pictures of the ride there.
Getting to the hotel
Arriving at the hotel
“I want you around~🎵🎵”
We arrived at the hotel and honestly I’m not even joking when I say this, it was the best hotel I’ve ever seen yet alone been to. Maybe that has more to do with the lack of experience going to actually nice hotels in the past, idk, all I know is this place was amazing. Just gorgeous, unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of our room but it was amazing it was more like a mini house than a room. It’s Florida so naturally it was a very “tropical” vibe, but yeah, we got the highest room on the 14th floor with a pool side view and omg it was such a nice view. Here’s some pictures.
Endless Summer Hotel
Unfortunately I didn’t take as many pictures of the hotel, probably because I felt like I was in paradise and it didn’t cross my mind that I should’ve taken some pictures. Anyway, here are some pictures of the view from our room and also the outside of the hotel.
so yeah the hotel was really nice and honestly I was so glad that I didn’t spend possibly my last day ever in America just at home or doing mundane shit like always. After we got to the hotel and explored a bit and got settled in we were pretty hungry after the long drive so we decided to get something to eat and my dad knew this really nice burger joint that made what he claimed to be the best burgers he’s ever had (he wasn’t lying.)
Also I didn’t since I didn’t really take pictures of the inside of the hotel (which I regret dearly). I’m going to post some pictures I found online of what it looks like so you can have an idea because it truly felt like I was on vacation or something. Swag memories.
Inside of the hotel
Here’s some pics of the inside of the hotel
none of these pictures really do it justice but here’s an idea of what it looked like.
the Starbucks inside the main lobby looked so cool like, I don’t think you can really tell from this pic but it had this really beach vibe, definitely the coolest looking Starbucks I’ve ever seen. (not like I’d ever drink Starbucks but yeah lol)
Inside the room
These pictures actually look almost identical to the room we were in. Especially the one on the left with the blue bench. I think the sheets were colored and not just white but other than it was basically just like this. And an absolutely gorgeous view when you open the blinds. Honestly it feels more like a little house than a hotel lol. Very cozy.
After we got settled in the hotel and what not. We were pretty hungry so my dad said he know this really nice burger place called “Graffiti Junktion” so we ended up going there. Here’s some from the burger joint and also the swag town surrounding it (it’s a great area).
Town pics/Getting to Graffiti Junktion
Japanese looking 7 eleven
Arriving at Graffiti Junktion
We got to the burger joint, sat down and ordered some swag burgers :3
Also the location of this place is just amazing, this town in Orlando is so pretty.
Graffiti Junktion (best.burgers.ever)
After we stuffed our face with probably some of the best burgers I’ve ever had, we went back to the hotel
Heading back to the hotel
After we got back to the hotel, we went swimming in the pool it was pretty nice, although I will admit, I’ve been to better pools. It was weird, the deepest point was like 4ft, probably just because the amount of families and kids swimming.
also there was no Jacuzzi (hope Im spelling that right.. lol), so that was kinda shit but eh, it was still a blast and felt really nice to swim.
. For the rest of the night I remember taking a nice bath (first actual bath, (no bath tub in the place I was living) in what feels like forever) it was honestly really nice and relaxing and I wish I took baths (instead of showers) more often tbh, after that It was pretty late at night I remember feeling really beat after the long day so I got into the comfy hotel bed turned on the TV and watched some good ol’ family guy till I fell asleep.
lmao wtf is going on.
Part 4 Going Airborne | The Flights ✈️
The day of the flight (April 23rd)
I woke up at around 6:30 ish? which to be honest was not enough sleep at all, maybe 5-6 hours of sleep? Because I can remember going to sleep the night before past a little past midnight. Nonetheless, wasn’t really wise to stay up that late when I knew I had an extremely long day ahead of me, but I couldn’t really help it to be honest. I was very nervous and was having all sorts of thoughts roaming my mind making it near impossible to fall asleep.
View of outside the hotel in the morning
Anyway, the day of the flight was really nerve racking for me. Despite thinking I was as prepared as you could possibly be, I was just thinking about every possible bad thing that could happen and it had me extremely nervous. My dad woke up a little later than I did, probably around 7ish. I took a shower, picked some clothes to wear, brushed my teeth did all that shit. The flight was scheduled to set off around 10:15 (am) but obviously you want to be at the airport I’d say at least 2 hours or more before, ya know, for checking in, getting to your gate, etc. Just to be the most prepared. That being said, we definitely wanted to get some breakfast before getting to the airport but as it turned out, with the traffic that morning and waiting for my dad to get ready, we didn’t really have time to go somewhere to eat breakfast so we just got a little fruit bowl and some milk at the hotel’s cafeteria (weird combination, ik) anyway we probably set off around 8 ish?
Getting to the airport
Arriving at the airport
We arrived at the airport after getting lost the first time and trying to go through the “employees only” section.. lmao.
Anyway, after looking for a place to park for 15 odd minutes, we took my suitcases out the truck and headed into the Airport. I kid you not when I say this but the place was fucking PACKED. Like, I’ve been to this airport many times in the past as its one of the main international airports in Florida, and I’ve NEVER seen it like how it was that day. Thousands of people.
“Oh but in America corona virus so bad, no one traveling or going out of their houses”
uhhh.. Bull shit m8. If this isn’t a prime example of that being a load of horse shit i don’t know what is. If anything, there were more people at that airport on that day in the middle of a so called “pandemic” where you would think people would be dying on the streets, the cities would be deserted, and life would be miserable, thousands of people in that airport, most likely going on vacation or doing some type of travel. It just goes to show, 口ほどにもねぇ (it aint shit).
How it looked in the airport
this picture alone doesn’t really do it justice, I mean, there were just so many people in that airport on that day. Anyway, I will end up using this same picture again, just because it fits the next section.
Checking in | チェックイン
The first thing we had to do , (my dad came with me into the airport, I’m sure he wanted to say goodbye), was to check in. I can’t stress this enough how many people there were in that airport, we ended up doing the self check in because there were literally not a single booth, (like where the person checks you in and gives you your boarding pass and luggage things) that was open. Even the little check in machines we had to wait a solid 10-15 minutes just to use because everyone was crowded up waiting for their turn.
when we finally got our turn on the little check in machine, because it was an international flight + there were certain requirements that needed to be checked off in order to enter the country, it turned out we needed assistance anyway because I guess they have to verify all the documents and then they press the yellow button you see above that says “I Certify All Requirements Verified” once they have confirmed you got all the shit u need essentially. Basically I had to show the woman who came to assist the corona virus negative test result, confirmation number for the tests I booked AFTER landing in the UK, passport, and maybe the travel declaration? I’m not sure. Anyway, it defeats the point if you have an international flight but are trying to use the self check out machines because you have to be assisted anyway lol.
Getting the boarding pass
Once you finish twiddling around with the machine and have all of your documents reviewed the machine spits out all your domestic boarding passes, so if you have an international flight, it will only give you the boarding passes (if there is more than one domestic layover) and then these copies that look almost nearly identical to a boarding pass, but says in bold text “THIS IS NOT A BOARDING PASS” lol. I guess the idea is you have to get the international flights boarding passes on the last domestic flight? I honestly can’t wrap my head around it to be honest.
So this is what the actual boarding pass looks like, obviously this is just the first of 3 flights I had. My first flight, as you can see, was from Orlando to Chicago. As a matter of fact, why don’t I just show you first all 3 flights so you can have an idea before we proceed.
|#1 Orlando (MCO) to Chicago (ORD)||2 hours 30 minutes|
|#2 Chicago (ORD) to Dublin (DUB)||8 hours 30 minutes|
|#3 Dublin (DUB) to Manchester (MAN)||1 hour 30 minutes|
“Fake Boarding passes”
Here’s the other 2 things I got. Basically what I was mentioning earlier, papers that resemble a boarding pass but I guess just prove that you have connection flights? Not sure.
Anyway here’s the first one
Chicago to Dublin
Going Airborne✈️, the flights.